Watergate Prosecutor Says DOJ Will Scrutinize Mar-a-Lago Materials
President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort played host to dozens of world leaders and diplomats earlier this year, but it also served as the site of an April meeting between his personal lawyer and the attorney for two women who were pursuing lawsuits against one of Trump’s top donors. That meeting between Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen and Florida attorney Elliott Broidy, whose client had been accused of sexual misconduct, has prompted questions about whether ethics rules have been violated.
Why should we care?
The House Judiciary Committee recently subpoenaed two of President Trump’s former lawyers to testify. The committee is also seeking any evidence, including recordings or written material, that might be relevant to the investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and obstruction of justice by Trump. Prosecutors will be looking for evidence that could constitute as a crime under federal law. They will also examine documents for underlying crimes, such as fraud and money laundering. There are concerns that witnesses could tamper with records if given the opportunity so the FBI will fingerprint the files before handing them over to the prosecutors; which means checking for fingerprints on each individual document inside those seized from Trump’s club to see if they match anyone connected with this case.
What is the issue?
If you are an American, it has been no secret that we have had a tumultuous election cycle. Our nation is divided and our new president-elect ran on the promise of making America great again. Trump promised to unite the country with his winning personality and so far has used Twitter as a way to communicate with his supporters—particularly in mocking Saturday Night Live’s lackluster ratings when they were lampooning him. This seems like a man who will go after anyone who challenges him, even he if has won. However, what many people don’t know is that even though this country (and the world) just concluded its most grueling presidential campaign season, President Obama is still governing the United States until President Trump takes office on January 20th, 2017.
Why does this matter now?
Many business owners don’t think that what they do impacts other people, especially people in their professional life. This is because most people are very isolated and confined to their own area of expertise. But what it looks like on the surface may not be the whole picture. For example, Trump’s personal lawyer had his home raided by federal investigators, in which they seized documents related to various projects including hush money payments and paperwork related to past business partnerships with foreign governments. All of this activity led back to Trump’s front door so not only were his affairs put out there for all the world to see but so were all of those who have worked with him over the years or have been members of his inner circle–putting them at risk for getting dragged into investigations as well.
How can our legal system play a role?
The role of the legal system is to help businesses avoid costly and litigious disputes. If a business has a corporate policy and violates it, they risk violating the law and experiencing civil liability. If an employee neglects their duties, they could be charged with negligence or some other misdemeanor if they are found guilty. There is also a common misconception that lawsuits happen more frequently than they do. Often people want to take other people to court because they feel frustrated or misunderstood, but often times this doesn’t actually solve anything. While litigation can be seen as a last resort for resolving disputes, it’s often best to go in with a plan before taking any action against anyone else.
What about security clearances?
He offered his opinion that it might be necessary to get security clearances in order to assess the materials. I’m sure they’re going to be fingerprinting every one of those documents. he said. I hope that they do review all of them before some sensitive material gets dumped on the Internet, and then we learn what actually happened a year or two years from now.
Does Trump have immunity as president?
It is unlikely that the president has immunity from criminal prosecution, but it is not unheard of. It’s worth noting that, even if he does have some sort of protection, it’s difficult to invoke this type of defense. In order to claim immunity from prosecution as president, one must either have a constitutional privilege against self-incrimination or a prosecutorial authority may be constitutionally bound by federal law not to prosecute. It would likely require a lawsuit for the President to prove he should not be prosecuted in order to decide one way or another whether he has immunity or not.
What did Trump know and when did he know it?
President Trump has had a terrible week, what with Steve Bannon openly accusing him of being unfit for office. You know it’s bad when the former White House Chief Strategist says that Trump is worse than I thought he was. However, he may have made an even worse mistake: invoking executive privilege to try and stop Don McGahn from testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee. John Dean, who served as Richard Nixon’s White House Counsel during Watergate, called the move an invitation to the next wave of trouble. What we now have is a situation where one federal agency–the Department of Justice–is questioning whether a sitting president can invoke executive privilege in this way. It could end up in court and could open another problematic can of worms for President Trump.