The Bubble: Mueller has 'declared war against the president,' Sean Hannity says
President Donald Trump lashed out Tuesday morning via Twitter over news that his attorney Michael Cohen's office and home was raided by federal agents. Associated Press reporter Eric Tucker breaks down whether Trump's complaints have merit. (April 10) AP
Each week, USA TODAY's OnPolitics blog takes a look at how media from the left and the right reacted to a political news story, giving liberals and conservatives a peek into the other's media bubble.
This week, commentators reacted to the stunning news that FBI agents raided the office of President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
Some conservatives reacted to the news as an attack on Trump and the rule of law, declaring it proof that special counsel Robert Mueller is out to get the president. Others were less concerned about the legality of the move than the risk that the investigation, like the Monica Lewinsky scandal, will shift from its primary focus to a crime related to a personal affair.
Many liberal commentators, on the other hand, saw the raid as an affirmation of Mueller's commitment to focus on Russian meddling because he referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Others argued the FBI's action spells imminent doom for Trump.
Conservative bubble: Mueller has 'declared war against the president of the United States'
"It is clear, as I have been warning, Mueller is out to get the president and it appears at any cost," said visibly agitated Fox News host Sean Hannity after the raid.
Mueller has effectively "declared war against the president of the United States," Hannity said. "Clearly, his objective is to remove him from office. Now, I told you and I've told anyone who will listen: Mueller's team is corrupt, starting with him, and it has been from the beginning."
The raid was also evidence of a double standard within a "two-tiered" American justice system because Hillary Clinton's lawyers never had their offices raided during the investigation into her use of a personal email server. "We don't have equal justice under the law," he said.
Liberal bubble: Trump the real target of the raid
Trump was "very worked up" after the news of the raid on Cohen's office broke, wrote Heather Digby Parton in Salon. And while it "wasn't the first time we've seen this president deliver a petulant and angry denunciation of the Russia probe," she said, "to do it as he sat around a table with the military brass, for a meeting called to decide how to respond to a chemical warfare attack, was stunningly narcissistic even for him."
His reaction makes sense because investigators have a lot to dig into with Cohen, Parton said.
Whether various federal officials are tracking Cohen's activities overseas, like the Moscow tower or the Ukraine speech, or the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels, it looks as though all roads lead to President Trump's personal lawyer. Considering that it's well understood whom Michael Cohen is working for every minute of every day, that means the road dead-ends at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Readers on Michael Cohen raid: Is this the beginning of the end for Donald Trump or Robert Mueller?
Conservative bubble: A Clinton impeachment rerun?
The raid on Michael Cohen's office was the "first thing in the Mueller investigation that makes any sense," according to The Federalist's Robert Tracinski.
Because the money Cohen gave to Stormy Daniels could be considered an illegal campaign contribution, Tracinski said, "Far from being an outrageous witch hunt, this is the only really convincing argument I’ve seen so far about a clear-cut crime being uncovered by the Mueller inquiry."
But the move signals that the special counsel could be heading for a repeat of the impeachment of former president Bill Clinton with a broad investigation that finds unrelated, personal crimes that lead to a divisive "battle where nobody really wins" and "everybody is to blame."
Liberal bubble: Trump's 'flaccid' response
As Trump rants go, his response to the raid on Cohen was "rather flaccid, considering the stakes," said Jamil Smith in Rolling Stone.
"The raids are a very big deal, as is the president responding as if he and his friends are above the law," Smith said. Calling the raids "an attack on our country" was a big jump from "witch hunt," and a leader nationalizing his own problems is "an authoritarian staple if there ever was one."
But, "as alarming as his rather traitorous comments could sound to the untrained ear, it was just more of the same: manic worry and anxiety from the guy who could be bombing Syria today and meeting North Korea’s dictator in the next several weeks."
Conservative bubble: What happened to collusion?
As with the charges against Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, the investigation into Cohen has almost nothing to do with Mueller's core mission: to investigate alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, said Washington Examiner Chief Political Correspondent Byron York.
"Again, it is important to note how little we know about what Mueller is doing. For all the public knows, a big collusion indictment could be coming tomorrow," York said. "But it is also important to note what we do know ... And so far, there have been no charges — not against Manafort or Gates, not against Michael Flynn, not against George Papadopoulos, or others — involving alleged collusion.
"The Mueller investigation is marching on, and in the case of Cohen, giving birth to new farm-team investigations, but so far at least, the story has not been about collusion," York wrote.
Liberal bubble: It's not a witch hunt
If the Mueller investigation was indeed a "witch hunt," as Trump and many of his supporters have claimed, the special counsel never would have referred the Cohen matter to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, argued CNN legal analyst Caroline Polisi.
"Rather, Mueller and his team would have maintained jurisdiction over the matter themselves," she said. "But that doesn't mean that the special counsel's office won't reap the benefits of any potential criminal charges brought by the Southern District."
If the Southern District uncovers evidence of criminal activity on the part of Michael Cohen, that means Mueller and his team can use this as leverage against Cohen in the Russia investigation. There is not a single person better qualified to help the special counsel's office in this regard.