IF SO, WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
by Sharon Rondeau
Cohen has acted as Donald Trump’s personal attorney and previously worked at the Trump Organization.
Before the congressmen’s letter was sent to Sessions on Monday, Rep. Jordan said that “Attorney General Jeff Sessions should have been notified of plans to raid the offices, home, and hotel room of President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen.”
The congressmen wrote that the raid, carried out by the U.S. Justice Department and its subsidiary, presented “unique circumstances” which should have initiated “approval from the highest levels of the department.”
Supportive of that contention is an April 9 article at Business Insider which described the raid as “a big deal” which required the Justice Department to “go to extraordinary lengths” to conduct. Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III reportedly referred evidence he found during the course of his “Russia” investigation to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
According to Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan, as quoted in The New York Times, “privileged communications” were seized from his client. Citing unnamed sources, The Times reported that “emails, tax documents and business records” were removed by the FBI.
The Times, too, said that the “aggressive move” by Justice replaced the issuance of customary grand jury subpoenas for documentation.
The documentation may be unrelated to the Mueller probe. In September, Cohen submitted a statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee denying all allegations that he “colluded” in any way with Russian operatives during the 2016 campaign. On the same day his statement was published by CNN, a meeting scheduled between Cohen and the committee was canceled based on the committee’s claim that Cohen had abrogated an agreement not to “speak with the media.”
Trump denounced the April 9 raid as an attack on attorney-client privilege and “a disgraceful situation.” Approval for the action reportedly was given by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. On April 12, Rosenstein met with Trump at the White House, with rumors emanating shortly thereafter that he might be fired.
Last May, Rosenstein brought in Mueller to conduct the two-pronged “Russia” probe into interference in the U.S. 2016 election and whether or not anyone from the Trump campaign “colluded” with Kremlin operatives to secure the White House for the now-former real-estate mogul and billionaire businessman.
Citing unnamed sources, Politico reported on Wednesday that Trump allies “are increasingly worried that his longtime personal attorney might be susceptible to cooperating with federal prosecutors.” Trump has refuted that assertion by tweeting that he does not foresee Cohen “flipping” on him.
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman, who was reportedly appointed by Sessions, has recused himself from matters pertaining to the Cohen investigation, according to an unnamed source quoted by The New York Daily News.
Trump has been severely critical of Sessions since March of last year, when he recused himself from anything related to Russia and the 2016 election as a result of his having been an adviser to the Trump campaign. Some legal experts and Trump himself have opined that Sessions’s recusal was unnecessary.
On Tuesday, The New York Daily News reported that “Rosenstein, as the No. 2 official at the Justice Department, is responsible for coordinating and resolving any conflicts between the Mueller probe and the Cohen investigation. In a sign of how senior Justice Department officials can become involved in investigative matters, Rosenstein approved an FBI raid earlier this month on Cohen’s home, office and hotel room that seized a trove of information.”
Citing an unnamed source, on Friday The Washington Post reported that if Rosenstein is terminated, Sessions will resign. Sessions has not recused himself from the Cohen probe, The Daily News reported, although Bloomberg on Tuesday wrote that he “will consider stepping back from specific questions tied to the probe, according to a person familiar with the matter.”
On Saturday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said in a Sunday interview that the electronic communication (EC) long-sought from the Justice Department and which he was finally provided on April 11 revealed that the counterintelligence investigation launched by the FBI in July 2016 into the Trump campaign on “collusion” allegations was based on “no official intelligence.”