Category: Lawyering

A Bill Comes Due: Susan Collins Faces Rising Demands To Fulfill Her Promise To Vote Against A Presumed Anti-Roe Nominee

440px-Susan_Collins_official_Senate_photoBelow is my column in The Hill newspaper on the rising pressure on Sen. Susan Collins over her vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  There is considerable anger over Collins maintaining that she would never vote for a nominee hostile to Roe v. Wade but refusing to acknowledge the widespread view of Kavanaugh as not only hostile to the reasoning of Roe but appointed by a president who promised only to nominate an anti-Roe justice.  As with Neil Gorsuch, Collins appears inclined to vote for Kavanaugh despite her oft-repeated pledge.   She insists that she is comfortable after Kavanaugh told her that Roe is “settled” law.  However, many have put Collins’ position as falling somewhere between hopeful thinking and willful blindness.  As discussed below, the unsettling thing about settled law is that only five votes make anything truly settled on the Court.

Adding to the political dimension are polls showing that the hearings did not produce a bump for confirmation.  The latest polling shows 38 percent in favor of Kavanaugh and 39 percent opposed. 

Here is the column: Continue reading “A Bill Comes Due: Susan Collins Faces Rising Demands To Fulfill Her Promise To Vote Against A Presumed Anti-Roe Nominee”

GW To Host Annual Supreme Court Review

Supreme CourtI will have the pleasure of participating in the annual Supreme Court review today previewing the upcoming October term.  The other panelists will be former Solicitor General Gregory Garre, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill.  Associate Dean (and Supreme Court litigator) Alan Morrison will moderate the panel.

Previewing the Supreme Court’s October Term 2018” will be held in the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room, 2000 H St NW, Washington, D.C. at 9:00.m. Continue reading “GW To Host Annual Supreme Court Review”

Defense Counsel Calls Out DOJ For Falsely Accusing His Client Of Trading Sex For Access . . . Court Imposes Gag Order On Counsel

09dc-butina-jumboYesterday, we discussed the prosecution of accused Russian agent Maria Butina and how prosecutors put out clearly false allegations that she traded sex for favors.  Butina’s defense counsel Robert Driscoll called out the government for the clearly baseless allegations spread throughout the media.  U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has now responded by gagging counsel, an order that has become all too common in federal cases. Continue reading “Defense Counsel Calls Out DOJ For Falsely Accusing His Client Of Trading Sex For Access . . . Court Imposes Gag Order On Counsel”

The Notorious RBG and the Problem With The Celebrity Justice

download-2Below is my column in The Hill on the continuing promotionals for “The Notorious RBG.”  I have long been a critic of this trend toward celebrity justices and the discomfort over these campaigns is not simply about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The culture of the Court is changing and I do not believe it is  changing for the better.

Here is the column:
Continue reading “The Notorious RBG and the Problem With The Celebrity Justice”

Texas Spends $7 Million Fighting Demand To Add Air Conditioning To Dangerously Hot Prison . . . Then Installs The System For $4 Million

PrisonCellTexas recently settled a legal fight over its failure to install air conditioning at the Wallace Pack Unit near College Station — a facility long deemed dangerously hot in the summer. In the wisdom only known to bureaucrats, the state spent $7 million to fight the lawsuit and ultimately paid $4 million to simply put in the air conditioning system. Continue reading “Texas Spends $7 Million Fighting Demand To Add Air Conditioning To Dangerously Hot Prison . . . Then Installs The System For $4 Million”

Source: FBI Given Evidence Accusing Mueller Witness Of Alleged “Blackmail” Following His Cooperation Agreement With The Special Counsel

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 10.25.53 AM.pngThis weekend I discussed a surprising, and unreported, allegation made on CNN by former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili against the latest cooperating witness of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, former Republican lobbyist and Paul Manafort associate, Sam Patten.  Saakashvili preceded me on CNN and accused Patten of threatening to ruin him if he went public with allegations about Patten’s work with Russian interests in Georgia.  Since Saakashvili could easily be called as a rebuttal witness to Patten, the threats could be viewed as witness tampering.  Saakashvili viewed them as outright Russian-style blackmail.  Since I ran that column, I have heard from a great number of people on both sides, but I received an email this morning from Christina Pushaw, who identifies herself as Saakashvili’s representative.  Pushaw sent the underlying material supporting Saakashvili’s charges and confirmed that they have given the allegation and evidence to the FBI today.  The complaint to the FBI only magnifies the problems for both Patten and Mueller that I discussed earlier. A submission to the FBI, including a criminal allegation, comes with added penalties for false statements or submissions.  Both sides in this dispute have been the subject of serious criminal allegations in Europe.  Yet, such communications (if true) from a cooperating witness would unlikely be approved by prosecutors. Mueller’s team is about to present its prosecution of Paul Manafort for witnessing tampering for contacting potential witnesses to shape their accounts.  That creates a rather awkward situation when its most recent cooperative witness is allegedly the subject of a complaint to the FBI.

