Unprecedented

10 April 2018

 

Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

FBI Raids Offices, Residence of Trump's Personal Lawyer

 

Yesterday, the FBI executed no-knock search warrants at the offices and residence of Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer of Donald Trump. The only thing worse than having the Feds go through one's files is having them go through the files of one's lawyer. President Nixon's personal lawyer, Herbert Kalmbach, spent more than 6 months in prison for his part in the Watergate cover-up, but the FBI never raided his home or office. Mr. Cohen has been Mr. Trump's attorney for all kinds of matters for many years. This may be as big as Alexander Butterfield testifying before a congressional committee confirming there was a taping system in Nixon's Oval Office.

Defenders of the president, and the man himself, have already complained that the action was a gross violation of the constitution, the latest obscenity in a witch-hunt and more. Like cornered rats, they have turned ever more vicious as the paths of retreat vanish. Yet, their fury is the only weapon they have left. The facts are against them.

First off, this is not part of the Mueller probe into collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. The Mueller team found evidence of bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance crimes and turned it over to the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman. Mr. Berman's investigators took over and arranged for the warrant. Moreover, given the way their operations overlap, Mr. Berman has almost certainly kept New York's Attorney General Eric Scheiderman informed. Violations of state laws may also have occurred. These investigations have nothing to do with Mr. Mueller.

Second, one doesn't get a warrant for this kind of search without a huge amount of evidence that something illegal occurred. No-knock raids are almost exclusively reserved for drug lords and mobsters, people who will readily destroy evidence. To put the president's personal lawyer in the same category demands more than a funny feeling. Lawyer-client privilege and a general presumption that member of the bar will behave ethically argue against this kind of treatment. So, one can infer that whatever Mr. Berman has in the way of proof is as solid as can be.

Third, the lawyer-client privilege is hardly as encompassing as most of the president's defenders make out. The privilege only covers what is said between the two parties as it relates to giving and receiving legal advice. If a third party is present, what is said isn't covered. If the conversation is not related to legal advice, it is not covered. If it relates to an on-going or future violation of the law, the privilege does not apply. So, the papers seized are, in all likelihood, not covered unless they are notes of conversations discussing legal strategy. An email that reads, "Hey, Donald, I paid the porn star off for you" is evidence any court would accept.

Fourth, the Hillary Clinton smoke-screen the president tried to use yesterday is irrelevant. Mr. Trump whined in a televised meltdown that the prosecutors are not looking at the sins of the "other side," of the numerous crimes of the Clintons. The term is "tu quoque," and it is easily refuted. Should all murderers go free because one murder was not prosecuted? Should the Nazis have been allowed to walk out of the courtroom at Nuremberg because the Soviets had their own camps? The Clintons, whom this journal has never liked politically except in comparison to Mr. Trump, may be as crooked as Mr. Trump says. It has no effect on his guilt or innocence.

It will be a long time before the public learns the contents of the records the FBI has seized. What is certain now, though, is that Mr. Cohen is in a great deal of trouble. He may not turn state's evidence against the president, but the fact that one can even suggest that he might shows how significant the events of yesterday were. Mr. Trump may well last out his term in office, but only because there are not 67 senators prepared to remove him if the House impeaches him next year under a Democratic majority.

 

@copy; Copyright 2018 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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