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Trump's perceived persecution fuels unrest

Donald Trump is acting like he feels the walls are closing in.The President perceives a marauding special coun...

Posted: Apr 11, 2018 1:39 PM
Updated: Apr 11, 2018 1:39 PM

Donald Trump is acting like he feels the walls are closing in.

The President perceives a marauding special counsel, an FBI plot to persecute him and a conspiracy within his own government to unfairly pry deep into his personal confidences held by a cherished confidant and personal attorney.

Aides say he believes he has the right to fire Robert Mueller, is sizing up Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and is fuming behind closed doors while groping for a way out.

Trump's tunnel vision about widening legal probes surrounding him and his White House may not reflect reality, or even the views of many supposed allies on Capitol Hill, but it's a powerful driving force behind his actions, as everyone waits with dread to see what happens next following Monday's FBI raid targeting his personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

In an early morning tweet Wednesday, the President denied there was a siege mentality in the White House, saying things were "very calm and calculated" and focused on trade with China, his approaching summit with North Korea and the chemical weapons attack in Syria.

But he lashed out at the "never ending and corrupt Russia Investigation, which takes tremendous time and focus. No Collusion or Obstruction (other than I fight back), so now they do the Unthinkable, and RAID a lawyers office for information! BAD!" Trump tweeted.

Deepening the sense of crisis, CNN reported Tuesday that Trump is actively considering dismissing Rosenstein in a bid to constrain Mueller, even though such a move would reignite claims he is bent on obstructing the special counsel's probe.

If Trump wields the ax against Rosenstein and then goes after Mueller, he would not only ignite a political storm but he also would raise doubts about the capacity of the US system of governance itself to hold a strongman President in check.

Washington on edge

Given those stakes, it's not surprising that Washington is on edge, even as everyone digests the staggering fact that FBI agents on Monday raided the offices and the residence in New York of Michael Cohen, the personal attorney of the President of the United States.

Cohen answered the door himself at the Loews Regency hotel when FBI agents arrived and had his cellphone confiscated on the spot, CNN's Erin Burnett and Don Lemon reported.

A source familiar with the raid told CNN that agents also secured Cohen's computer, business files and financial documents. The source said Cohen kept extensive electronic records.

Trump's state of mind following the raid was summed up by a single Tuesday morning tweet that read, "A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!"

Trump has vented many times before at what he sees as the utter injustice of the Mueller probe and at his subordinates, like Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who he thinks should be protecting him, not enabling the probe.

But sources inside the White House tell CNN they have never seen the President so furious, and they sense something felt different this time.

Trump's attitude toward Rosenstein, and the judicial system's code of internal integrity, seemed certain to take a further poisonous turn with news Tuesday that Geoffrey Berman, the interim US attorney for the Southern District of New York, which oversaw the Cohen raid, had recused himself from the matter.

The decision was Berman's and was approved by senior Justice Department officials within Rosenstein's office, a source told CNN's Laura Jarrett.

Anticipation that something grave is about to happen was meanwhile fueled by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisting that Trump "certainly" believes it is in his power to fire the special counsel.

Investigation out of control?

The President also believes that the search warrant executed against Cohen was a symptom of an investigation raging wildly out of control.

"I think that the President has been clear that he thinks this has gone too far," Sanders said, implicitly raising the question of what Trump would do to remedy the situation.

On Monday, surrounded by top military brass, Trump fumed that the raid on Cohen's offices and hotel room exemplified an "attack on our country" and openly toyed with the idea of dismissing the special counsel.

But Mueller followed protocol by referring the Cohen matter to legal authorities in New York and the raid was legally authorized, leaving little basis for Trump's claims it represented an assault on everything America stood for.

Some GOP senators made clear they didn't share the President's view.

"I do feel that the President believes he was violated, but certainly I wouldn't describe it as an attack on our nation," Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa told CNN's Jake Tapper.

While Republican senators, conscious of their delicate political position, are loath to back legislative efforts to shield Mueller, they don't want him gone.

"I think it would be suicide for the President to fire him," said Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas warned of "serious repercussions" if Mueller were dismissed.

The White House's confidence that Trump has every right to fire Mueller triggered alarm among Democrats, who would try to shame Republicans into acting to rein in the President if the special counsel gets the ax.

