Shockwaves from Monday’s FBI raid of the offices and home of Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer, continued to reverberate across Washington Wednesday. The incident so enraged the president that he’s now considering a massive shift in tactics, according to New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt.
Just hours after news of the raid broke, Trump called it “a disgraceful situation” and “an attack on our nation” in comments to reporters. He also characterized the larger investigation into his campaign’s collusion with Russia, as well as the campaign finance issues raised by the $130,000 payment made to Stormy Daniels, his porn star mistress, as a “witch hunt constantly going on.”
Somehow conflating an investigation and document seizure authorized by a judge – who would need to see at least some evidence of serious criminal wrongdoing before giving the go ahead for the raid – Trump even attacked special counsel Robert Mueller and his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.
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Compounding the issue for the president is that his own legal team is crumbling. Trump has yet to replace John Dowd, the high-powered lawyer who had been heading his defense in the Mueller investigation, who resigned on March 22nd.
Most analysts agree Dowd stepped down because the president had tired of his passive, delay-but-ultimately-placate strategy when it came to the special counsel. Trump and other members of his legal team have wanted to be more confrontational all along, feeling the president is at his best when he’s on offense, even when it comes to an opponent like Robert Mueller.
With Dowd out of the way, Trump has even begun reengaging Marc Kasowitz, his original lawyer representing the president when it was still the FBI overseeing the investigation into Russian collusion. Kasowitz stepped aside when that investigation was folded into the special counsel’s probe after Trump’s controversial firing of FBI Director Jim Comey.
The Times‘ Michael Schmidt spoke with MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace Wednesday to discuss Kasowitz’ return to favor, and what it could mean for the president’s legal strategy.
“He’s back, but he never left,” Schmidt said of Kasowitz. “Last summer, he was fired as Trump’s lead lawyer on the Russia, Mueller investigation,” he continued, “but the thing is, like everyone in Trump world, you’re never really gone, and Kasowitz continued to remain in the picture. He continued to represent the president in the civil matters that he has and has had an increasingly larger role in the recent months as other lawyers have fallen out.”
“And now he is working with Jay Sekulow, the president’s Washington lawyer down here,” he added. “He’s back in helping the president deal with the special counsel’s investigation.”
“The important thing to know about Kasowitz and to see going forward is that he wanted to take an adversarial approach to Mueller and does that mean that the president will do that as well?” he pointed out.
“What we’ve heard today is that the president does not want to sit down any more for an interview with Mueller,” Schmidt concluded. “He really wanted to do that, but at this point he has — he’s even more angry with him, even more distrustful of this and he is now listening to his lawyers on this, his lawyers being the ones who did not want him to do the interview.”
You can watch the entire MSNBC interview with Michael Schmidt below.