Trump Denounces FBI Raid On His Attorney And Alleged Chemical Attack In Syria
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
President Trump is lashing out at special counsel Robert Mueller after an FBI raid on his personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Here's what's happening. Cohen's lawyer said in a statement that the raid was based at least in part on a referral from the special counsel. It's not clear exactly what investigators may be after or whether this may be related to the Russia probe. Here's what Trump had to say tonight about the development.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's a disgrace. It's frankly a real disgrace. It's a - an attack on our country in a true sense. It's an attack on what we all stand for. So when I saw this and when I heard it - I heard it like you did - I said, that is really now in a whole new level of unfairness.
KELLY: NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith joins us now. Hey there.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hi.
KELLY: Hi. We can hear President Trump is clearly really upset about this - any indication what, if anything, he might choose to do about it?
KEITH: No, though he was asked if he was going to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel. The president said, we'll see what happens and also said that many people have said that he should fire him. But the president has said that before. We'll see what happens. He says it a lot. He's even said it about Mueller. He was highly critical, again, of his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who recused himself for the - from the Russia investigation. He even talked about Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who is overseeing the investigation and was critical of some of his decisions.
But you know, up until this point, people close to Trump's legal team have described a positive working relationship with Mueller as ongoing negotiations are underway about a possible interview with Trump. And again, they've all expressed confidence that there was no collusion with Russia, something that President Trump said again today.
KELLY: Something he said again today - OK, what - do we know what prompted President Trump to make those comments?
KEITH: So President Trump said, you know - he was at this meeting with military leaders focused on Syria and on the alleged chemical weapons attack there and the possible U.S. response. But he said that he had just learned about this raid on Cohen, and it made him upset. These comments came unprompted, and it just seemed like he needed to get something off his chest.
KELLY: Well, since you raised Syria, let me stick there for a minute because the president has promised a strong response to this reported chemical weapons attack there. Did we get any more detail this afternoon, tonight in terms of what that response might look like?
KEITH: The president has called this a heinous attack. He said that there are military options on the table. Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about those options, and she said more than once that not currently at this time is the U.S. involved in missile strikes in Syria. But she kept saying, not currently at this time, which left open the possibility. This evening, President Trump said that they were getting some good clarity on who was responsible for the attack and that there are a lot of military options. Quote, "we'll be letting you know pretty soon, probably after the fact."
KELLY: Probably after the fact. And yeah, you're right. Not currently at this time is something that would be overtaken almost the moment (laughter) that those words escape your lips, leaving you quite a lot of wiggle room. Just very quickly, Tam, what are the differences from last year at this time when President Trump did order a strike on Syria?
KEITH: Two big things. President Trump is more openly critical of Russia and Vladimir Putin and them possibly providing cover for Syria. Also, just a week ago, President Trump talked about pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, and he's taking some heat from Republicans like John McCain who say that he may have emboldened Assad.
KELLY: All right, thanks so much, Tam.
KEITH: You're welcome.
KELLY: That's NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.