Yesterday, it was disclosed that Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman recused himself in the probe of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen before the raids on his home, office, and hotel. The recusal raises obvious concerns and a range of theories. Given the overarching public interest in this investigation, Berman should disclose the general basis for the recusal.
One obvious concern is that President Donald Trump interviewed Berman for the position as U.S. Attorney. The interview broke with tradition and was highly ill-advised given investigations touching on Trump properties and interests. It is not clear if anything was raised in the interview that compelled Berman to recuse himself.
That interview has already been raised during Berman’s confirmation. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand vowed to block any formal nomination of Berman in January, due to the interview by Trump as the New York Times reported at the time.
It is probably more likely that there was a conflict given Berman’s prior work a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig. He may have had prior dealings with Michael Cohen or underlying parties involved in the allegations against Cohen. Whatever the reason, there is a valid interest in learning more of the rationale, even if it is a reference to the categorical rationale for recusal.