“The FBI is in possession of a recording between President Donald Trump and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen in which the two men prior to the election discuss a payment to a former Playboy model who has alleged an affair with Trump, Rudy Giuliani and a source familiar with the matter told CNN Friday.
Cohen has other recordings of the President in his records that were seized by the FBI, said both a source with knowledge of Cohen’s tapes and Giuliani, who described the other recordings as mundane discussions. Another source with knowledge of the tape, however, said the conversation is not as Giuliani described and is not good for the President, though the source would not elaborate.”
Now here are some ethics matters that the news media would be obligated to tell you, if journalists were, you know, competent, objective, and fair:
- It is equivocally unethical for a lawyer to surreptitiously record a client without the client’s knowledge or consent. Always, no exceptions. It is usually unethical for a lawyer to surreptitiously record anyone without their knowledge or consent, even in states that permit non-lawyers to do it.
Such conduct is a direct violation of the universal legal ethics rule that prohibits a lawyer from engaging ” in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”
- This fact is crucial to the story, and should be prominent in any discussion of it. I have not seen or heard this mentioned in any news reports.
Let me know if you do, please.
- The recording is also privileged, which means that it was information that a client provided to his lawyer in the course of seeking legal services or advice. As such, it cannot be used as evidence, unless the client, in this case, President Trump, consents. The client owns the privilege, not the lawyer who received the information, and not other lawyers the client may have.
I haven’t seen this critical information explained in any of the news reports either.
- Some sources, immediately deemed unimpeachable by the likes of non-lawyer Trump-hater Rachel Maddow and bad, dumb, incompetent lawyer Chris Cuomo, claim that the President’s lawyer waived the privilege by “talking about it.” I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Here is the all-too-typical “authority” being reported:
“Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Friday that a source familiar with the situation told her the tape was protected by attorney-client privilege, “but the president’s attorneys waived the privilege.”
What does “source” mean? What does “familiar” mean? What does “the situation” mean? When did news reporting slip this far into the muck? Whether or not what the President’s lawyers said—Rudy Giuliani characterized the recorded conversation to reporters, which is not the same as revealing it—privilege is taken extremely seriously by the courts and the legal profession, as is the client’s right to protect it. The recordings are not going to be deemed evidence until a courts says so, and until a court says so, any prosecutor that even listens to it risks being bounced out of the matter, along with his or her entire office. Yes, this even applies to the FBI.
- Cuomo really is an embarrassment. “They had to have waived this privilege for someone to be able to leak it out because it would be too damaging otherwise,” Cuomo argued. “If you have something that is subject of attorney-client privilege and someone leaks it out, they’ve got a big problem, especially if that person is Michael Cohen, who is a lawyer.”
Who can’t “leak it out,” you moron. And the recording was seized in a constitutionally questionable raid, not “leaked.” And lawyers can’t unilaterally waive a client’s privilege; only the client can do that.
- Maddow, meanwhile, said that Trump’s team took away power from Cohen to offer investigators “something really valuable.” Well, at least Rachel’s just a hopelessly biased smug partisan shill posing as an ethical journalist, who has the kind-of excuse of not ever setting foot in a law school class, unlike fellow “resistance” member Cuomo, but still: no, you unforgivable hack, Trump’s team knows that a lawyer can’t offer investigators a surreptitious recording of a client, because no judge would let them use it.
If they did use such illegally obtained evidence, they would risk having any other evidence they uncovered as a result also being excluded.
Finally, I must point out that everything about Michael Cohen smelled from the first time my life was blighted learning about his existence, three full years ago. He is so sleazy his image slips off my eyeballs, leaving a film. He sounds sleazy. He looks sleazy. He dresses sleazy.There is no explaining friendships, but though Trump didn’t consent to being treated unethically by this creep, he certainly set himself up for it, and has no excuse for being so reckless and stupid as to trust a lawyer like Cohen, who makes Lionel Hutz seem like Sir Thomas More. . If someone trusts people who virtually wear a neon sign that says, “I can’t be trusted!” and get burned as a result, I can’t muster much sympathy for him, especially when he boasts that he hires only “the best people.”
Only in Bizarro World can a lawyer like Michael Cohen be called “best.”