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.


THE WHITE HOUSE IS NOT A FAMILY BUSINESS

Whatever Happened to Nepotism Rules?

Nepotism is the practice among those in power of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs. The law is pretty clear in our government and it applies to anyone hired in the executive, legislative or judicial branch:

A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official.

This isn’t “Fake News”, it’s 5 U.S. Code § 3110 – Employment of relatives; restrictions.  I don’t believe that not taking a paycheck, negates this rule. It says “appoint to a civilian position.” The appointment alone is not allowed.

Why does Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter, have an office in the White House?  Why is her husband, Jared Kushner, a top adviser and “employee” of the White House? They said they put their companies in a trust, although many ethics experts say that they haven’t done enough. Trump, the President himself, is benefiting from money flowing from foreign governments through his properties, but the issue and violation of the Emoluments Clause, will be covered at a later time.

Let’s focus on nepotism for this article. Why is this important? Why is there a rule that prohibits this? One problem that can arise from the government advertising an opening at one of its agencies, interviewing applicants and then hiring a less qualified person to serve in the position. It’s bad business and shoddy business practice to hire the lesser able person.

Another possible violation can occur if someone is passed over and claims they didn’t get the job because of something other than their talent and qualifications. That could trigger a lawsuit based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, of course, bars discrimination because of race, color, sex, religion or national origin. You may not be able to prove the intent, but the embarrassment of a court battle would cost the country money and time.

A further problem can result when a senior male employee marries a lower ranking female member of the team. Who has to leave the agency, the senior male, or the woman? This opens up the possible legal problem of sexual discrimination. In the case of Ivanka and Jared, you don’t have that problem, but we do see the complications when offspring are given responsibilities.

The situation with Donald Trump, Jr. and his meeting with a Russian attorney exposes the President to the fact that he will probably lie for his kids, just as easily as he lies about so many other things. If Don Jr. was a mere employee of the campaign, like Paul Manafort, Daddy Trump would have thrown him under the bus. Parents don’t usually do the right thing with their kids, instead they do the right thing for their kids. Think about what Trump Sr. said about his son, “He’s a good boy.” He’s almost 40-years-old Mr. President, but you see him as a “boy?” And the praise for all his transparency was so father-like, while today (7-14-2017) we learned that there were two other people in the room during the meeting; previous undisclosed. What are they hiding?

According to Forbes Magazine, “Kathy Wiseman, a founder of and consultant at Working Systems, thinks everyone should be careful in such a situation. Wiseman advises family businesses and organizations, bringing them both sociology and 30 years of business experience. She estimates that nepotism among top executives works out only 40% of the time.”

So, if nepotism causes problems or at least complications and discomfort 60% of the time, why are we the people allowing Donald Trump to instate less qualified people in positions around him without anyone charging forward and waving 5 U.S. Code § 3110 in his face? Who checks the White House on the matter of employment?

We broke away from a King and a kingdom in 1776. Part of what the rebels here in the 13 States wanted to avoid was an unelected king operating freely and unchecked above the law. Their solution was to create a revolution and break away from the tyranny of Kings. Royalty is based on bloodlines and the children of Kings and Queens get to take over when the parent expires. Does the US now live in that world?

Why are any of Trump’s kids involved in this administration? Perhaps the President needs his “blankie” of his children blindly supporting him and telling him he’s right. But this is only going to end in problems. Don Jr. and the exposure of his emails is just an example of why there is a rule about hiring your kids. And one could ask, what does Ivanka do? What is her job description? As a tax payer, can I see that?  NEPOTISM is bad for business and worse for the United States.

I find it rather remarkable that seven months into this administration we hear the words, “innocent”, “unethical”, “illegal” and “hoax” more often than a normal White House would produce. We can only hope that the Democrats find some believable messenger between now and 2020. The king has no pants and not a lot of regard for the law.

 

 


TRUMP GOT PLAYED BY PUTIN

Rookie President, Rookie Mistakes

We are starting to see things the way they really are. The President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, has a way of throwing things to the side with short little bursts of belligerence and denials. Trump is not an experienced politician. He might be a decent marketer and silly entertainer but, like many famous people, he lacks basic common sense on many levels.

