We have become accustomed to the weekly news cycle being interrupted by the quarter turn of information about Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election.
But this week saw a blockbuster emerge. FBI agents raided the office and home of Michael Cohen, the personal attorney of President Trump. The federal agents reportedly seized documents related to the president’s alleged affairs with two women, including Stormy Daniels.
That raid is awfully close to the president himself, a fact which is reflected in Trump’s response. Trump sent an angry series of tweets practically accusing Mueller of treason.
Barbara McQuade is former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, and current law professor at the University of Michigan. She says though the FBI went to Cohen’s office for files related to alleged affairs with two women, the documents could turn up new issues for the president.
“By looking through those files, they may stumble on other files that implicate President Trump,” McQuade tells Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson.
McQuade says the president’s public statements and anger around the investigation may be hurting him in the long run.
“As a lawyer, if President Trump were my client I would every day be pulling out my hair because he makes a lot of statements that…seem like a person who is guilty and not innocent, and also could really be used against him to his detriment.”
President Trump says the FBI raid on his personal lawyer is a violation of attorney-client privilege. McQuade says Trump’s own statements about his lawyer and the Stormy Daniels case may have inadvertently rendered the attorney-client privilege moot. Last week Trump said he didn’t know about any payment from Cohen to Daniels.
“The privilege only protects communication designed to obtain legal advise from your lawyer,” says McQuade. “So I think many of these statements, although designed to help him gain approval or popularity with his base, can be very legally perilous for him.”
Henderson also speaks with presidential historian Jeffrey Engel about how past administrations have handled internal or personal crises while balancing the challenges of running the country. Engel is director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University.
“This is not necessarily the greatest national crisis and chaos and turmoil we’ve seen,” says Engel. “But it is certainly the greatest White House turmoil we’ve seen.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.