Scratch A Lawyer, Find A Foe: Michael Cohen Releases Secret Recording Of Trump Discussing Payment To Alleged Mistress

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedBelow is my column in the Hill newspaper on release of the first Cohen tape and rumored seizure of many more such tapes by federal prosecutors.  I have previously stated that the secret taping of Donald Trump was, in my view, flagrantly dishonest and disloyal in dealings with a client.  While the American Bar Association relaxed the rule against secret taping from being per se unethical, few lawyers would contemplate what Cohen did to his client.  Indeed, New York is a jurisdiction that looks with disfavor on such taping as a routine matter.  Unless done for some clear societal benefit, it is a serious potential unethical act.  Michael Cohen continues to be an embarrassment to the profession in his low level of legal judgment and even lower professional standards of conduct.

Here is the column:

“Scratch a lover, find a foe,” Dorothy Parker once warned about the perils of loves lost. The same is not supposed to be true for lawyers. Even when a relationship ends, we continue to be bound to our clients.

However, former Trump counsel Michael Cohen, who once said he loved the president and would take a bullet for him, is no conventional lawyer. Indeed, he is not much of a lawyer at all, his critics say. The disclosure that Cohen secretly taped Trump and is looking for a deal only confirms that Cohen is now undeniably a foe of the president.

President Trump over the weekend tweeted that it is “inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client” and that it is “totally unheard of” and “perhaps illegal.” The fact is that most people, including most lawyers, are shocked by Cohen’s conduct. However, it is not illegal. New York is a “one party” consent state, allowing secret recordings as long as one party consents. Since Cohen was a party, it would be lawful. There has been a long debate among state bars over the ethics of a lawyer secretly taping a client, an act few lawyers would contemplate.Of course, like so much of Cohen’s actions as counsel, this is all “inconceivable” from a logical or strategic standpoint. Cohen was clearly aware that this was a potential legal and political danger for Trump. Yet, without telling his client, Cohen knowingly created evidence that could be used against Trump, just months before the election. Cohen created the danger of a campaign finance charge with regard to the handling of the scandals involving Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Nevertheless, he secretly taped his client discussing an act that clearly would be material evidence of a crime and seizable by prosecutors under the crime and fraud exception to attorney-client privilege.

I have noted previously that the McDougal controversy is legally worse than the Daniels controversy. McDougal had a longer alleged relationship, and her story was potentially more damaging to the president. McDougal was silenced by Trump’s friend, David Pecker, who bought her story for National Enquirer and then spiked it. What is dumbfounding is that Cohen actually suggested a course that would have made the already terrible political position into a legal nightmare.

It now appears Cohen was informed of the $150,000 deal, widely viewed as a “catch and kill” payment by Pecker to bury the controversy. Cohen reportedly suggested Trump might want to buy rights to the McDougal story to gain even greater control of it. It was vintage Cohen, blissfully advocating the worst possible course for his client. If Trump followed Cohen’s advice and purchased the rights, he would gag a woman with embarrassing information and clearly establish the Pecker payment as a campaign contribution. The last thing any competent lawyer would want is to “bring this in-house,” as reportedly suggested by Cohen.

The FBI predictably seized the tape of the president discussing a payment that could be charged as an in-kind campaign contribution. There is a general five-year statute of limitations for federal election violations. This allows for the prosecution of Trump after the completion of his first term. However, it may depend on whether Cohen is willing to implicate Trump in prior knowledge of the effort to silence McDougal.

The Justice Department previously prosecuted former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards in a very similar case of third parties paying a mistress to keep quiet. While that prosecution ultimately failed, this would be a much stronger case. The timing and communication in the McDougal controversy is simply tighter. The fact is that such criminal cases are rarely brought and difficult to prove, but Cohen did his very best to, again, put his client in the worse possible legal position.

In the end, the president has good defenses unless Cohen flips, though those defenses are stronger with Daniels than McDougal overall. As a married man implicated in an affair, Trump had a nonpolitical motivation to silence both women. The problem is that McDougal was done through a third party who does not appear to have received any real value from the payment other than silencing McDougal.

