Robert Khuzami Should Recuse Himself From Leading Michael Cohen/Deutsche Bank Criminal Investigation

After President Trump fired widely respected Preet Bharara as the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, he then personally interviewed candidates and selected Geoffrey Berman.

US Attorney for Southern District of New York, Past and Current

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Preet Bharara              Geoffrey Berman

Geoffrey Berman then made two major decisions, the first was to recuse himself from the Michael Cohen investigation and the second was to hire Robert Khuzami from Kirkland Ellis, who by default now leads the investigation.

Berman clearly knew there were major legal issues coming regarding Trump and Cohen and the question has to be asked, was Khuzami installed by Berman to be Trump’s “fixer?”

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Michael Cohen                Robert Khuzami

It is reported that Khuzami made $11 million last year at Kirkland Ellis, the major law firm he came from.   It is an interesting comparison to the salary schedule for his new position as assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York.

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From 2002-2009 Khuzami was a lawyer for Deutsche Bank, rising to Chief Counsel.  During this period he had major interactions with the Trump organization, which had been dealing with Deutsche Bank since 1998.  Clearly, this also means he interacted with Trump’s self proclaimed “fixer” Michael Cohen.

Click here for a detailed Deutsche Bank Relationship with Trump and his Associates

For example, Newsweek reports that in 2008 Steven Molo, at attorney for Deutsche Bank, clearly working with Khuzami, wrote a letter to the Supreme Court of New York about one of the company’s most troublesome clients. At issue was a $640 million loan to build a new hotel in Chicago.  The client personally guaranteed the loan but had defaulted.  The debtor in question: Donald Trump, the future president of the United States.

Click here for the complete Newsweek story

Khuzami later went from lead counsel at Deutsche Bank to being head of the Enforcement Division at the SEC from 2009-2013.  While some commend his efforts,  most recognize that the SEC gave most top execs a free pass on egregious financial fraud situations during the financial crisis.

Some would argue that Khuzami was nothing but their “fixer.”  Here is a letter I sent to Khuzami in 2011, which I was told was widely circulated in his division, and resulted in numerous major media stories.  Yet no comment from Khuzami.

Click here for a copy of 2011 letter to Khuzami while head of SEC Enforcement Division

Rather than hold Steve Schwarzman of Blackstone, George Robert of KKR and other private equity billionaires accountable for brazenly fraudulent activity, they instead got a token slap on the hand.

Khuzami then immediately went to Kirkland Ellis and worked against the very issues he should have been championing at the SEC.   His first year salary was more than $5 million at Kirkland Ellis, per media reports.

And now the question must be asked,  why is Khuzami being entrusted with supervising this most important investigation of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s fixer, when he has clear and significant conflicts of interest?  He is currently pushing to have the authority to review Michael Cohen’s emails to determine which are subject to attorney client privilege.

Whether an inside game or not, Khuzami clearly needs to recuse himself.

Two additional media references follow:

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