Continue reading “Source: FBI Given Evidence Accusing Mueller Witness Of Alleged “Blackmail” Following His Cooperation Agreement With The Special Counsel”

In Search Of The “Happier Prospect”: Trump Moves Toward The Removal Of McGahn and Sessions

160px-Official_Portrait_of_President_Donald_Trump_(cropped)Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the departure of White House Counsel Don McGahn.  Trump is now strongly suggesting that he may allow Attorney General Jeff Sessions to remain but only until after the approaching November elections.  At that point, the situation could change rapidly and dangerously with a divided Congress.  With the expected departure of both McGahn and Sessions, the next chapter appears a paraphrase of Dick the Butcher in Henry VI ”The first thing we dolet’s kill fire all the lawyers.”  Obviously, much will depend on their replacements but Sessions’ removal (and the reason for the removal) is far more problematic. Continue reading “In Search Of The “Happier Prospect”: Trump Moves Toward The Removal Of McGahn and Sessions”

Lanny Davis And The Year Of Lawyers Living Dangerously

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the recent admission by Michael Cohen’s lawyer that he was the source on what appears a false story on the meeting at Trump Tower with Russians and Trump officials.  Davis also admitted that he lied to the media in denying that he was the source of the story.  It may be too early to predict the demise of Davis. We discussed earlier the controversy surrounding former CNN commentator and DNC official Donna Brazile lied to the public about being the author of hacked emails giving Hillary Clinton debate questions in advance. She is back as a commentator on various networks.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Lanny Davis And The Year Of Lawyers Living Dangerously”

Wall Street Journal Reports Manafort Sought Deal With Mueller

ManafortThe Wall Street Journal is reporting that Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort sought a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller while the jury was deliberating in Virginia.  The report indicates that Manafort understood the likelihood of conviction and also could be willing to follow other Trump insiders with a deal.  Why such a deal broke down is an intriguing question.

Continue reading “Wall Street Journal Reports Manafort Sought Deal With Mueller”

The Great American Witness Auction: How Michael Cohen And Others Are Making Millions In A Testimony Market

Microcosm_of_London_Plate_006_-_Auction_Room,_Christie's_(colour)Below is my column in The Hill on the curious role that Gofundme is playing in the ongoing controversies surrounding the Trump Administration.  There is an emerging type of market for witnesses on both sides where they compete for donors based on their potential value attacking or defending President Donald Trump.

Here is the column: Continue reading “The Great American Witness Auction: How Michael Cohen And Others Are Making Millions In A Testimony Market”

Michael Cohen’s New Role As The “Liberated” Liar “Speaking Truth To Power”

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on Michael Cohen’s emergence as a witness against President Donald Trump. The man who declared that he would take a bullet for the President just took a plea. In the meantime, Trump friend David Pecker has been given immunity and reportedly implicated Trump in knowing about the hush money payments before they were made.  In what could well be the worst development, Allen  Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity.  Weisselberg is referred in the tapes Cohen secretly recorded with Trump and could offer highly damaging and detailed evidence of any criminal conduct.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Michael Cohen’s New Role As The “Liberated” Liar “Speaking Truth To Power””

One Voice Louder Than Others: Manafort’s Diminishing Options

ManafortBelow is my column in USA Today on the increasingly dire situation for Paul Manafort who is looking at roughly a decade of potential jail time after the convictions in Alexandria — and substantially more jail time if convicted in the upcoming trial in Washington, D.C.  In the meantime, yesterday, White House said that no decision has been made yet on a possible pardon for Manafort.

Manafort once said, while he listens to everyone, Trump’s voice was louder than others. That voice must be uncomfortably quiet in the aftermath of the verdict.

Here is the column: Continue reading “One Voice Louder Than Others: Manafort’s Diminishing Options”

Manafort Heads To D.C. With Eight Felonies . . . And An Increasingly Desperate Pardon Strategy

ManafortBelow is my column in The Hill newspaper on the implications of the conviction of Paul Manafort in Alexandria Virginia.  Notably, if President Donald Trump is inclined to pardon Manafort, he may want to do it before the approaching start of the D.C. trial.  The counts in the new trial are a true parade of horribles for Manafort and his image will hardly improve by the end. He will face details over his work for a blood-soaked authoritarian figure who fled into exile to Moscow.  It will be much more difficult to portray Manafort as a victim and a “good man” after that evidence is aired in open court.

I previously warned that Manafort’s obvious hung jury strategy was likely to fail.  He is now left with only his pardon strategy, though his lawyer ominously warned that he is considering “all of his options.”

Continue reading “Manafort Heads To D.C. With Eight Felonies . . . And An Increasingly Desperate Pardon Strategy”

Michael Cohen, The Ultimate Red Shirt Defendant Takes A Plea

images-1.jpgThe appearance of Michael Cohen in court as a self-confessed felon was as riveting as predictable as scene in this unfolding drama. Indeed, if this is ever made into a movie, it would seem all too formulaic. Cohen is the ultimate red-shirt defendant. In the film industry, “red shirts” are characters in a movie plot that inevitably die (like those red shirted security officers in Star Trek that always seem to face demise by the end of an episode). You can often spot a red shirt in that character who is so over-the-top in reading letters from home or over compensating in the face of a pending battles. They are dead men walking.  If you play back the last year, there is one guy who stands out in the red shirt, the guy who has to implode and flip. It is Michael Cohen. Continue reading “Michael Cohen, The Ultimate Red Shirt Defendant Takes A Plea”

Giuliani: “Truth Isn’t Truth”

225px-rudy_giulianiIn a interview painfully reminiscent of the “alternative facts” statement of Kelly Anne Conway, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani triggered another firestorm by declaring on NBC’s Meet the Press that “truth isn’t truth.”  I actually can see what Conway was trying to say with her “alternative facts” comment, but the Giuliani comment left me mystified why a lawyer would frame such an argument. He was understandably trying to convey that prosecutors can frame the facts in ways to trap a witness. However, it came out in a terribly mangled way.  In the meantime, President Trump was on Twitter asserting that White House Counsel Don McGahn is “no RAT” like John Dean in the Nixon Administration. Both statements took the worst possible framing of their respective arguments and predictably led to another wave of criticism. Continue reading “Giuliani: “Truth Isn’t Truth””