Based on these facts, prosecutors could secure a campaign finance violation indictment. Pecker and his company are also exposed. A news and press exception exists to campaign finance laws but Pecker’s company, American Media Inc., would have had to be working in a traditional journalistic sense. While the key may be its level of coordination with Cohen or the Trump campaign, the company likely faces a challenge to argue that this was a traditional journalistic function. Cohen’s suggestion that Trump buy McDougal’s story only reaffirms the view that this was a political, not a journalistic, enterprise.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has insisted, “In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence.” It is certainly true that the lack of prior knowledge by Trump would be an important defense for him personally. However, you need to take this scandal up to 40,000 feet to get that favorable “big picture.” The tape would contrast with repeated denials by Trump aides and associates that he had knowledge. It was Trump’s lawyer who discussed the contract before it was made with Pecker’s company. Finally, not knowing about the specific contract does not necessarily mean a lack of prior knowledge of the effort to silence McDougal.

Cohen has done everything short of going to Tinder to try to hook up with Robert Mueller. He has stripped away any references to Trump from his social media and posted biting comments like a despondent teen. It is a quite a change from a man who, among an impressive array of Trump sycophants, stood out for his proclamations of love and loyalty. Cohen once said, “I protect Mr. Trump. If there’s an issue that relates to Mr. Trump, that is of concern to him, it’s of course of concern to me, and I will use my legal skills to protect Mr. Trump to the best of my ability.” It appears now that Cohen’s loyalties are as dubious as his legal skills.

However, the one thing that always is “conceivable” is that Cohen would flip. Cohen was not selected for his legal skills. He was willing to do things most lawyers would not do. And he continues to do so.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

125 thoughts on “Scratch A Lawyer, Find A Foe: Michael Cohen Releases Secret Recording Of Trump Discussing Payment To Alleged Mistress”

  1. Let’s see here, we have Trump and Giuliani denying Trump knew anything about payoffs to various women, only to have Cohen produce a tape proving this is a lie, and Jon Turley’s main concern is that Cohen taped Trump. Yeah, he’s the bad guy here, not the habitually lying constantly philandering misogynist who bribes women to keep quiet about his nocturnal adventures, so he can be sold to Evangelicals as a worthy politician. Turley goes on and on about what a terrible lawyer Cohen is, but maybe Cohen isn’t as dumb as he thinks. If he really knows Trump, then he knows he’s dealing with a malignant narcissist who’d throw his own mother under the bus to get attention or to get out of a jam. I don’t represent people like this, but I do have friends who do criminal law. They have to endlessly protect themselves against their own clients. They have to document everything, make the client sign off on everything to prove what advice they were given, to prove they were told about the strength of the evidence against them and the maximum possible sentence if convicted, and generally take extra steps to watch their own back constantly. When the client ignores advice and doesn’t take a plea deal and then gets a bigger sentence, the client goes after the lawyer for “ineffective assistance of counsel”, so the lawyer gets drug into court to defend himself and prove it was the client’s poor judgment that resulted in rejection of the plea deal, and that the client knew the risks of rejecting the deal. The lawyer doesn’t get paid for the time spent defending himself, of course. When you go to bed with dogs, don’t complain if you get fleas.

    Turley says: ” Cohen created the danger of a campaign finance charge with regard to the handling of the scandals involving Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Nevertheless, he secretly taped his client discussing an act that clearly would be material evidence of a crime and seizable by prosecutors under the crime and fraud exception to attorney-client privilege.” If Cohen is the idiot Turley says he is, paying off women wasn’t his idea. The issue isn’t the “handling” of the scandals, it’s the scandals themselves. Does anyone think the payoffs were Cohen’s idea? Without the tapes, that was the story Giuliani and Trump were going for, but it backfired, so out come the Trump attack dogs, and I count Turley among them. Again, this is a problem Trump created for himself. The real danger here is that the American people are becoming shock-proof to the endless scandals and lying of Trump. That is dangerous, indeed.

      1. NY has a one party consent law.regarding taping. Cohen had the right to tape.

            1. so far the fact he worked with Cohen is the things that reflects really badly on him. then again if you do a lot of business in NYC you probably have to work with a lot of sleaze balls like cohen

              1. Mr. Kurtz, I don’t think Fishwings knows anything about professional ethics and the rationale behind them. He’s lost in this type of discussion.

              2. “if you do a lot of business in NYC you probably have to work with a lot of sleaze balls like cohen”

                I think you may be correct since if I remember the numbers correctly 48 out of 51 NYC Councilmen are Democrats.

                Right now they are trying to hamstring Uber and other app companies that compete with the Yellow Cabs. A bunch of rich guys own the medallions that poor folk work under while earning lousy pay. The Democratic leaders have been paid off one way or another. The city is now fantastic for less expensive rides and ride sharing but the Democrats don’t seem to be getting enough under the table perks for this so they are trying to destroy or impair the app drivers.

