Category: Lawyering

“Sleep Well”: Cohen Attorney Conveyed Alleged Message From Giuliani To Rest Assured Because He Had “Friends In High Places”

As the attorneys for Michael Cohen struggle to get Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings not to fulfill his promise to refer Cohen for prosecution for any perjury in his recent testimony, Cohen has released a shocking email from April 2018 in which Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is quoted as telling Cohen to effectively not worry about his situation because he has “friends in high places.” The email telling Cohen to “sleep well” was part of a “back channel” communication with A lawyer told Cohen in an email in April 2018 that he can “sleep well” because he has “friends in high places,” following an alleged “back channel” communication with Cohen lawyer Robert J. Costello.

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Iran Sentences Lawyer To 38 Years and 148 Lashes After Representing Women Opposed To The Islamic Headscarf

We have been discussing the incredible courage of women activists in Saudi Arabia and Iran who are being arrested, tortured, and imprisoned for claiming the most basic civil liberties. One of the most inspiring activists is Nasrin Sotoudeh, a world renowned human rights lawyer jailed in Iran for her representation of women who removed their mandatory headscarf. In an act of unspeakable brutality and savagery, an Iranian court has sentenced her to 38 years and 148 lashes in a trumped up charge of spying, spreading propaganda, and insulting Iran’s supreme leader. In the meantime, ten women are being tried in Saudi Arabia which continues to repress women and girls under its strict Islamic code.

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“When God Tells Me I Gotta Do Something, I Gotta Do It”: Texas Judge Tells Jury To Reconsider Guilty Verdict After Divine Intervention

Comal County Judge Jack Robison has caused a considerable controversy in Texas after he told a jury to go back after it reached a guilty verdict in a sex trafficking case because God told him the defendant was innocent. There have been long debates over what a court can use as a matter of “judicial notice” but divine intervention is not one of them.

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Trump Selects Jessie Liu As Associate Attorney General

While President Donald Trump has been criticized for his pressuring of Justice officials like former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others, he has actually selected highly qualified people for vacancies in the Department. That was the case with Attorney Bill Barr and that is the case with the nomination this week of U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu as Associate Attorney General of the United States. Liu, 46, is an exceptionally well qualified nominee and, just as Trump has been rightfully criticized for some of his actions, he should be praised for this nomination. (For full disclosure, Liu is married to one of my colleagues, Michael Abramowicz.)

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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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Report: Trump Pressured The Justice Department To Oppose The AT&T Warner Merger

The New Yorker is reporting that President Donald Trump ordered Gary Cohn, then Trump’s chief economic adviser, to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger last summer. If true, the action could raise an additional allegation of the abuse of power and a direct lie to the American public. Months later, Trump expressly denied playing any role in the decision to sue to oppose the $85 billion merger. Trump’s intense dislike for CNN (owned by Time Warner) had been a long source of speculation that he was seeking to punish the cable network for its criticism of him and his Administration.

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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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Report: Trump Ordered Kushner Clearance Over Objections Of Intelligence and Legal Staff

There is a deeply troubling story in the New York Times concerning the long fight over President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’ security clearance. After a long refusal to give him a top secret clearance, Kushner was finally cleared and President Trump indicated that he played no role in the decision and that it was made by the intelligence officials. There is now a report that intelligence officials refused to change their position and maintained that Kushner should not be given a clearance. Trump then reportedly overrode the opposition from both his national security and legal staffs in ordering that Kushner be given the clearance. The order was sufficiently alarming that both Trump Chief of Staff, (former Gen. and Homeland Security Secretary) John Kelly, and his White House Counsel Don McGahn, wrote internal memos on their objections as a record. As someone who has worked in the field with a top secret special intelligence clearance since the Reagan Administration, I find this report to be chilling. It is exceptionally rare and the further highlights the problems caused by nepotism in government. Congress has also objected that the White House has not cooperated into its oversight investigation into the matter.

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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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Harvard Students Demand Dean Step Down Due To His Representations of Harvey Weinstein

Harvard students are petitioning for the removal of law professor Ronald Sullivan, the house dean (previously called House Master) of Winthrop House. The school has announced a “climate review” on whether Sullivan can continue as dean after he agreed to represent accused sexual harassers Harvey Weinstein and Harvard economics professor Roland Fryer. It appears that even the representation of people accused of sexual harassment is now considered its a threatening or improper act.

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Are Democrats Giving Trump An Excuse To Pardon Manafort?

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the effort in New York to change constitutional protections against double jeopardy to allow prosecutors to charge former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort with state offenses. The effort is to guarantee that Manafort goes to jail if President Donald Trump gives him a pardon. The sight of politicians campaigning on the pledge to jail Manafort raises serious concerns of this highly selective effort. Moreover, the effort to change New York constitutional protection to get Manafort could give Trump precisely the basis for a pardon that Democrats are preemptively trying to deter. I have repeatedly said that a pardon for Manafort would be inexcusable. He has more than earned any sentence that a court chooses to give him and the New York effort should not change that. However, if the Democrats tailor their constitutional protections to get Manafort, they are giving Trump the ability to say that he is responding to selective targeting of Manafort to guarantee that he is not punished twice for the same underlying conduct. More importantly, New York should not sacrifice its commendable protection against double jeopardy to get Manafort. He is not worth it.

Here is the column:

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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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Manafort Loses Plea Deal After Judge Finds False Statements To Special Counsel

Paul Manafort added to his burgeoning record of alleged crimes and falsehoods this week with a decision from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson that he had broken his cooperation agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller by making false statements and withholding information. The result could be devastating for Manafort who will now face sentencing without the benefit of the plea deal that he struck with Mueller. That could mean that, absent a pardon from President Donald Trump, Manafort could die in prison since he is looking at decades of potential jail time.

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Did National Enquirer Extort Jeff Bezos?

In an incredible disclosure, the Amazon founder and owner of The Washington Post Jeff Bezos has released what he says was communications from the National Enquirer that sought to blackmail him into dropping an investigation into the tabloid’s motivations in targeting Bezos, a long target of President Donald Trump. The tabloid is of course owned by close Trump friend David Pecker, who is viewed by many as a thoroughly disreputable businessman. On this occasion, however, Bezos says that he has something that has long been missing: an actual letter laying out the alleged extortive pitch. In the middle of this sordid mess is an American Media, Inc. (AMI) attorney named Jon Fine, who identifies himself as the Associate General Counsel. The role of an attorney in such a matter could raise very serious bar and ethical concerns.

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DOJ Agrees To Investigate Epstein Deal . . . Sort Of

I have previously written about the disgraceful sweetheart deal given to accused serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The deal was struck by Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta and not only succeeded in protecting Epstein from serous jail time but protecting a host of high-profile friends including Bill Clinton who were regulars at his infamous island resort. The problem is that the investigation is not being handled by the Inspector General but the oft-criticized DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility. OPR is routinely criticized for its defense of accused officials, even in some indefensible circumstances. For critics, it often seems more like OPR offers more cover than scrutiny in controversies over prosecutorial abuse. Moreover, the Epstein scandal involves serious questions of corrupt influence by powerful friends of Epstein. Such questions require serious investigative measures. OPR is more likely to find that the deal was within the scope of permissible decisions by a prosecutor like Acosta despite being widely ridiculed as an utter disgrace.

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