Category: Criminal law

WSJ: Michael Cohen’s Lawyer Asked Trump Legal Team About Pardon

One of the curious aspects of the public hearing before the House Oversight Committee was the limited interest in past discussions of a pardon by Cohen with Trump or his legal team. Only a passing reference was made in the hearing, but Cohen said unequivocally that “I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump.” The Wall Street Journal has a report that cast some doubt on that sworn statement. It is reporting that Cohen’s lawyer at the time Stephen Ryan not only pressed for a pardon after the FBI raid on Cohen but suggested that, absent a pardon, he might flip. If true, the story could be another instance where the truth of Cohen’s testimony is subject to challenge despite a pledge from the Committee Chair Elijah Cummings that he would push for a perjury prosecution for any false statements. Cohen already has been accused of perjury and there has already been a call for a request for a perjury investigation from GOP members.

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Rosenstein’s Revenge: Trump To Fight 100 Duck-Sized Horses

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on how President Donald Trump may be facing a changing threat as the Special Counsel moves closer to submitting his final report and new allegations of criminal conduct have been raised by Michael Cohen and the Southern District of New York. There are viable criminal allegations raised with regard to Donald Trump’s business practices as well as his payment of hush money to alleged former mistresses. However, some of these claims present their own challenges as criminal theories.

Here is the column:

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Cohen Gives Democrats Roadmap For Collateral Crimes

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the implications of the testimony of Michael Cohen last week. This weekend, House and Senate Democrats publicly claimed to have evidence of obstruction and collusion, though the most important news is that all of the Committees are issuing a storm of subpoenas.

Here is the column:

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Berkeley Police Arrest Attacker Of Conservative Activist

Zachary Greenberg, 28, has been arrested by Berkeley police after the attack on conservative activist Hayden Williams, 26, on UC Berkeley campus while trying to recruit students for a conservative group. While President Donald Trump encouraged Williams to sue Berkeley, the university actually condemned the attack and launched an investigation. For that reason, I cannot understand Trump’s criticism. I have objected to the treatment of conservatives on campuses including Berkeley, but in this instance the university seems to have acted quickly and responsibly. I fail to be the basis for a lawsuit against the university or the President’s attack on the university’s actions.

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Dershowitz Under Fire For Move That Could Partially Close Hearing On Infamous Epstein Case

Media groups are contesting an effort by Alan Dershowitz to close part of the oral arguments before the Second Circuit in the ongoing litigation over the handling of the case of his former client, Jeffrey Epstein (left), who was an alleged sex trafficker for powerful men ranging from Bill Clinton to Dershowitz himself. Dershowitz has denied the allegations of one of Epstein’s alleged victims that she was coerced into having sex with Dershowitz.

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Michael Cohen Disbarred In New York

As someone who has called for the disbarment of Michael Cohen for well over a year, the belated decision by the New York bar this week to disbar the disgraced lawyer is welcomed news. There are few ex-lawyers that you can say this about, but the removal of Cohen from the bar has materially improved the value of everyone’s license across the country.

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The “Plain Vanilla” Rape Defense: Counsel For Former Vatican Treasurer Shocks Court With Claim For Lower Sentence

Occasionally we discuss great and not-so-great defenses in litigation. This would fall under the latter. Robert Richter, the attorney for Cardinal George Pell in his sentencing hearing for sexual assault, shocked many with his assurance to the court that one of the incidents was a “plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating.” It is a a statement that seems tailored to destroy any chance of leniency for your client. On the legal Richter scale, that would be a 9 or more level argument with total destruction.

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Putting The Capital Back Into Capital Murder: Saudi Crown Prince Gathers Fawning Leaders To Prove His Immunity

I have previously expressed my outrage at the position of the Trump Administration in failing to hold Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year. The evidence is overwhelming that the Crown Prince (who has a blood-soaked reign in the Kingdom) ordered the savage murder. Now, the Crown Prince is doing a world tour and assembling fawning leaders to show that he is effectively immune from such quaint notions as murdering journalists. Countries like Pakistan have accepted billions from the Kingdom and are now pandering to the Crown Prince, including giving the accused murderer a gold-plated submachine gun.

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Is Mueller Uncovering Ukrainian Rather Than Russian Collusion?

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on status of the Mueller investigation and what we have learned about Russian collusion. On Friday, Mueller filed what could be his last major filing before the submission of his report to Attorney General Bill Barr. It was the Manafort sentencing report and, once again, it was long on Ukrainian and short on Russian collusion. Indeed, Manafort’s lobbying efforts were designed to help Ukrainian figures on issues stemming from their internal political tensions and investigations. For example, the highly detailed filing discusses how Manafort was given millions to further a “furtive activity in connection with the United States’s consideration of a resolution condemning Ukraine for President Yanukovych’s locking up his political opponent Tymoshenko.” Mueller discusses the focus of Mueller’s work as “lobbying for Ukraine.” While Mueller could still present evidence of Russian collusion, this filing continues a notable trend in the omission of such evidence by key players. If Manafort was an agent for Russia, it would likely have been mentioned in his sentencing report and used as the basis of either a FARA or related charge. Instead, the filing shows Manafort was working for Ukrainian not Russian interests in these criminal enterprises.

Here is the column:

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With the ruling of Judge Kenneth A. Marra of Federal District Court in West Palm Beach on the obscene plea deal with Jeffrey E. Epstein, it is time for Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to resign. Marra found, as many of us have long argued, that the deal cut by Acosta violated federal law and allowed the infamous financier to get a disgracefully low sentence. Many of us objected to his nomination by President Donald Trump and condemned the Senate for confirming him. It is now time for him to resign.


Louisiana Mom Charged Criminally For Sharing Video Of Fight At Son’s School

While we discussed another Louisiana case involving the attempted killing of a llama, there is an equally interesting case out of Lafayette (where I once lived) involving Maegan Adkins-Barras, 32. Adkins-Barras has been charged on an obscure state law for sharing a videotape of a fight at her son’s high school. The case raises some significant constitutional concerns.

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Court Reverses Order To Hold Activist For A Month Until Trial For Exposure Of A Breast

There is a disturbing case in Richmond, Virginia where Michelle Renay Sutherland, 45, was to be held without bond after recreating the scene from the Virginia flag in a demonstration in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. As shown on the flag, Sutherland exposed one breast and was arrested for a misdemeanor of indecent exposure. The arrest itself raises concerns but the greater concern is the fact that Sutherland was to be held for more than a month without a bond on a misdemeanor charge. Richmond Judge Lawrence B. Cann III initially ordered Sutherland to remain in jail without bond but later apologized and granted a bond after public outcry.

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Smollett Charged With Reporting False Hate Crime [Updated]

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. Smollett claimed that white men wearing Trump’s signature MAGA hats jumped out of a car and screamed “This is MAGA country, n****r” and beat him and put a noose around his neck. Various networks and cable stations like CNN ran with the story as a horrific attack and an example of rising hate crimes during the Trump Administration.

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