Ex-SEC Chief Believed to Be Behind Trump Attorney Raid

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen appears in front of members of the media on Sept. 19, 2017, after a closed-door meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington. Federal agents carrying court-authorized search warrants have seized documents from Cohen, according to a statement from Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan. He says that the search warrants were executed by the office of the U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York but they are “in part” related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

MANHATTAN (CN) – President Donald Trump has depicted the FBI raid on his attorney’s home as a partisan witch hunt, but the deputy U.S. attorney who likely authorized it is a former Republican donor affiliated with Deutsche Bank.

The revelations follow reports Tuesday that U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman recused himself before law enforcement executed a search warrant on the home, hotel room and office of Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Multiple news outlets have reported that the search was referred by special prosecutor Robert Mueller but carried out by the Southern District of New York, which Berman has led since his appointment by Trump in January.

In his previous role at Kirkland & Ellis, the world’s highest-grossing law firm, Berman worked with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, himself a former surrogate of Trump’s on the 2016 campaign trail.

The news of Berman’s recusal from the Cohen investigation suggests meanwhile that Monday’s raid came on orders from Robert Khuzami, the prosecutor’s top deputy.

Khuzami is also a former partner of Berman’s at Kirkland & Ellis, in addition to having once led the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division.

Other features of Khuzami’s background include his support of Republican candidates and past role as managing director of Deutsche Bank Americas Corp.

During his tenure at the German bank in 2007, Khuzami disclosed to the Federal Election Commission that he donated a maximum individual contribution of $2,300 to the political campaign of Senator John McCain as well as $2,000 donation to the Deutsche Bank political action committee.

Not too long after these donations, the global economy plunged because of the sale of mortgage-backed securities that major banks like Deutsche sold to investors on false pretenses.

The Department of Justice slapped Deutsche Bank with a $7.2 billion fine for contributing the 2008 financial crisis earlier this year.

Second-in-command to U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in New York, this headshot of Robert Khuzami shows the lawyer during his prior role as director of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Khuzami’s appointment to the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division straight from his position in Deutsche Bank at this fateful time angered critics who called it symptomatic of a revolving-door culture between the financial sector and the industry’s appointed regulators.

Under Khuzami’s tenure, the commission broke records in bringing cases and obtaining fines, but its critics accused the regulators of helping Wall Street executives avoid criminal prosecution through civil penalties that would not deter major banks.

Khuzami’s ties to Deutsche Bank could hold special significance for the investigation of Trump and his allies.

Before Trump became president, the Wall Street Journal depicted Deutsche Bank as the then-Republican candidate’s top lender, leading or participating in loans of at least $2.5 billion to his businesses since 1998.

Mueller reportedly subpoenaed such bank records, but it is unclear whether the scope of the search warrant included Deutsche matters.

A spokeswoman for the Southern District of New York declined comment on whether Khuzami would recuse himself if the investigation turns to Deutsche.

Citing anonymous sources, the New York Times reported that raid on Cohen’s properties sought records concerning the $130,000 payment he made to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

The FBI also reportedly is looking into records related to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also claims to have had an affair with Trump.

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