A Monday, the FBI raided the offices of Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen is President Trump's personal attorney. The President criticized the raid in early-morning tweets Tuesday. Communications between clients and their lawyers are privileged. The communications are beyond the reach of law enforcement. Authorities have the ability to waive this provision when the occasion warrants it. The exact reason for the raid was unclear.

President Donald Trump depends on television as a prime ally in connecting to his political base. But on Monday he allowed the electric eye to inflict a crushing blow to his own image, and to his war against the FBI and the Mueller investigation. He became totally unglued as he ranted against their latest foray at him.

Cameras were admitted to cover what were to be his comments on the horrific use of poison gas against innocent children and others in Syria. He condemned it as expected, but then he segued into a whining complaint against an FBI raid on the office of his private lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen. In that raid, papers were seized dealing with certain Trump personal and business matters. That may include a reported payout by Mr. Cohen of $130,000 in hush money to porn film actress Stormy Daniels to buy her silence on a sexual relationship with Mr. Trump.


The president resumed his attack on the nation's chief law-enforcement arm, repeating all his previous allegations of a "witch hunt" against in the Mueller investigation of Russian meddling in his 2016 election. He insisted again there was "no collusion" and pivoted again to his charges that investigators ignored allegations of 33,000 emails by Hillary Clinton, his 2016 Democratic opponent.

Mr. Trump also repeated his lament that Trump-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions "made a terrible mistake" in recusing himself from the Russian inquiry -- correctly, inasmuch as he had been a key member of the Trump campaign team.

Calling the raid "a whole new level of unfairness," Mr. Trump even sought to contend it was "an attack on our country."

"In a true sense," he said, "it's an attack on what we all stand for."

He also sought to blame party partisanship, although Mr. Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, supervising the investigation, are both Republicans. So are the two U.S. attorneys in New York who approved the warrants authorizing the search of Mr. Cohen's office, home and hotel room were the papers were scooped up.

Among the significant features of the FBI raid was the fact it apparently had nothing to do with the Mueller investigation. That was a reason the Cohen matter was turned over to the New York office to deal with suspicions of unrelated bank and wire fraud, according to The Washington Post.

In the televised regurgitation of all his old defenses of "no collusion," the president appeared uncommonly rattled by this latest FBI reach into his personal and business affairs. Near the end, he was asked directly by a reporter, "Why don't you just fire Mueller?"

Repeating the question, Mr. Trump danced around it, finally replying: "I fired (FBI Director James) Comey. Well, I turned out to do the right thing, because if you look back at all of the things that he's done and the lies, and you look at what's gone on at the FBI ... it turned out I did the right thing."

Did that suggest he was going to fire Mr. Mueller after all? He danced around some more, finally saying: "So we'll see what happens. I think it's disgraceful, and so do a lot of other people. This is a pure and simple witch hunt."

For once, Mr. Trump seemed boxed in. He was on his own now, having shed most of the staff watchers assigned to save him from himself, and he was uncharacteristically unready to say his once-favorite line, "You're fired."

Still ahead is a potential direct confrontation interview of the president by the tenacious and relentless Bob Mueller. It seems unlikely after this latest uncertainty that Mr. Trump will say those words to him in person. And even if he does, the investigation will not go away. Another special counsel would have to be named, and a Senate intelligence committee is still examining evidence.

Any abrupt firing of Messrs. Mueller or Rosenstein would almost certainly surface legislation in Congress against such a move, as well as a huge public outcry for a prompt replacement with another well-regarded Justice Department investigator.

The basic question of whether a president can be accused of a criminal act would likely create a constitutional crisis over the widely accepted premise in this country that no individual is above the law.

Jules Witcover is a syndicated columnist and former long-time writer for The Baltimore Sun. His latest book is "The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power" (Smithsonian Books). His email is juleswitcover@comcast.net.