The most obvious mystery of the No-Knock Warrant issued against Michael Cohen out of the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York is that the person who sought the warrant from that office was not the interim U.S. Attorney for that office, Geoffrey Berman. He recused himself from involvement in the Cohen case.
There are many bases on which an attorney can recuse himself from a matter, the two most common being an actual conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest. What we know about Berman is that he was personally interviewed by Trump for the job as Interim U.S. Attorney of SDNY and that he donated to Trump’s campaign. We do not know why he recused himself, nor whether he was pressured to do so. We do know that Rod Rosenstein signed off on both the no-knock warrant and Berman’s recusal.
If Berman’s only basis for recusal was the appearance of impropriety – as Allahpundit at Hot Air speculates – once again we have a Republican bringing a safety pin to a fight where the proggies bring tanks and are not playing by the same set of rules. We can see multiple examples of real conflicts of interest that have been ignored by the DOJ in the special counsel fishing expedition — Rod Rosenstein for his involvement in Uranium One, his potential criminal exposure for signing off on an extension to the unlawful Carter Page warrant, and of course his unlawful authorization of for the special counsel to conduct the entire counter-intelligence investigation instead of limiting his jurisdiction to a specific crime; Mueller for his close personal relationship to Comey; Mueller’s team for their overt support of Hillary Clinton . . . and I could go on.
Far more likely, I suspect that Mueller passed on information to the SDNY that was specifically crafted to bring within its ambit some legal work done previously by Berman. According to Hot Air, the warrant sought information on the payoff to Stormy Daniels, ATI’s contract with Playboy Bunny Karen McDougal, and, according to ABC News, a payment of $150,000 to Trump Foundation in by a Ukrainian billionaire in 2015 for a speech. In all fairness to ABC, they do an even handed job of pointing out that the same man
donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation over the years, and the New York Times reported that he lent his private plane to the Clintons. His name also appears in State Department emails made public by the group Citizens United as being invited to a small private dinner with then-Secretary Clinton.
Do hope that the special counsel is right on top of that one.
Lastly, there was one other basis listed in the warrant for the no-knock raid — the NYC taxi medallions that Cohen owns in his own private portfolio.
What the hell?
Did Mueller and SDNY crowd tack on the taxi medallions as a means to engineer the recusal of Berman? To date, I can find no one who has contacted Berman and asked him about the justification and circumstances surrounding his recusal. The stench of all of this just got significantly stronger.