When he recently (7-12-2017) recorded an interview with televangelist Pat Robertson, Trump talked about his “very great” meeting with Vladimir Putin. Trump said claims that Russia wanted to help him win the election is an illogical conclusion. Really?

The Donald said that Putin would have been happier with Hillary Clinton in the White House. He bases his opinion on the Trump administration’s buildup of the military and attempts to become a player in exporting energy. The Donald speculated that this “competition” with Russia makes Putin uneasy and Hillary would not have taken such steps. Huh?

The more we hear from this President, the more we realize that he has no fib filter. How can we possibly believe Agent Orange’s words about his meeting with Putin? Did they discuss sanctions? We don’t know. Did they talk about what could happen in Syria if Assad is dethroned? We don’t know. So much for being transparent, Mr. Trump.

Experts warned Trump that Putin would deny any wrong doing in the 2016 US election.  They also said that Putin would agree with Trump that cyber-security was a major issue and would suggest a joint task force, or “unit,” be established to work on the problem together. Our great Orange Leader fell for that hook, line and sinker. He even proudly announced it, until he heard loudly from thoughtful and fearless Senators that it was a colossally stupid idea. Then, he retreated with a tweet.

The mystery through this whole Russian interference fiasco is the disconnect from reality. When did evangelicals, hardworking middle-class Americans and classic Republicans decide that Russia was our friend? We don’t sell Russian cars here in America. We don’t back Russian aggression in eastern Europe and we certainly don’t like that Russia’s allies are Iran and Syria. So, in what world do these people live?

The Russia Supreme Court firmly recognizes only the Russian Orthodox Church and has banned Jehovah’s Witnesses by labeling them an extremist group. They have criminalized preaching, praying and evangelization outside of registered religious sites. Why wouldn’t Trump bring this issue up with Putin when he had his grand meeting? He didn’t. He didn’t talk about Human Rights at all. I guess it’s a lower priority for a guy who slams journalists, while talking with another guy who kills journalists.

We can now read and study the emails between Donald Trump, Jr. and what was presented as “opposition research” from a foreign adversary. Baby Donald said, “If it is what you say, I love it!” and now his old man says that anyone would have taken that meeting.

While the President was defending his son, the Senate was examining Christopher Wray in a hearing for his approval as the next FBI director.  The senior Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, made sure Wray knew his position on the meetings with known Russian operatives, “You want to be director of the FBI, pal. So, here’s what I want you to tell every politician: If you get a call from somebody suggesting that a foreign government wants to help you by disparaging your opponent, tell us all to call the FBI.” Graham, a Republican, was very clear what someone should do when something like this happens in the future. Was that a teachable moment, or what?

Putin probably pulled the strings and suggested his people get in touch with Trump’s people and of course, the best avenue to Trump and his associates would be through a business partner. Donald Trump has lied about not having any business in Russia and he keeps that fabrication alive with his inability to embrace the investigation into the Russian meddling into our elections. In short, Donald, Sr. is acting like a guilty person and Donald Jr. is showing the world that he is an inept fool.

Some say that Don Jr’s mistake was just a rookie mistake. His actions were certainly naïve, but driven by a need to please his father. Most people believe that he told his father about the meeting before or shortly after it happened. Only one Donald will have to admit that under oath. Surely, Don Jr. will take the Fifth.

It’s not so much that Don Jr. is a rookie, or that Jared Kushner left the meeting early, or that Paul Manafort’s experience might have been dulled by his rude cellphone addiction during the meeting, but it’s clear that the candidate in the campaign was a just as much a rookie.

Donald Trump can’t fire his son.  This presents a dilemma of epic proportions to our President. He can say only that his son is innocent. Sad!

The real winner in all this is Putin. We have to watch Trump carefully now. Four months after Donald Trump fired Preet Bharara, who was then Manhattan US Attorney, a money-laundering suit was settled for nearly $6 million against a Russian owned Cyprus-based company. Some in the know say that the amount paid was nothing compared to what could have been retrieved in court. Did Trump and Sessions pull strings for Russia?

Trump was played by Putin and this will continually be a shadow on the President’s term in office. As a player on the opposing team once said of Putin’s preference for president, “Well, that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.”

People are asking could’ve Don Jr. be that naïve.  I ask, can Donald J. Trump be that stupid?