Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says all Americans should be worried about civil liberties in the wake of the FBI’s raid on President Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen.
The nebulous limits to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation, coupled with his willingness to test them, had the Republican lawmaker ringing alarm bells Tuesday. Mr. Paul told a Fox News’ Bill Hemmer that the FBI’s legal tendrils have wandered far from their original target — the truth about possible collusion between Russian state actors and Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.
“The first question we ought to ask is what does this have to do with Russia,” Mr. Paul said during an “American Newsroom” appearance. “I thought the special prosecutor was investigating Russian collusion. Going after someone’s personal attorney is a great overstep, I think, in the authority of the prosecutor.
“This is why I have opposed really having special prosecutors for almost anything,” the lawmaker continued, the Daily Caller reported. “I think they abuse their authority. I think Mueller has abused his authority. They say, ‘well he asked somebody else, another U.S. attorney to do it.’ Yes, but this is coming at the behest of Mueller. I think this investigation no longer has much to do with Russia. I would warn people around America who … don’t like the president [that say], ‘Oh, this is just fine because it’s against President Trump.’ This is an enormous power used against anybody.”
Mr. Paul also seemed to critique New York Sen. Chuck Schumer for tweeting: “If @realDonaldTrump is thinking of using the FBI raid to fire Special Counsel Mueller or otherwise interfere with the chain of command in the Russia probe, we Democrats have one simple message for him: don’t.”
The Kentucky senator noted that Mr. Schumer’s January appearance on MSNBC implied corruption within the highest echelons of U.S. intelligence agencies.
“Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” the Senate Minority Leader told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “So, even for a practical supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”
Stephen M. Ryan, Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, told reporters Tuesday that the FBI raid was partly a referral by the Office of Special Counsel.
Sources told The New York Times that prosecutors are investigating possible campaign law violations linked to a nondisclosure payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, in addition to possible bank and tax fraud.
Mr. Ryan issued a statement calling the Manhattan raid “completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” given his client’s willing participation with the agency’s Russia investigation.
“It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients,” the lawyer said.
Mr. Trump called the FBI’s raid on his lawyer a “total witch hunt.”