    1. Natacha – in this case, we have Cohen and Trump discussing buying the story from the Enquirer, not a payoff to the Playmate. She had already whored her story out to them.

  2. It’s no longer “if” trump will indicted, but “when.”

    In Mueller I trust.

  3. Don’t care. Trump is all for mass surveillance. He just doesn’t like when that is applied to him.

    Since Trump feels it’s o.k. for others, it’s o.k. for Trump. All of these people are unethical and it’s no surprise that they will turn on each other.

      1. “It’s a circus.”

        If only it were relatively harmless. So better to go with cesspool — though it looks like a circus,at times.

    1. “Don’t care. Trump is all for mass surveillance. He just doesn’t like when that is applied to him.”

      Can you show us where Trump demonstrates that he is “all for mass surveillance”? If you can’t then perhaps you are wrong. If you can I am interested.

  4. It’s always a disappointing day when I click on Turleys site and the topics are about Trump, Russian or Porn star. Do you lawyers really find this stuff interesting? It’s just all so boring to me.

      1. New rules, ‘I don’t care’. ‘I care about my job, my family…’ ‘you phonies have been a fraud forever…’

        The left has no policy. All they do is try and tear down Trump even if all he is trying to do is denuclearize North Korea. They are anti-American and trying to destroy the nation so they can create their fictional paradise. In the twentieth century Stalin, Mao and a few others tried to do the same thing killing over 100 million people (outside of war). What did they get? Death and destruction. That is the nature of the left.

        Thanks for the video Mespo.

        1. 𝘐𝘵’𝘴 𝘢 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦-𝘵𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘗𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘧𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘫𝘶𝘥𝘨𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘥𝘰 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘥𝘰 𝘪𝘵. 𝘓𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘯 𝘪𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘤𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘤 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘭 𝘞𝘢𝘳 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘴𝘶𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘢𝘣𝘦𝘢𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘱𝘶𝘴. 𝘍𝘋𝘙 𝘪𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘻𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘕𝘦𝘸 𝘋𝘦𝘢𝘭 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘱 𝘢𝘨𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘵 𝘧𝘢𝘴𝘤𝘪𝘴𝘮 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘵-𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘯. 𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘰𝘭’ 𝘶𝘯𝘱𝘰𝘱𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘳 ‘𝘞” 𝘩𝘪𝘮𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘦𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘢 𝘱𝘰𝘱𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘢𝘪𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘴𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘦𝘧𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘣𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘮 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘥𝘭𝘺 𝘢 𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘶𝘣𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘥𝘴 𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘰𝘺𝘦𝘥. 𝘞𝘩𝘺 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘤 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘵𝘸𝘰 𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘣𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘥𝘪𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵? 𝘎𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘶𝘴 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘣𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘞𝘢𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘵𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘵𝘺 𝘪𝘵 𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘴 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘰𝘱𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦.
          ~ The Bohner Manifesto, etc. 7/6/2014

          I wrote this on this blog four years ago in defense — if you believe it — of Obama who was also obstructed by a do-nothing opposition. The words are as true now as then. We don’t care about your ideology, your background, who you sleep or slept with, we care about what you do to help the nation.
          Nothing more, nothing less.

          1. Your words are true. Unfortunately, our politicians are working for themselves and could almost be considered a cabal unto themselves no matter which party they belong to.

            Trump is an outsider so he is being hit by almost all the insiders including almost all of the bureaucracy.

            Obama caused a greater harm to the nation than most people recognize.

      2. Just got a chance to watch the video. Thanks. It helped me reply to Natacha already!

        1. You need help from the NRA to defend Trump? Don’t you realize how this looks?

            1. They just carry those “pictures of Chairman Mao” in their wallets with Mao pictured on Chinese currency.
              “They” are ‘ “making it” as a major global economic power, with the cult of Mao and Mao-worship still largely intact.

  5. Jon Turley – sometimes you act like MSNBC and CNN. You just posted about this on July 24 now you go right back and pull this story off the shelf and try to hype it again. Billionaire prez hooked up with good looking playboy model. We get it and we don’t care. Jon – you are getting sloppy and putting less effort into your blog over time. Perhaps you have been seeing some good eyeball numbers and that has gone to your head and you are getting complacent.

  6. Dirt from the special counsel, the justice system and the lawyer that was supposed to represent his client. Dirt is not a crime and cleans off well with a little soap and water. Unfortunately, this dirt will stain the legal profession and the DOJ forever.

    I voted for Trump and would vote for him again tomorrow. All of this dirt was recognized and expected when I cast my ballot. We are used to the personal flaws seen in the men that have led this nation. It is only those that sneak around at the dead of night that suddenly find these occurrences new and unsightly. They are the worst of hypocrites.

