Russia Probe

  • 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.

  • April 6, 2018

    by Dan Froomkin

    A Washington Post story describing how special counsel Robert Mueller intends to release reports of his findings "to answer the public’s questions" confirms what some Justice Department veterans have long maintained: That criminal indictments are not Mueller's only goal -- or even his primary goal. What he's really after, these observers say, is the whole story. And then he intends to tell it.

    In a typical criminal investigation, prosecutors are limited to only disclosing investigative details directly relevant to prosecutable crimes. That's why special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald never disclosed the vast majority of the incriminating evidence he discovered about the leak of Valerie Plame's identity by the Bush/Cheney White House; the only case he felt he could make was against Cheney aide Scooter Libby, for obstruction.

  • February 28, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Daniel S. Goldman, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

    On February 16, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III unsealed a 37-page indictment charging 13 Russian nationals and three entities principally with conspiring against the United States to infiltrate the 2016 election through a sophisticated and complex scheme that included the use of stolen identities of American citizens to surreptitiously influence and infiltrate social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Although each United States intelligence agency has definitively stated, without equivocation, that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, those agencies were constrained to explain how Russia did so with any detail because of legal restrictions on classified material. Yet for the first, time, this indictment provides extensive detail about how one aspect of this Russian meddling in the 2016 election occurred.