ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl threw a little bit of a wrench into a media narrative after he reported Tuesday that U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Geoffrey Berman, in the office behind the Monday raid of Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen‘s office, is recused from the Cohen investigation.
The revelation flies somewhat in the face of a narrative, pushed by former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara on CNN on Monday night, that the raid was executed by people who have “basically been handpicked” by Trump.
Bharara, a former SDNY U.S. attorney himself replaced by Berman, has tweeted about the news, however, “That makes sense.”
Why does this matter? Many on social media took Trump-appointed, Republican Geoffrey Berman’s supposed direct involvement as proof that “this is not a witch hunt.”
It also spread to MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Karl, citing two sources familiar with the raid, reported that Berman was not involved in the decision-making about the raid because he is recused, with the approval of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
It was not specified who else in the SDNY office handled the raid in Berman’s stead.
What we do know is that federal prosecutors, in part on a referral from Robert Mueller, executed a search warrant at Cohen’s office on Monday and, as part of the search, the FBI seized “privileged communications between […] Michael Cohen, and his clients,” this according to Cohen’s attorney Stephen Ryan.
“I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller,” Ryan said.
Tax documents, business records and emails are reportedly being looked at, as well as records related to Stormy Daniels.
We also know President Trump was not pleased with the news, saying that it’s both proof that “attorney-client privilege is dead” and that a “total” witch hunt is afoot.
[Image via MSNBC screengrab]
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