The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion What a presidential president would have said about Michael Cohen

President Trump on April 9 said the raid by FBI agents of the office of Michael Cohen, his personal attorney, is a “disgraceful situation.” (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

HERE IS how President Trump responded to Monday’s news that the FBI obtained a warrant to search the office of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen:

“It’s a disgrace, it’s, frankly, a real disgrace, it’s an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an attack on all we stand for.”

“Attorney–client privilege is dead!”


Here is what a presidential president, and one with nothing to hide, might have said:

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, is under federal investigation. The Washington Post’s Tom Hamburger explains what you need to know. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

“No one is above the law. Michael Cohen has been my personal attorney for a long time, and he is entitled to a presumption of innocence. But his association with me does not and should not shield him from the workings of the law. Monday’s FBI raid proves the strength of our democracy and the institutions that sustain it.

“Some of my supporters might protest that this is an instance of prosecutorial bias on the part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. They say he has assembled a team of Democrats on a witch hunt. I appreciate their enthusiasm. But Mr. Mueller is a longtime Republican with a sterling record of probity.

“In any case, neither the special counsel’s party affiliation nor that of his lawyers matters. Over decades we have built institutions with a higher mission than advancing the interests of one party over another, and there are public-spirited people serving in those institutions whose first priority is to the rule of law. This is a rare and precious advantage that the United States has over many other countries, where power and politics determine who gets justice and who is denied.

“It is important that Americans remember that the country is bigger than any one person, with values and institutions that sustain our democracy from presidency to presidency. I am just one in a long line of caretakers. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be entrusted with this awesome responsibility must continually prove that we are worthy of the honor. That includes scrutiny of the associates we keep and the private dealings we engage in.

“This action could not have taken place without the review and approval of a series of independent officials, including Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, whom I appointed. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan got the warrant. They had to persuade a judge to issue that warrant, and they had to vault a high legal bar to do so, because raiding a lawyer’s offices risks exposing privileged communications between attorney and clients.

“I have confidence that the Justice Department will follow its carefully designed rules to protect attorney-client communications. If investigators discover evidence of a crime, the law and common sense dictate that investigators can use that evidence; otherwise, such material is off limits.

“Under extreme political pressure, our justice system has worked honorably, and I trust that it will continue to do so, which is why I have assured the Justice Department that Mr. Mueller and all other prosecutors can continue their investigations for as long as they need with no interference, pressure or carping from me.”

Read more here:

The Post’s View: What a presidential president would have said about his first year

Ruth Marcus: Firing Mueller would only make things worse for Trump

Randall D. Eliason: Michael Cohen is in serious legal jeopardy

Paul Waldman: President Trump has never been in more trouble than right now