Sanders says Trump believes that Mueller's probe has "gone too far" after federal agents raided the offices of the president's personal attorney Michael Cohen on Monday. Cohen said he paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence about her claim to have had a one-night-stand with Trump. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said she had sex with Trump in 2006.
An aide said Justice Department guidance that only Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein could fire Mueller was no more than guidance and did not apply to Trump, who has the authority to fire anyone in the executive branch.
By then, Cohen was working as an attorney at the Trump Organization and collecting income on a small number of medallions.
As part of the grand jury probe, they wrote, investigators had already searched multiple email accounts maintained by Cohen.
In his first public comments since the raid, Cohen told CNN on Tuesday that he is rethinking how he handled the payment to Daniels because of what it has done to his family. "The searches are the result of a months-long investigation into Cohen, and seek evidence of crimes, many of which have nothing to do with his work as an attorney, but rather relate to Cohen's own business dealings", said the filing, signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McKay. Cohen, whose attorney called the raid "completely inappropriate and unnecessary", has told me he made the payment to spare his friend and client the embarrassment of her allegations, whether they are true or not, not to influence the campaign.
"This is about getting Donald Trump at all costs even if it means stretching the boundaries of exceptions to attorney-client privilege", said former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo.
The New York Times, which first reported the news about the two women, said the search warrant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation raids also sought information about McDougal, who was paid $US150,000 by the parent company of The National Enquirer tabloid, which then withheld a story about her relationship with Trump.
Federal agents seized records on a variety of subjects in raids Monday on Cohen's Manhattan office, apartment and hotel room, including payments that were made in 2016 to women who might have damaging information about Trump.
The White House has denied there was a sexual relationship.
And it's likely that Cohen's reported activities - involving payoffs to women, a Russia-favouring "peace plan" for Russian Federation and Ukraine, and a business deal sought for a Trump Tower in Moscow - were of interest to federal authorities. The White House press secretary said Tuesday that Trump "certainly believes he has the power to do so".
On Capitol Hill, a bipartisan group of four senators moved to protect Mueller's job.
Trump spent Monday evening calling associates to vent and gauge their reaction to the news.
Trump attorney Joanna Hendon told the judge that the president has "an acute interest in these proceedings and the manner in which these materials are reviewed".
President Donald Trump's personal attorney is trying to prevent the government from using materials it found in a search of his office and residence this week. Needless to say, he is conflating his own political fortunes with the country's fate, since his own Justice Department named the special counsel who is conducting a lawful investigation.
The raid creates a new legal headache for Trump as he and his attorneys weigh whether to agree to an interview with Mueller's team.