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Quote of the Day: There is an Exception to the Attorney-Client Privilege

2018-04-13

There is an exception to the attorney-client privilege if communications with an attorney are used in furtherance of a crime or fraud; that could come into play here as well. And documents related to anything Cohen did on his own — after all, Trump has denied knowing about the payment to Daniels — are likely not privileged if they do not contain attorney-client communications. Documents are not automatically privileged simply because they passed through an attorney’s hands.

–From a Washington Post “opinion” piece about the FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s office and hotel room Monday morning.   Mr. Trump stated then, in front of his military chiefs, that the raid was “an attack on America” and the next day, he claimed that “attorney-client privilege is dead”– just more flaming falsehoods from a man who is vying for the title “Father of Lies.”

Some things about Michael Cohen are remarkable.  The first, obviously, is that he is of Jewish heritage– Cohens are traditionally a hereditary class of Jewish religious persons (“Cohen” literally means “priest” in Hebrew) who are supposed to interpret the Law (religious law.)  The fact that Mr. Trump would employ a Jew may surprise some in the anti-Trump camp who believe that he is prejudiced against Jews (among many other non-German people, mostly of a darker shade.)  It is true that Mr. Trump holds massive prejudices, but he also holds tremendous degrees of stereotypy, one of those stereotypes being that Jews are good with money and the law.  Based on this stereotype, Mr. Trump is known to employ Jews to handle his money issues as well as his legal issues.  He has been known to make statements about not wanting African-Americans to handle his money counting duties– presumably because they “can’t handle” money without it slipping through their fingers into their pockets, among other places.

It is known that Mr. Trump employs people based on such simplistic stereotypes, as well as based on personal acquaintance.  For example, he hired his former chauffeur to a high-level Administration position.  He is not known to defer to investigations or “due diligence” reviews of persons whom he wishes to hire or retain.  This is a bad thing.

In any case, regardless of Mr. Cohen’s heritage, the FBI’s execution of a search warrant on him is a potentially serious turning point in the FBI’s investigation.  Mr. Cohen has been Mr. Trump’s lawyer for a long time, and is known to have done a number of questionable things for him, the most famous so far being his payment, allegedly from his personal funds, just prior to the presidential election, of $130,000 to the woman known as Stormy Daniels.  The only known connection of “Stormy Daniels” to either Mr. Cohen or Mr. Trump is that she recently came out on “Sixty Minutes” with a tale of a one-night stand twelve years ago between her and Mr. Trump.  Unless Mr. Cohen himself received substantial personal services from “Ms. Daniels” there is a substantial suspicion that the payment represented an unlawful campaign contribution, in this case to buy her silence.

Mr. Trump, just a few days ago, claimed that he did not know of Mr. Cohen’s payment to the lady in question.  This is odd because of the alleged existence of a contract between the two (Trump and “Daniels”) that specifies said payment and spells out certain actions that she will be obligated to perform (or not perform) in return for that payment.  She has come out with the statement that the contract is void because Mr. Trump never signed it, even using the pseudonym by which he is referred to in the document.  We can understand why Mr. Trump would not sign such a document; what we have difficulty with is the concept that he thought he could get away with any of this.

The only logical answer to that question is the observation that he has “gotten away with it” many, many times in the past, either by resort to money payments, blank denials, or physical threats, all of which “Ms. Daniels” has alleged in this case.  The task before Democrats, liberals, and progressives this November is to make sure that he no longer gets away with it.  Whether this is by reducing him to impotence with majorities in the House and Senate or by actual impeachment (preferably of BOTH Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence) in the House is a matter that has not been yet settled.  I would favor impeachment of both malefactors, which can readily be drawn out all the way from January 2019 to the next Presidential election in November 2020– for maximum effect.

There is one variable which I cannot confidently predict but fear nonetheless: what happens to the economy between now and then.  A crash between now and November is unnecessary but significantly possible– I’m sure the Democrats can win in November without the assistance of the economy.  The possibility of Mr. Trump’s actions having a serious negative effect on the economy is very significant, and particularly troublesome in light of the fact that he has “baked in” huge federal deficits as far as the eye can see– despite the current strength of the economy, which in conventional economic thought, should dictate a federal surplus– that is, higher taxes and spending on tangible objects (that is, infrastructure or at least weapons systems.)  (I’m following Paul Krugman here, not the right-wing conservative economic “unicorns.”)

(today’s photo is courtesy of pixabay.com and jplenio, and represents “the light at the end of the tunnel”– let us hope that it is not an oncoming train.)

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