The New York Times report claiming Donald Trump asked then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to appoint a friendly prosecutor in New York “pattern of obstructive conduct,” one former US attorney noted Wednesday.
As the Times reported, Trump asked Whitaker if he could appoint Geoffrey Berman — a former law partner of Rudy Giuliani’s — to the high-profile Southern District of New York that would be overseeing cases related to the president, including that of his former “fixer” Michael Cohen.
Berman was recused from the case last year, and according to the Times, Trump asked Whitaker if he could get the attorney to un-recuse.
Chuck Rosenberg, a former FBI official and US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, noted on MSNBC Wednesday that he’d “never heard of” an “un-recusal.”
If the Times‘ reporting is accurate, Rosenberg said, “it fits into a pattern that we have seen unfolding, unraveling over time” that shows Trump “threatening witnesses or hanging out the promise of pardons or trying to use Twitter to intimidate.”
“Why does the pattern matter?” the former acting Drug Enforcement Agency director mused. “In order to prove obstruction, as we’ve discussed on air, you need to show intent, corrupt intent.”
When you put those pieces together, Rosenberg added, a larger picture begins to take shape showing “that the president wasn’t simply seeking to have Berman put back in place because he thinks he’s the best US Attorney in the country.”
“It’s that he wants Berman back in place on the case because he believes Berman will protect him,” the Lawfare contributor said. “That pattern of obstructive conduct could be a violation of criminal law.”