    1. So you admit that you knew Trump was shady and a con-man and you voted for him anyhow? Personal flaws is putting it mildly.

      1. Fishwings, personal flaws are something we all have.

        Stupidity is one and that is seen in a lot of leftists on this blog. Trump is not stupid.

        Personal flaws such as being married more than once is a personal choice like members of the same sex getting married. I don’t believe either of those matters have much of a bearing on the Presidency especially since all people are flawed or consider attributes of other people as flawed.

        Trump is not a con-man or shady. He is quite transparent as you have noted in his tweets and his life.

        Hillary is a crook many times over and her husband a rapist. Those are not personal choices for those choices impact the lives of others.

        Trump in every category was a better choice than Hillary and that is why I voted for Trump. As time has passed and I have seen the economy improve along with superb policy choices despite the illegalities of those in the deep state I now feel I should have been more supportive of him than I was.

        You can stand with Obama who acted poorly both domestically and internationally even though I agreed with some of his general viewpoints. He was a total failure and why he protected Hillary I don’t know. Maybe he was afraid Hillary’s dealings would implicate him in some bad stuff. Who knows? All I know is if he were perfectly honest and had nothing tying him in with her, I in his place would have dropped her as quick as I could. That is what the Democratic Party is trying to do today but the DNC knows that Hillary knows where a lot of bodies lie.

  7. I think Cohen knew what he was dealing with. So, he wisely kept an insurance policy.
    Let’s be frank here, who in their right mind WOULDN’T.

    1. “Let’s be frank here, who in their right mind WOULDN’T.”
      An ethical lawyer interested in promoting his client’s interests instead of his own.

      1. So true. If you have a client that you’re no longer comfortable working with, for whatever reason, then you withdraw from representation. You don’t secretly record him so that you can blackmail him or use the illicit recording as a “get out of jail” card for your own criminal misconduct. I wonder if the N.Y. Bar is going to disbar Cohen….they certainly should.

        1. TIN:
          The NY bars serve the silk stocking legal crowd and they eased the rules against surreptitiously taping your client years ago except in “the interests of society.” Read that as “letting the lawyer do research for his next book.” So no, he’ll likely get away with it and especially since Trump isn’t exactly the Bar’s poster child for a cuckolded client, is he?

          1. yeah all they can do is take the license. lawyers abuse privileges and screw clients a lot and yet the discipline gets meted out on a politically correct basis

        2. i have worked with some very unpleasant clients and I sure in hell would not have recorded them. however they were mostly older crowd. younger folks are used to the surveillance state and can’t talk turkey, welcome to the 21st century and some of it sucks

    2. Cohen is the most despicable human being I’ve read about in recent times. Sleeze wouldn’t even come close to describing this snake.

      1. Birds of a feather…? As the saying goes.

        Lie down with dogs…? Another appropriate one, it would seem.

      2. Oh, I don’t know, Elise. Did Cohen purchase attractive women and then pay them off? Did Cohen brag about grabbing womens’ genitalia? Has Cohen taken multiple bankruptcies? Is he on his third marriage? Does Cohen cheat on his wife endlessly, or is he “despicable” and “sleazy” because he had the sense to protect himself from a chronic, habitual liar?

        1. nobody cares about cohen so there is not quit the level of scrutiny; but I bet he is creepy as the devil, trump was a fool to associate with him. that’s the worst thing I can say about DJT today is that he had this creep for a lawyer reflects badly on him and it big him in the azz

        2. Cohen’s long-term association with Trump was Cohen’s doing.
          He was not forced to ingratiate himself with Trump and become one of Trump’s right-hand man.
          So when you’re asking “what Cohen did”, Natchacha, try to keep that in mind.

  8. Looking around the various news sources I noticed only a few quoted Cohens attorney what’s his name Lanny something or another correctly. Cohen it seems is not going to produce witnesses but personally ‘attest’ to the NY meeting so it’s still two to one. Attest only means ‘take my unsupported word for it.’ That ought to be sufficient for the subjective left who require no facts on anything … and never offer any themselves.

    Clark Gable “Frankly My Dear I don’t give a damn.”

    Scarlet referred to the scarlet woman involved Funny you could neither catch that nor his willingness to personally attest. So next will be the usual ‘we are going to have witnesses, real ones’ followed by a change in the subject. But it’s important to Meuller who at present is left with only Cohen and Tweeter to investigate and still refuses to go after the known participants

    Sorry your intuitive abilities are so….. inconsequential.

