Russia Probe

  • April 20, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Caroline Fredrickson, ACS President

    Firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or any investigator in the Russia probe without cause would clearly create a constitutional crisis. We must get ready to respond now. That’s why I asked the Federalist Society to join us “in a united effort to avert a constitutional crisis relating to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election” in a letter, covered by Reuters, The Hill and Above the Law.

    And today over 400 ACS law students pledged “to ensure nobody is above the law” if Trump attempts to undermine Special Counsel Mueller. “If the Special Counsel or Deputy Attorney General is fired, we will find our voice and use it,” stated the student letter.

    President Trump and his enablers have engaged in a nine-month long smear campaign against the inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The aim of the campaign against the Mueller investigation – the most successful attack against officials in the executive branch since Joe McCarthy – is clear: obstruction of justice. We are watching a slow-motion Saturday Night Massacre.

    In a recent editorial, appropriately titled “The President Is Not Above the Law,” the New York Times concluded that “if the president does move against the investigators, it will be up to Congress to affirm the rule of law, the separation of powers and the American constitutional order.”

  • April 20, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Sarah Mahmood, Stanford Law School ‘19, ACS Co-President 2017-2018 and Sophia Carrillo, Stanford Law School ‘18, ACS Co-President 2016-2017, Next Generation Leader

    The weekend of January 27, 2017, we didn’t do any of our constitutional law reading. Instead, we swapped the library for the airport for a different kind of legal education. As we sat in circles on the airport floor, holding makeshift signs affirming our support for love and justice, we joined the crowd in its many choruses. And after “No bans, no walls!” came another refrain, one that reminded us of why we had applied to law school in the first place—“Thank you, lawyers!”

    Punctuated by claps, the chant was a moving tribute to the lawyers who had worked all night to free those detained at the airport as a result of President Trump’s travel ban. It was a humbling moment, one that reminded us that even when it seemed like everything was falling apart, we were not helpless, but there to help put things back together—that as lawyers and law students, we had both the immense responsibility and the incredible privilege to pursue justice and uphold the rule of law. 

  • April 19, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Andy Wright, Associate Professor, Savannah Law School

     The American political and legal scenes continue to be roiled by the FBI’s execution of a search warrant on Donald J. Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen’s legal office and residential hotel room.  In response, President Trump tweeted “Attorney-client privilege is dead!” An FBI raid of an attorney’s office raises sticky issues related to the attorney-client privilege and litigation work product—all the more magnified in the political glare associated with one of the President’s longtime attorneys.  However, the privilege has never applied to communications furthering ongoing or future criminal conduct, or business conversations unrelated to the provision of legal advice. Further, as Sara Kropf explains, the Department of Justice has exacting procedures—apparently followed in this case—designed to protect client equities in validly privileged materials.  For these reasons, President Trump’s and Mr. Cohen’s attorneys are unlikely to prevail in their effort to obtain exclusive privilege review in the aftermath of the raid.

  • April 18, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Victoria Bassetti 

    Reworking the Department of Justice’s senior leadership team is a lot harder than deploying a catch phrase in a reality TV show. “You’re fired,” works when people have contracts that allow termination at will (and in exchange for ratings).

    It does not work smoothly when the employee at issue is Rod Rosenstein, the Senate-confirmed number two at the Department of Justice. There are no TV cameras at Main Justice. But there are battalions of lawyers all over D.C. ready to pounce on the smallest legal misstep.

    An effort by President Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and sub in a pliable replacement who will fire or hobble Special Counsel Robert Mueller is complicated. It can be attempted by following one of two paths.

  • April 16, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Alan Neff

    *This piece was originally posted on Crooks & Liars.

    Michael Cohen is challenging the seizure of his files, computers, phones, and other materials by federal criminal investigators in Manhattan. Mr. Cohen is asserting his materials are protected from seizure and disclosure by attorney-client privilege and should be returned to him, unexamined by federal investigators or prosecutors.