Report: White House Investigating Mueller

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_cropped440px-Director_Robert_S._Mueller-_III-1The media is reporting that President Donald Trump’s legal team is investigating possible conflicts of interest  by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.  Today I ran a column in USA Today on those conflicts of not just Mueller but Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. I have great respect for Mueller but I believe it was a mistake of Rosenstein to select him given his history with Comey and his reported interview with Trump for Comey’s job.  Nevertheless, as I have stated since this story broke this morning, I am very concerned with any concerted effort to investigate the investigators.  Such an approach is less evidence of a strategy as a spasm.  Clearly, defense counsel has a right — if not an obligation — to raise any known conflicts of interest with the Justice Department.  Yet, such investigations can easily get out of hand and can trip legal wires if aides are too aggressive in investigating the investigators.

 

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Report: Trump Campaign Paying For Trump Jr. Legal Fees — Is There A Potential Conflict?

TP-45-logo_(revised)Today, Chris Wallace (who continues to make a strong case that he is the best interviewer in news today) crossed swords with President Donald Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow on who is paying his fees to represent the President.  Sekulow said that he does not know since he bills the law firm of Marc E. Kasowitz.  The question was legitimate and the answer does not resolve concerns.  It is common to confirm the source of fees to confirm that there is no conflict of interest or other concerns raised by such fee payment. However, there is another report that confirms one source of fees . . . for Donald Trump Jr.

 

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Where The Wild Things Are: Ivanka Trump Loses Bid To Quash Deposition Over Her Alleged Theft Of Shoe Designs

Ivanka Trump is facing a difficult lawsuit over alleged theft of the designs of an Italian shoemaker, Aquazurra Italia, as part of their “Wild Things” line. The company filed a trademark infringement claim against her and her company in June 2016 and a court recently rejected motions filed on Trump’s behalf.  Those motions included a claim that Ivanka Trump’s duties as a high-ranking government official made her participation in the litigation too difficult. The claim was rejected.  Part of the court’s rationale for rejected her arguments are distinctly reminiscent of the litigation over her father’s immigration order.

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Report: Coats and Rogers Told Investigators That Trump Asked Them To Publicly State That There Was No Evidence of Russian Collusion

That did not take long.  Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers met with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to discuss the subjects that they declined to discuss with Congress.  Congress then released the information.  It now appears that congressional briefings from the Special Counsel are proxy press conferences in this increasingly strange process.  As expected, Coats and Rogers admitted that Trump did in fact ask them to tell the public that there was no evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russians.  That was, again, an inappropriate and ill-considered request.  However, the disclosure raises a far more worrisome questions with regard to the role of White House Counsel Donald F. “Don” McGahn II.  The two intelligence chiefs said that they took anticipated the questions over their conversations and asked McGahn if there was an executive privilege assertion. McGahn simply never responded.  That is a highly disturbing account.  Executive privilege is not some tactical toy. It has been defended as a core protection of inherent presidential powers.  No high ranking officials should be sent into a committee without a clear understanding of the status of information or conversations relevant to congressional inquiries.  The non-response was either negligence by the White House Counsel or, more likely and more seriously, a conscious decision to avoid the politically risky decision of either allowing answers or publicly preventing answers.

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Turley To Speak At Inaugural W. Eugene Davis Lecture In Lafayette, Louisiana

The Honorable W. Eugene Davis

Today  I will the great honor of serving as the inaugural speaker at the W. Eugene Davis Lecture in Lafayette, Louisiana.  This event holds a particular personal meaning for me because I clerked for Judge Davis on the Fifth Circuit in the late 1980s.  Serving as his clerk was the single most transformative decision that I have made in my professional life.  The clerkship started a lifelong friendship that I cherish to this day.  Judge Davis is adored by everyone who has worked with him for his unflagging decency, civility, and integrity.  When I think back to my time in his chambers, I realize how much the experience — and Judge Davis — shaped my views of legal ethics, professionalism, and civility.  This lecture is a fitting tribute to a man who served justice for decades as a trial judge and later an appellate judge.  He is the classic and genuine judicial article.  He still relishes the simple task of judging — fairly and honestly.  He has spent his lifetime eschewing ideology in favor of resolving cases in an unbiased and consistent manner.  He is my ideal of what everyone judge should strive to be.  He remains a humble and decent man who seeks to do justice.  That is why this lecture series is such a fitting testament to the legacy of W. Eugene Davis.

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“Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair”: The Trial Of the Weird Sisters To Be Held Tonight

440px-Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_019-1I have the honor of participating this year in the special program benefiting the widely respected Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.   Since 1994, the Mock Trial Series has been held to bring Supreme Court justices and members of the bar to join in a fun night in which Shakespeare figures are tried by leading members of the bar. This year, the three Weird Sisters from Macbeth will be in the dock.   The bench will consist of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Judge David S. Tatel, Judge Sri Srinivasan, and Judge Patricia A. Millett, United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  The court marshal will be  Pamela Talkin, of the Supreme Court of the United States.  As the jurists deliberate the fate of the three sisters, I will take the stage with attorney Abbe Lowell to discuss the recent conviction of Michele Parker for encouraging the suicide of Conrad Roy III.

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Report: NSA Deputy Wrote Memo Detailing Trump’s Effort To Get Agency To Exonerate His Campaign In Russia Investigation

Admiral_Michael_S._Rogers,_USNdonald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedAnother day, another leak.  The Wall Street Journal is reporting that it has seen a memo written by Rick Ledgett, the former deputy director of the NSA, detailing a phone call in which U.S. President Donald Trump NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers to state publicly that there is no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia.  It is the latest high-level official reporting a concerted effort by Trump to dispel allegations of collusion.  While the Special Counsel is reportedly seeking to interview Ledgett, I still remain skeptical of the current facts being used as the basis for an obstruction case.  As I previously discussed, Robert Mueller has hired at least one senior lawyer known for his unsuccessful effort to expand the scope of obstruction.  However, this memo does not necessarily change the narrative on both sides of the controversy.  There remains an obvious defense to a conventional obstruction claim – assuming the definition of the crime is not stretched beyond recognition to change the meaning of “corruptly influence.”

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