    1. Except now it appears Cohen taped his conversations with Trump, which I’m sure prosecutors already have.

      Cohen probably taped conversations about the meeting.

      So they will use those tapes to corroborate witness testimony.

      1. Yay! And then what? I still haven’t seen the actual crime described.

        1. It’s a campaign finance violation, according to Turley.

          Prosecutors can use the tapeS to corroborate Cohen’s testimony.

          Cohen benefits legally by getting leniency in exchange.

          1. Yay! And then what? When does Hillary become president?

            1. No Kamala Harris will win 60% of the female vote and 90% of the minority vote in 2020 and win.

                1. Kamala Harris is candidate best positioned to take advantage of Democratic identity politics. She checks all the right boxes.

                  We’ve had women’s marches and women running for office in greater numbers than ever — all while emphasizing their gender. President Trump’s moves kept identity issues at the forefront, too, and gave Democrats an opportunity both to defend groups they view as disadvantaged and to attack the policies of a president they hate.


                2. 80% of Democrats now believe that immigration strengthen America. Kamala is the one candidate who embodies this value the most since her parents were immigrants from Jamaica and India.

                  She has made increased immigration one of her signature issues.

                  1. Your 80% of Democrats believe that illegal immigration strengthens America?

  9. What’s next, a priest releases info he heard in a confessional? Be careful what you say to anyone, it may become public fodder.

  10. Prof Turley:

    The recording was a logical step for Cohen to take.

    Trump asked on Twitter this week: “What kind of lawyer tapes his client?”

    The answer is a lawyer who is being asked to do something illegal and wants proof it was the client’s idea.

    It is increasingly clear they conspired to violate campaign finance laws.

    If two escorts could blackmail Trump so easily, imagine how much dirt Russian intel could be used to manipulate him.

  11. A lawyer testifying against a former client is problematic in so many ways. Check out Rule 1.6 of the NY Rules of Professional Conduct. What Cohen learned from Trump is confidential. Cohen cannot disclose that except in certain limited circumstances such as to prevent a future crime. It appears that Cohen made an unauthorized disclosure. I doubt he is long for the legal profession.

    1. He was never really a lawyer for Trump. The investigation into Cohen has found less than 1% of his materials constitute actual privileged legal work.

      His work was to set up under the table deals for Trump.

      He recorded his conversations so he would have proof the schemes were not his idea alone.

      1. If he was working to set up deals in order to limit Trump’s legal liabilities or if Trump was relying on his legal training or if he was holding himself out as giving legal advice, he was working as a lawyer for Trump. His surreptitious recording of client’s communication, shocking though it might be, pales in comparison with his disclosure of privileged communications to the government which in turn pales in comparison with the thought of his testifying against his former client and using confidential communications in the process. Regardless of the reasons for his actions, the NY Bar should be on his butt. Hard.

        1. Oh, don’t worry about that. Cohen is already under criminal investigation for his conduct from the federal and state government.

          That is how these tapes came to light in the first place.

          But if he was engaging in criminal conspiracies with Trump, that does not constitute legitimate legal work, so it is proper for it to be leaked.

          He recorded their conversations because it is likely he knew Trump asked him to do something illegal and wanted proof in case he was caught.

          1. If it were an active conspiracy, you might be right about that. If Trump was asking Cohen to do something illegal, you may also be right. But, if Trump was merely asking for legal advice on how to handle the situation and what steps he (with or without the assistance of Cohen) could take to remedy the problem or even if Trump were discussing a past crime, there would be no illegality in the conversation and it would be privileged.

            Also, I don’t see how taping the conversation would protect Cohen from criminal charges. To the contrary, it would provide proof. I am also having trouble understanding what crime Trump could have been discussing with Cohen. Unless campaign funds were used a la John Edwards, it ain’t illegal to buy a story and spike it. It is also not illegal to pay someone to keep their mouth shut about an affair.

            1. Taping would protect Cohen because it would prevent him from being the fall guy in the conspiracy. As Turley states, it is likely the payment violated campaign finance law because it was designed to help his campaign from an embarrassment but wasn’t reported to the government.

              Without the tape, the campaign violation could have been blamed solely on Cohen. If he was taking orders from Trump it will help him strike a deal for leniency.

