A Very Sober And Serious Lawsplainer Of Michael Cohen's WORLD OF SHIT
SAYS THE FBI, THAT'S WHO!
WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED YESTERDAY? There was a knock-knock at all three of Michael Cohen's doors at once, he did that stupid SAYS WHO? thing, and then a bunch of lawyers stormed in and said SAYS THE FBI! They took Cohen's phone, computer, and a huge pile of papers and were out before the media -- in the same building -- knew what was up.
Or as Donald Trump put it, "I just heard that they broke in to the office of one of my personal attorneys.” Because in our current bizarro hellscape, federal agents executing a valid warrant signed by a judge are exactly the same as a gang of crowbar-wielding thugs wearing balaclavas.
This will get very, very ugly. Trump was openly talking about firing Mueller at a press conference yesterday! So let's break it all the way down to prepare for whatever crazy, illegal shit is about to come out of the White House.
No, but seriously! What the fuck just happened?
Look, the only people who really know are the lawyers who executed the warrant, and they aren't talking. Most of what we're getting is self-serving arglebargle from Cohen's attorney Stephen Ryan. Although, credit where credit is due, he's orders of magnitude less ridiculous than David Schwartz!
It sounds like Mueller's investigation kicked up something outside his scope, and Rod Rosenstein handed it off to the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY). Yesterday, SDNY conducted a no-knock raid on Cohen's home, law office in the famous "30 Rock" building, and his room at the Loews Regency Hotel. (Why is Cohen staying in a fancy hotel when he has an apartment? And how pissed is NBC that the FBI was in their building, and they didn't know it?)
The Post reports that investigators were looking for possible evidence of bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations. In which case, they've come to the right place ALLEGEDLY! Some of the evidence seized relates to the Stormy Daniels payout, but you can color us highly skeptical that they conducted three, simultaneous raids over a pissant $130,000. They're seizing Trump's communications with his attorney over a shitty little campaign finance violation? Not bloody likely.
So, is this a Deep State WITCH HUNT?
No, Donald, it isn't.
A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 10, 2018
Oh, FFS! In the course of his investigation, Robert Mueller, A REPUBLICAN, found evidence of a serious crime involving the president's personal attorney. He turned it over to Rod Rosenstein, A REPUBLICAN, who likely consulted with his Russiagate deputy Ed O'Callaghan, A REPUBLICAN, who worked on the McCain campaign.
The case was handed over to the US Attorney for SNDY, Geoffrey Berman, A REPUBLICAN who maxed out his contributions to the Trump campaign and was appointed by the president himself. [Looks like Berman is recused! The case is being handled by Deputy Imma Democrat, PROBABLY.]
So is this, like, NORMAL?
No, definitely not. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, Popehat is your guy. If you don't, just remember that the SDNY huddled up with the DOJ's Criminal Division and they all agreed that Cohen likely had evidence of a crime and that he was unlikely to disclose it even if they subpoenaed him. And when they showed their evidence to a judge, she said, "Yowza! That Cohen guy is slippery! Get on it, boys!" Or words to that effect.
As Alan Dershowitz told The Daily Beast, “It’s a tactic generally used against organized crime, against very serious, very serious criminals and lawyers who are operating outside of the protections of the law."
Cohen's lawyer complained that the search was "completely inappropriate and unnecessary," since his client has already testified for hours and is cooperating with the Mueller investigation. And yet, a boatload of career prosecutors still believed they had to break the door down to get what they needed, so ... draw your own conclusions.
But Attorney-Client privilege! And there's no such thing as a "Taint Team!" You guys made that up!
LOL, NOPE! And we think we know the title of Stormy's next movie.
Attorney–client privilege is dead!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 10, 2018
O GOD, WHY ARE YOU STILL TALKING?
Look, the warrant is sealed, so no one knows exactly why the DOJ and the magistrate judge thought they needed to seize Cohen's communications with Trump. But we do know that you can't assert attorney-client privilege to cover up evidence of an ongoing crime, aka the crime-fraud exception.
This is correct. Worth remembering the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege here, too, which is that you can't use your lawyer to facilitate or shield commission of a crime. https://t.co/G2cDz2rd7u
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) April 9, 2018
And we can't help but notice that people in Trumpland seem to take a very liberal view of attorney-client privilege. Remember when Don Jr. insisted that he didn't have to testify about his communications because a lawyer was in the room? Sometimes karma takes the form of a pack of FBI agents packing your computer into an evidence box.
Now a separate team of lawyers known as THE TAINT TEAM (OMG, we know!) will go over the privileged stuff and weed out the parts that are actual lawtalkin', unrelated to an ongoing crime.
13/ If the taint team found communications between Trump and Cohen that were not privileged, those communications could be used in the investigation. An example would be communications that are completely unrelated to legal advice, or communications furthering an ongoing crime.
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) April 9, 2018
So if Trump said something like, "Vanky sat on my lap and asked me in that baby voice not to put tariffs on her clothing line," it wouldn't be privileged because Cohen is only Trump's personal lawyer. He doesn't represent Trump in his official capacity.
So, now what?
Fuck if we know! If we had to guess, Trump will fire Rosenstein and try to get some toady in there to stick a knife in the Mueller investigation. His BFF Lou Dobbs wants him to go for broke and just fire Mueller directly.
WATCH: Lou Dobbs tears into Mueller: I'd fire the SOB in three seconds if it were me https://t.co/gqdyLGOHNRpic.twitter.com/KFXGC4mpLU
— The Hill (@thehill) April 10, 2018
But that's a heavy lift, and Rosenstein can be booted easily. So get your protesting shoes ready, people! Because we're going to need to get out in those streets if Trump tries to kill the Russia investigation.
And in the meantime, please to go and fuck with Lou Dobbs's push poll.
#LDTPoll: Do you believe the corrupt leadership and actions of the DOJ and FBI are now so outrageous and overwhelming that President Trump should fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein?
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) April 9, 2018
Everything is fucked up, so take your fun where you can get it!
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[NYT / WSJ / WaPo / CNN / Popehat / Vanity Fair / The Daily Beast]
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.