Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/19/2017: ‘Due Process? We Don’ Need No Stinkin’ Due Process!’

Good Morning!

(Lights on the tree about 30% done, and the prickle wounds aren’t infected so far..)

1 Now, now, let’s not forget the wisdom of Joseph Goebbels...More questions about the objectivity, professionalism and fairness of the Meuller investigation are roiling D.C., even though the President isn’t about to fire the Special Counsel, though the mainstream news media went out of its way last week to make you think he was.

For example, were you following the Bruce Ohr fiasco? The former associate deputy attorney general, who was supposed to appear yesterday before the leaky Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday but didn’t, was demoted by the Justice Department when it was revealed that he had not disclosed that he had met with with officials from Fusion GPS, the people who prepared the salacious and discredited “Trump dossier.” Ohr had been part of the Meuller investigation too, but then it was learned that that his wife not only worked for Fusion GPS,  she worked on the anti-Trump opposition research that was apparently paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign. Is it partisan to question  how Meuller allowed people like Ohr and Strzok to be on his team in the first place? No, it’s not. In fact, it’s partisan NOT to ask that.

Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers have challenged Mueller’s grab of transition team e-mails as a likely breach of attorney client privilege. (This will be in my next year’s Government Lawyer Ethics seminar for sure.) Writes attorney Robert Barnes, in part, on LawNewz:

According to published reports, Special Counsel Robert Mueller engaged in a mass seizure of all emails of the Trump transition team without even a warrant or a subpoena. In my opinion, a mass seizure – as is alleged here against Mueller – cannot conform to either Fourth Amendment standards or attorney-client privilege protections. The questions boils down to this: was there a reason for the individuals communicating by email, including with their lawyers, to believe their communications were private or privileged? Or, did the individuals forever waive or “implicitly consent” to any future search or seizure of their emails?

…The Mueller search runs afoul of many…established court precedents and Fourth Amendment privacy and privilege principles. First, it appears Mueller searched and seized every email, without any kind of categorical or keyword search. This is exactly the kind of search the Supreme Court made clear was not allowed under the Fourth Amendment. This means Mueller can only prevail if he didn’t seize a single email of a single individual that the individual could have any expectation of either personal privacy or attorney client privilege in.

The primary excuses proffered so far for the broad seizure is the faulty assumption the use of a government server waived all privacy and all privilege of every email ever made over that server. As identified above, that has never been the law…

These are legitimate issues, yet the media, as usual, is soft-peddling them and spinning them as mere Trump obstruction. Worse, however are the multiple Democrats, including a Senator on CNN yesterday, who I have heard repeat a version of the despicable statement that recently earned New York Times editors a collective Ethics Dunce: “If he’s innocent, he has nothing to worry about.”

Please, please reassure me that we don’t have a major political party that is circulating that motto of despots, grant inquisitors, dictators and the Salem witch trial judges as a talking point. Please!

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Ethics Dunce: Texas Elector Christopher Suprun [UPDATED]

Shut up, Chris; shut up, Alexander.

Oh, shut up, Chris; you too,, Alexander.

Another faithless Texas elector has announced himself. This time, it’s Christopher Suprun, the latest previously anonymous figure to exploit the 2016 Presidential candidacy of Donald Trump for 15 minutes of fame. Let’s see: there was Trump’s former lawyer, who breached or nicked several legal ethics duties to get a column in the Huffington Post, Trump’s ghostwriter, and all of the women who never saw fit to complain of being sexually assaulted by the President Elect until their accusations could do maximum harm and spark maximum exposure. Now we have Suprun, who penned a self-righteous op-ed for the New York Times explaining why he feels he is entitled, all by himself, to ignore the will of the people and cast his vote as elector for someone other than the candidate Texas insisted he pledge to vote for: the winner of the most votes by participating Texas citizens in the November 12 election.

The measure of Suprun’s gravitas and qualifications to take this responsibility on himself is aptly illustrated by the first of his justifications for his untenable position: “Mr. Trump goes out of his way to attack the cast of “Saturday Night Live” for bias.” Naturally, he appeals to the authority of Alexander Hamilton, whose various employments in the post-election train wreck has convinced me that he, not Old Hickory, really should move off the currency and make way for someone with the right number of chromosomes. If I hear one more quote from Federalist Paper 68—which no one is 100% certain that Hamilton even wrote—I may strip off my clothes and run screaming Norse epithets into the night. Assuming, as most do, that the author was Hamilton, so what? The paper was written after the Constitutional Convention. Hamilton’s concept for that document and the structure of the government was rejected. He didn’t trust the public, or democracy, wanted George Washington to be king, and championed a system the resembled Great Britain’s. Using him to justify a concept of the Electoral College that has never been employed or accepted in the United States is a classic logical fallacy. Continue reading