              1. There are no fall guys in a conspiracy. Each conspirator is responsible for the acts of co-conspirators. When one falls, they all fall. The only issue is how hard they fall. If, as you suggest, Cohen was assuring himself a soft fall by taping the conversation, he certainly had a conflict-of-interest with his client and should have immediately either declined representation or terminated it. He cannot ethically represent a client and, simultaneously, gather evidence against that client for use by the prosecution.

                However, if that was Cohen’s intent, he shot himself in the foot. By accepting the call, Cohen implicated himself in whatever conspiracy may or may not have occurred. Taping only proves the conspiracy, assuming a conspiracy existed. Absent the tape, Cohen does not need to assure a soft fall.

                Also, if assuring a soft fall was Cohen’s intent, his taping harmed that prospect because taping only evidenced his guilty mind. Taping precludes Cohen from claiming that he had no idea what was going on. Why tape an innocent conversation? Then, too, if Cohen thought that Trump was doing something illegal and was worried about being caught up in it, he would have hung up the phone. Taking the call and recording it only adds proof to whatever wrongdoing was done.

                If Cohen was taping merely to cut a deal with the government but did not immediately reveal the tape to the government, then he disclosed confidential information of his client’s. There is a lot of “ifs” her, but whatever Cohen’s reasons for taping, he has some ethical questions to answer. I would not retain Mr. Cohen for any long term legal representation.

                1. Sure, he could have been the fall guy for the campaign finance violation. If Trump blamed the payment on Cohen and said it was his idea alone, then Cohen would have been the only one punished for it.

                  But now we know he has tapes, and he can give up the tapes and his testimony as a part of plea bargain.

                  There is no question he is in legal trouble but his cooperation will probably help mitigate his punishment.

                  1. So, what you are saying is that Trump may have asked Cohen to do something that would violate campaign finance laws. Cohen, worried that Trump would say that the scheme was Cohen’s and Cohen’s alone, taped the conversation. That may have been Cohen’s motivation, but that would not exonerate Cohen from ethical charges from the bar. Also, while I don’t claim to be an expert on election law, I am not sure that a private citizen, acting alone without input from a campaign, would be guilty to violating campaign financing laws by buying and spiking a story. So, if Cohen was acting alone, he would not be violating the law. If that were true, there would be no need for him to record his attorney/client conversations.

  12. The bottom line is that Trump had sex with a woman who was somehow being paid for sex. Big deal. Do I hear Democrats complaining about JFK and Marilyn. Some of you out there on the blog may not know who those two people were or when they had rolls in the hay in the White House. Some of you do not know about President Washington and his Redskin. No big deal. But what we all need to think about is that many Americans do not give a damn that John F. Kennedy porked Marilyn Monroe or that Donald Trump had sex with Stormy this or that. Many men out there on the blog would probably like to have a roll in the hay with Stormy. Or whatever her real name is.
    So when Trump comes up for election again vote for him if you think a roll in the hay with Stormy was not a bad way.

    We are in a bad way. It is not because of the likes of Stormy or because some male likes Stormy. Buy things Made In America. Go to school on time. Walk your dog. Don’t go to war in Vietnam.

    1. It is problematic because it shows the president is vulnerable to blackmail.

      When two escorts can blackmail the president so easily, it would be simple for hostile intelligence agencies to compromise him.

      1. Marry – the President was in two consensual legal alleged sexual relationships. In the latest one, the woman seems to have sold her story to the Enquirer. Trump seems to be buying the story from them. It is legal.

      2. Trump should run on a campaign statement: “Pork em if ya gottem.” His wife won’t like it but the voters will. He will win Michigan again.

      3. What you refuse to understand is that Trump is NOT vulnerable to blackmail. HE DOESN’T CARE! THE VOTERS DON’T CARE!! We didn’t vote for him to lead the Sunday School class. All of his character deficiencies are already fully baked into the voters’ opinions of him.

        Why can’t you get that????

        1. See, this is the reason the lame stream media and most Democrats have no effect on President Trump: when all they do is complain, lie and go against him no matter what he does it is rather self-evident that he doesn’t care one bit about what they want.

          Despite if the president does something these malcontents previously clamored for, they find any reason to be outraged against him. So why should the president bother listening to them? It’s pointless and a waste of time.

          No matter what he does, they will be pissed off. Probably in his mind, he will do what he thinks is best and occasionally have a good laugh prodding them slightly and watch his opponents have a meltdown.