"The DOJ regulations could not be more clear; the President does not have the authority to remove special counsel Mueller," said Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

"Because of the attorney general's recusal, only Deputy AG Rosenstein could remove the special counsel, and it would have to be for good cause."

GOP dilemma

If the President were to find a way to dismiss Mueller, he would trigger outrage in Washington and present Republicans who control the House with a dilemma about whether to act or to side with constituents who strongly support Trump.

If he just sits tight and waits for the results of the special counsel's investigation, Trump must watch as his campaign, his presidency and even his personal life and business affairs become fodder for investigators.

It's no wonder that the President is so sensitive about Cohen. After all, the hard-charging lawyer is virtually family to the President and, as his personal fixer for over a decade, is in a position to know his most private business.

Cohen was behind a $130,000 hush payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

FBI agents who raided his offices also sought details of payments made to a former Playboy Playmate, Karen McDougal, and Daniels related to alleged affairs with Trump, CNN reported.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 752108

Reported Deaths: 13816
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033831790
Lake558431013
Allen41736693
St. Joseph37007565
Hamilton36617417
Elkhart29425461
Tippecanoe22938228
Vanderburgh22565400
Porter19369327
Johnson18486389
Hendricks17696317
Clark13233195
Madison13176344
Vigo12631253
LaPorte12429221
Monroe12226176
Delaware10970198
Howard10349224
Kosciusko9643121
Hancock8578147
Bartholomew8174157
Warrick7864156
Floyd7815180
Grant7248179
Wayne7164201
Boone6979103
Morgan6768141
Dubois6224118
Marshall6214116
Cass6024110
Henry5903110
Dearborn589878
Noble581688
Jackson509476
Shelby502396
Lawrence4753122
Gibson445595
Clinton443555
Harrison441775
DeKalb440385
Montgomery439890
Whitley406744
Huntington403381
Steuben400859
Miami395769
Jasper389155
Knox377691
Putnam373461
Wabash362383
Ripley347370
Adams345555
Jefferson336186
White332753
Daviess3035100
Wells295481
Decatur289892
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey274335
LaGrange273272
Scott270356
Clay267148
Washington246336
Randolph245183
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228159
Fountain222048
Sullivan214843
Owen212358
Fulton204043
Jay201032
Carroll193820
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion175344
Franklin170435
Tipton166646
Parke149616
Pike138334
Blackford136232
Pulaski120847
Newton114936
Brown104443
Benton102614
Crawford102516
Martin91815
Warren84115
Switzerland8158
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0424

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1109697

Reported Deaths: 20213
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1289521469
Cuyahoga1158802216
Hamilton814201251
Montgomery525861049
Summit484551006
Lucas43384824
Butler39098606
Stark33355930
Lorain25689506
Warren24612305
Mahoning22388602
Lake21219389
Clermont20138253
Delaware18892136
Licking16671225
Fairfield16589204
Trumbull16560483
Medina15618273
Greene15292248
Clark14244306
Wood13296200
Portage13254216
Allen11919239
Richland11611211
Miami10857225
Wayne9153225
Columbiana9039230
Muskingum8909135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8654251
Marion8649139
Erie8058165
Ashtabula7171179
Hancock6999133
Ross6948163
Geauga6850151
Scioto6540106
Belmont6159174
Union585049
Lawrence5741102
Jefferson5683159
Huron5554122
Sandusky5444126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5321109
Athens524460
Auglaize502487
Mercer487785
Shelby477095
Knox4573112
Madison444566
Ashland435997
Putnam4336104
Defiance432399
Fulton432274
Crawford4046110
Brown402761
Logan387678
Preble3859105
Clinton379266
Ottawa373581
Highland360266
Williams348578
Champaign344959
Guernsey325254
Jackson318454
Perry297350
Morrow291940
Fayette285750
Hardin275765
Henry273867
Holmes2703101
Coshocton269360
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240850
Wyandot234756
Hocking220663
Carroll197548
Paulding176642
Meigs148540
Monroe136345
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan110124
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
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Daily rounds of showers and thunderstorms will increase the flood threat across northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio.
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