WHEN LAWYERS LIE

The Obstructing President’s Men

President Trump is wading into the deep end of the swamp he said he would drain. This weekend (8-5-2018), one of the President’s many personal attorneys went on TV right after Trump tweeted this, “Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!”

Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal attorney, was confronted on ABC TV on Sunday morning and about things he said previously regarding the infamous meeting in Trump Tower on June 9, 2016. Sekulow had said that Trump knew nothing of the meeting and that it was only about adoptions and the sanctions known as the Magnitsky Act. Now, Sekulow has been handed his own lie by his client’s early morning tweet.

On Fox News’ web site, the glaring headline read, “Trump attorney Jay Sekulow blames ‘bad information’ for Trump Tower statement mixup, says no sign Don Jr. under investigation.” It seems that his client lied to Jay. It also seems that his client has continuously lied to the American public, since the day he took office. Donald J. Trump is a LIAR!

One of the disconcerting things about America is our belief that there are different levels of truth and justice. Some say that attorneys are the public face of their clients and should try to sway public opinion. Others believe that you can try a case in the press and use TV reporters as shills in the quest to free a guilty man. As for the President of the United States, he can be removed from office only for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The Senate would be the final arbiter of his fate.

It should be perfectly clear to anyone watching this charade that it began with little lies about no one in the campaign even being approached by Russians, to an array of lies that then lead to the admission that, yes, the Russians interfered in the election, yes, we may have had some meetings but nothing came of them, and, then, the audacity to pronounce that no one broke the law. Astoundingly, lamebrain Rudy Giuliani now says that colluding with the Russians isn’t against the law.

Well, it didn’t take Vox.com very long to cite this statute, 52 USC 30121, 36 USC 510 — the law governing foreign contributions to US campaigns. There are two key passages that apply here. This is the first: A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value, or expressly or impliedly promise to make a contribution or a donation, in connection with any Federal, State, or local election.

Here’s the second important passage of the statute: “No person shall knowingly solicit, accept, or receive from a foreign national any contribution or donation prohibited by [this law].”

According to University of California Irvine election law expert Rick Hasen, the word “solicit,” has a very specific meaning in this context. To quote the relevant statute: “A solicitation is an oral or written communication that, construed as reasonably understood in the context in which it is made, contains a clear message asking, requesting, or recommending that another person make a contribution, donation, transfer of funds, or otherwise provide anything of value.”

We could get one thousand legal experts to weigh in here, but that isn’t the point. What’s relevant is in order to practice law these lawyers must take an oath and pass a test called the bar exam. In that legal tradition, and as officers of the court, they should tell the truth when defending their clients.  Although being bar licensed does trigger ethical obligations, they don’t actually come from the bar exam. It’s from the professional responsibility exam (that every lawyer has to take and pass within one year of taking the bar – either before or after) in each jurisdiction’s rules of professional conduct. There are remedies to address a lawyer who lies in court, but when in front of a camera and using creative messaging to attempt to make their client look innocent, they run the risk of ruining their own reputations.

The Great Orange Leader, who won the electoral college but not the popular vote, has created chaos where none was needed. Trump, the national narcissist, has disgraced his name, family and country by his actions and lies. He hardly understands the cure of Climate Change, the workings of the independent branches of government or people’s real needs. He will be stopped, if not by the Congress, surely by the awaking electorate, who know they have been played.

Sadly, all his lawyers know that the person they are representing cares not about their futures. Trump wishes only to protect himself from imaginary and real enemies. The fake fears of this man are covered up by the real jeopardy he now lives with. He lied. He knows, it just as we all know it.

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