By Paul F. Spears
In my small town, friends in conversation about legal issues may occasionally include a qualifier with their comments. "I'm no Philadelphia lawyer, but...."
I'm no Philadelphia lawyer, either. But what I can't figure out is why righteous Progressives have absolutely no problem with Robert Mueller's raid on Michael Cohen's office, and have no concerns whatsoever about Mueller coercing Cohen to rat out privileged conversations with President Trump.
Our breathless media reports that Cohen claims "Trump told him to break the law". Whatever happened to a client's right to say ANYTHING in confidence to his attorney? It is the attorney's job to counsel and to guide his client in lawful actions. If an attorney commits a crime during representation of his client, the crime should be his alone. It should not matter if an attorney betrays his client's confidential conversations to a prosecutor. The client should still be protected, as those conversations are supposed to inadmissible in court.
So, if Cohen reveals some "scheme" by Trump to "violate campaign finance laws" (or anything else, for that matter), shouldn't Cohen's statements be worthless to Mueller as privileged attorney-client communications? The only result should be that Cohen is disbarred for betraying his client's trust. Period.
And what about the raid on Cohen's office? Is it OK for Special Counsel Storm Troopers to forcibly seize privileged and confidential records to make a case against Trump? What kind of police state tactic is that? What happened to the right to confidential counsel? Most concerning of all: why is it so important to get rid of Trump that we're willing to throw our civil liberties away?
Turning it around hypothetically.
What if the offices of lawyers for Hillary Clinton and John Podesta are ransacked, and all client/lawyer communications seized. The lawyers are threatened with long jail terms because their records revealed their assistance in covering up mishandling of classified materials. Under threat of long jail terms, the lawyers reveal their conversations with Clinton and Podesta. Clinton and Podesta are convicted of national security violations, using their own conversations with their attorneys against them. Progressives fill the streets, screaming "Fascism!"
Or simpler yet, what if a young black teenager is charged with a minor non-violent crime. He is assigned a public defender. In the course of counseling the frightened young man, the public defender learns that he had simply been at the wrong place at the wrong time. The client admits that he was selling small amounts of marijuana to his friends, thinking that would establish his alibi. The public defender calls the D.A.'s office, and betrays his client's confidence. The young man is convicted of dealing drugs and sentenced to a long prison term, even though the original charge is dropped. Progressives fill the streets, screaming "Racism!"
Are either of these scenarios A-OK? Not with me.
And neither is the raid on Michael Cohen and his subsequent betrayal of his client, President Trump, under extreme legal duress from the Special Prosecutor.
As Alan Dershowitz has noted, many politicians spend untold millions on their own campaigns. Mike Bloomberg certainly did as Mayor of NY. The Obama campaign received a $375,000 fine for millions in unreported contributions from foreign nationals. Even if Trump's sordid $130,000 payoff of a porn actress is somehow a "campaign violation", then at most Trump should be fined. Trump can more than credibly argue that his payment was to limit the damage to his wife and family. That isn't much different from Bill Clinton paying Paula Jones $850,000 to buy her silence before his impeachment proceedings.
What has America come to? Where is America going?