    2. We don’t like Trump because: 1. He’s one of the worst, chronic liars in history, which makes him untrustworthy and a poor role model; 2. He is a racist; 3. He is a misogynist; 4. He is a xenophobe, and fans the flames of xenophobia and racism; 5. He lacks a basic understanding of how American government works; 6. He has serious emotional problems–narcissism that can be exploited by America’s enemies; 7. He is blatantly in the pocket of a Russian dictator who murders his opponents; 8. He has damaged U.S. relations with our allies; 9. He mocks disabled people; 10. Despite receiving 5 deferments on the pathetic basis of “heel spurs”, easily corrected, he has the gall to criticize John McCain, a living war hero and POW, because McCain wouldn’t pledge fealty to him. In short, he’s not fit to be POTUS.

      We really don’t care if he cheats on his trophy wife, or whether he has illicit relationships. His lying about the extramarital affairs and paying them off so Evangelicals would vote for him is the issue. He’d do anything to win. Anything. Cohen probably has tapes proving that Trump knew about the meeting with the Russians. That’s why the Trump attack dogs are on the offensive.

      1. 1. He’s one of the worst, chronic liars in history, which makes him untrustworthy and a poor role model; Then don’t use him as your role model 2. He is a racist; No, he isn’t3. He is a misogynist; No, he isn’t 4. He is a xenophobe No, he isn’t, and fans the flames of xenophobia and racism; No, he doesn’t5. He lacks a basic understanding of how American government works; He understands it perfectly well 6. He has serious emotional problems–narcissism that can be exploited by America’s enemies; no more narcissist than most politicians, especially the last WH resident7. He is blatantly in the pocket of a Russian dictator who murders his opponents statement with no proof whatsoever – if “blatantly”, present some proof; 8. He has damaged U.S. relations with our allies; *sigh* No he hasn’t. You just don’t understand how they work 9. He mocks disabled people that’s a lie, but you be you; 10. Despite receiving 5 deferments on the pathetic basis of “heel spurs”, easily corrected, he has the gall to criticize John McCain, a living war hero and POW, because McCain wouldn’t pledge fealty to him.McCain is a globalist New World Order a**, and Trump knows it. In short, he’s not fit to be POTUS. Then try to elect someone else in 2020, Honey.

      2. I don’t know what a POTUS is. I guess its like a Podunk. Many of us who voted for Hillary will vote for Trumpster next time arround We were wrong.

        1. Would Trump even want or have any desire to have sex with Monica Lewinski? Probably not. She does not measure up looks wise. Dems want us to forget about Clinton and his odd ways.

  13. This is hilarious. Turley must really want Trump to appoint him to a judgeship. Why else focus on Cohen as the primary bad guy for making the recordings when you have the President of the US on the recordings engaging in actions that are ostensible violations of US law.

    These two deserve each other. Maybe they will get to be roomies at Club Fed if they are both convicted of crimes.

    And of course the Trump cultists don’t care about the contents of the tape. But it’s hard to blame this one on Hillary or Obama.

    1. “Turley must really want Trump to appoint him to a judgeship.” -Don de Drain

      It’s exactly what he wants, IMHO.

      1. Once upon a time…

        “Judge Garzón is a personal hero for his pursuit of justice for the victims of Pinochet. He is coming at a time when civil libertarians in this country are in deep need for moral support. We have a president who has blocked torture prosecutions by Bush officials, continued military tribunals, and expanded on a host of controversial Bush policies in the national security area.”

        Will the real Jonathan Turley, pleaste stand up.

  14. Lawyers are on a par with used car salesmen. Unfortunately, they are essential if a citizen is trying to stay out of jail. But many cannot afford them…as we all know. A two-tiered justice system. But that’s another subject…..

  15. Cohen secretly taped his phone call with CNN. Now that is hysterical. 😉

  16. It seems that Trump made a huge mistake by not reassuring Cohen of his loyalty. Trump began distancing himself from Cohen, and the latter got nervous about taking a fall for Trump in hopes that he might be pardoned. I don’t blame him for that. Trump was talking about pardoning Blagoyavich, giving him and his family false hopes, and then never followed through. Does he think Cohen didn’t notice that? Trump may have to learn the hard way that loyalty must be given if it is to be received.

    1. Oh complications! It now seems Rudy is leaking all this supposed Cohen stuff. Apparently, he figures Mueller has this info based on the searches of the hotel, office and home. The idea is to pull the teeth now before Cohen gets out his tale. But once you get past broken windows and 9/11, Rudy is a little out of his depth.
      Guess what, Cohen–if he’s willing–can still testify about this before one or more grand juries. And Rudy’s leaks don’t stop that. Rudy needs Depends, but he’s fresh out.

