- Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein reportedly told President Donald Trump last week that he is not a target in the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen.
- Shortly after, Trump is said to have told close advisers that because he was not a target of the probe, it was not the right time to fire Rosenstein.
- Trump was infuriated with Rosenstein since last week and was seriously considering ousting him after it emerged that the FBI raided Cohen’s property and seized scores of documents and records, many of which involved communications between Trump and Cohen, and materials related to Trump’s personal activities.
Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump last week that he is not a target of any aspect of the federal criminal investigation into Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, according to multiple media reports.
Rosenstein’s reported personal assurance, which was apparently made during a visit to the White House on Friday, came as Trump fumed over the FBI’s raids of Cohen’s home and office that had taken place just days before and seriously began considering firing Rosenstein.
Shortly after Rosenstein made the revelation, Trump is said to have told his closest advisers that because he was not a target of the probe, it was not the right time to oust the deputy attorney general, Bloomberg reported.
A subject is someone who is under criminal investigation. A target is someone against whom prosecutors have enough evidence to charge with a crime.
Investigators working for the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York seized the following when they raided Cohen’s property last week: tape recordings, personal financial records, electronic devices, documents related to payments made to women who have alleged affairs with Trump; records related to a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape featuring Trump making lewd remarks about women; and communications between Trump and Cohen.
Attorneys representing Trump and Cohen are currently fighting a case against prosecutors to shield them from reviewing communications they believe are protected by attorney-client privilege. The FBI is using a “taint team” – a separate set of investigators walled off from prosecutors who are responsible for separating out privilege documents – but both Trump and Cohen have argued that it should not have access to their communications.
On Monday, a federal judge ordered attorneys representing Cohen and the Manhattan US attorney’s office to each put forward four nominees for special master, an independent lawyer tasked with sorting through seized communications and sorting out those that are privileged.
The judge, Kimba Wood, stressed that she had not yet made a decision on whether or not to appoint a special master. Cohen’s attorneys floated four possible names, while prosecutors suggested three others.
Meanwhile, Joanna Hendon, an attorney representing Trump, argued Monday that a special master would not suffice and that only Trump has the right to go over the seized communications and decide what is privileged and what can be reviewed by prosecutors.
On Thursday, the Trump Organization filed a motion to join Cohen’s and Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block prosecutors from reviewing the documents and records they obtained during the raids.