The President just sent out an ignorant tweet raising a legal defense that is about to expose every detail of his attorney-client relationship with convicted felon Michael Cohen.
Donald Trump told the entire world that his “advice of counsel” amounts to a get-out-of-jail-free card (it doesn’t) in federal court.
Little did he know that raising the legal defense that “your lawyer said everything was ok,” actually allows federal prosecutors to dig into all of a criminal defendant’s communications with their lawyers!
Here’s the tweet in question:
I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called “advice of counsel,” and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid. Despite that many campaign finance lawyers have strongly……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2018
“It is well understood that raising an advice of counsel defense consequently waives attorney/client privilege,” Stuart M. Gerson wrote in The National Law Review.
“7,146 are Privileged, 285 are Highly Personal, and 8 are Partially Privileged,” [the Special Master Barbara] Jones wrote in her final report on the Cohen documents. But now the privileged-and-protected status of those documents are potentially in jeopardy.
In the last 12 years, the Trump Organization constructed a hotel in lower Manhattan that fell into foreclosure, a Toronto tower that the Wall Street Journal linked to the Kremlin’s financing and a Chicago tower that yielded a mystery loan that Pulitzer-winning journalist David Fahrenthold is still researching.
One might imagine that Michael Cohen’s privileged communications he had with the President while he was in his employ would contain embarrassing or potentially criminal information about one or all of those projects.
It didn’t take long for lawyers to recognize the fatal error that President Trump had just made. Only 37 minutes after asserting his “advice of counsel” defense, ACLU lawyer Joshua Block took to Twitter and explained let the world know how badly Trump had messed up.
Asserting an “advice of counsel” defense generally constitutes a waiver of attorney client privilege. Maybe the materials withheld by the special master Barbara Jones will eventually be turned over to SDNY after all. https://t.co/lKUTcIiqDD
— Joshua Block (@JoshABlock) December 13, 2018
Donald Trump has already faced significant exposure to criminal liability for the campaign finance violations his former personal lawyer pled guilty to and was sentenced to three years of incarceration for this week.
This morning in a single tweet, Donald Trump has dissolved the cone of silence surrounding his dealings with the one man who knows all of his secrets, going back a decade or more.
Michael Cohen just told the entire world yesterday that he’s most concerned with rectifying the mistake he made of pledging blind loyalty to an unstable trust-fund baby and helping him illegally get elected to the presidency.
Now, it appears that that Trump’s fixer won’t be able to hold anything back from state and federal prosecutors.