      1. Trump should get a real lawyer, there’s no question about that. Rudy is a grandstanding politician. He hasn’t practiced law in at least 25 years.

          1. “Esteemed lawyers won’t take Trump as a client. Well, it’s fitting, I suppose, that a client as bad as Trump gets a lawyer as bad as Giuliani.” – Jennifer Rubin


            “Demanding that the Justice Department shield the president’s allies from prosecution or use its power to go after Hillary Clinton, as Giuliani personally urged during the campaign, is an outrageous violation of the rule of law. “Giuliani is making clear that what the president has asked for all along — for someone at the department to step in and quash a lawfully predicated investigation — is now a central part of their strategy,” says former Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller. “These are the same demands to obstruct justice that the president has been making in public and private for over a year, and now he’s found an attorney who will add a thin veneer of legality to it. But it is nothing more than corruption out in the open.”

            “Giuliani is Trump’s cartoon version of what a lawyer does. Playing Roy Cohn on TV is one thing; engaging in this conduct when you serve as the president’s lawyer is quite another. It might be delightful for prosecutors and Michael Avenatti to watch Giuliani mess up this badly, but the president really should have better legal help. Oh, but wait. Esteemed lawyers won’t take Trump as a client. Well, it’s fitting, I suppose, that a client as bad as Trump gets a lawyer as bad as Giuliani.”

      2. you guys must not be aware of his tenure as a prosecutor including white collar crimes

  17. For this particular whatever… I will use a famous quote. “Frankly
    Scarlet, I don’t give a damn.”

    If ethics were important why do we have politicians?

    Certainly Marxine Waters preaching from the pulpit of a church while being a big wheel deal in a political organization that is as anti-religion as one can get is far far more heinious and unacceptable, same with Pelosi playing the church card while she helps Schumer back stab the DACA group. That entire episode is worthy of being laughed out off the stage or a gong hook used

  18. Turley holds the attorney responsible for the actions of the client. Cohen is perhaps a poor attorney, morally deficient and not very bright. His client, who performed all the acts he now wants to be covered up, is merely despicable.

    1. “Turley holds the attorney responsible for the actions of the client.”

      Enigma, I don’t understand how Turley holds the attorney responsible. Can you explain? Are you talking about the professional rules of conduct that lawyers are supposed to live up to?

      1. The entire post is a criticism of how Cohen handled things (not that he doesn’t deserve criticism) with not a whit of criticism for the man who had the affair and was paying the woman off. If he want’s to condemn Cohen’s ethics and behavior that’s fine, but it seems worth at least mentioning the bad behavior that created the situation in the first place.

        I wonder which will come first; Trump criticizing Putin or Turley criticizing Trump? Both seem incapable.

        1. Enigma, Turley is holding the attorney responsible for his own actions as you say in your response but the question was how: “Turley holds the attorney responsible for the actions of the client.”?

          1. The two are intermingled. How is it possible to only notice the mishandling of the affair and forget to mention the acts that set everything into motion. His criticism’s of Cohen may be fair, his failure to address Trump’s role is willfully negligent.

            1. Enigma you are starting to back peddle again.

              The question is how: “Turley holds the attorney responsible for the actions of the client.”?

              Don’t change the question.

              1. I’m sorry you don’t understand my answer. The problem isn’t only a bad lawyer, it’s also a bad client which Turley completely overlooks. He can see the mote in Cohen’s eye but not the plank in Trump’s.

                1. Enigma, your answer is not responsive to the question. Lawyers frequently have to work with bad clients as do doctors and accountants.

                  In this case, we are talking about neither rather we are talking about a third party that is not personally involved. The question is how: “Turley holds the attorney responsible for the actions of the client.”?

                  1. I’m going to paraphrase something Mespo once told me and I found no fault with it. My answer is mine to give, that it doesn’t satisfy you isn’t really my problem.

                    1. Great statement by Mespo. It is your underlying psychological problem, an inability to stick to the truth, that is found to be unsatisfactory.

                      In any event, you didn’t answer the question so I’ll repeat it again.

                      The question is how: “Turley holds the attorney responsible for the actions of the client.”?

                    2. Enigma, this is a chat list where various people place their own opinions and others comment. There is no stalking because as soon as you cease commenting there is nothing to reply to. In your case, your words are your problem, not anyone else’s.

  19. A little too much holier than thou, professor. If you were representing Trump or making a deal with him, you know you would either be taping him at all times or having a credible witness taking notes at all times in the room. C’mon. Water seeks its own level.

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