April 21, 2018

Trump believes he can fire Mueller, White House says

11 April 2018, 11:19 | Rufus Hill

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington U.S

Trump holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington

"Monday's raid was to seek records on the deal set up between ex-Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal and a company that reportedly paid her amid the 2016 presidential campaign cycle to keep her account from publication", CNN said.

Stormy Daniels is cooperating with federal investigators, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

Before landing the coveted legal job, Berman worked for the law firm Greenberg Traurig in New York and New Jersey, where Trump confidant and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is also employed.

On Monday, FBI agents raided Cohen's NY offices, acting in part on a referral by special counsel Robert Mueller to federal prosecutors in NY.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said repeatedly that Trump denies Clifford's allegations.

Justice Department guidelines say only Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller last May, has the authority to fire him and only for specific cause. Many in the president's orbit think Rosenstein's position is now the most endangered if the president decides to take action to try to halt the probe, the people said.

Several former officials at the Federal Election Commission have said the payment appears to be a violation of campaign finance laws, and multiple Washington-based groups have filed complaints with the FEC, urging it to investigate.

The New York Times first reported prosecutors' interest in McDougal. Months later, McDougal said that in 2016 she had sold a story about her alleged affair with Trump to the National Enquirer but that the newspaper had bought it only to bury the story because they had a relationship with Trump.

Geoffrey Berman was named the interim US attorney for Manhattan in January.

In 2016, Cohen paid $130,000 to adult film star Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, as part of a nondisclosure agreement.

Trump told reporters that the Federal Bureau of Investigation raid was a disgrace and Mueller's team is the most conflicted group of people he has ever seen. The White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment about Cobb and McGahn trying to dissuade Trump.

Mr Mueller is also probing a US$150,000 (S$196,600) payment Ukrainian billionaire steel magnate Victor Pinchuk made during the United States presidential campaign to the Donald J. Trump Foundation for the American real estate developer to give a 20-minute speech via video link.

"Neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly", Cohen said.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a friend of Trump, called the Cohen raids "a little heavy-handed".

Grassley, an Iowa Republican, says he has confidence in Mueller and Trump should, too, adding: "It would be suicide for the president to want to talk about firing Mueller".

"I would be lying to you if I told that I am not", Cohen told Lemon when asked if he was anxious.

Under Justice Department regulations, Mueller must consult with Rosenstein when his investigators uncover new evidence that may fall outside his original mandate. He calls Mueller investigation a "witch hunt".

"Is this surprising? Yes", said Giuliani, also a former US attorney. "So we'll see what happens".

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said it would be "suicide" for the president to move to remove Mueller as special counsel. "Do I want to be involved in this? No". "The less the president said on this whole thing, the better off he would be, the stronger his presidency would be". And that means Trump has more than Mueller and Russian Federation to worry about.

Nunes has also spoken in the past week with members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which has been supportive of Trump, about how a potential contempt effort could unfold.

McConnell says it's the view of most people in Congress that Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation. I'm the guy who would take a bullet for the president.

The raids on attorney Michael Cohen represent a dramatic escalation of a federal inquiry led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election and possible collusion by Trump campaign aides.

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