"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Thursday, March 29, 2018

"Only the BEST people!"

Renato Mariotti describes himself as a partner in Thompson Coburn and a former federal prosecutor.  He and I agree (though whether a judge would is always an open question):  the $1 million remedies provided in the agreement between Trump ("DD") and Daniels ("PP") are available only to Trump, and only as compensation for damages to his reputation if the story or documents covered by the Agreement are made public.  EC, the entity making the payment for the documents, can't recover under any legal theory for damages to Trump's reputation.  (This is pretty much hornbook law, as death stops an active libel case, since you can't libel the dead.  Libel is personal, in other words; even the estate of the recently departed can't prosecute a claim.)

Trump has succeeded by bullying, not by intelligence.  He hires stupid lawyers who terrorize people into submission (there is evidence Ms. Daniels was steered toward a Trump associated lawyer, and probably didn't have a lawyer of her own when this agreement was presented to her.).  He was literally born on third base and thinks he hit a triple; hell, he thinks he's the winner of the World Series, and its owner at the same time.

This would be amusing if it weren't real life, and a dark comedy if it were presented as fiction.  Speaking of which:

The revelation is that corporate America is built less on a formal system of laws and rules and norms than on an elaborate and expensive set of mechanisms for getting around that formal system.
That's the conclusion, or maybe more accurately the thesis, of an article by Dahlia Lithwick  and Mark Joseph Stern.  It sticks out because it's a sentence that could only be written by lawyers with no legal experience whatsoever.  I never practiced law beyond the confines of a small law firm or two in Austin, Texas, but even I learned from that experience that this is how businesses do business, and why they pay lawyers to help them do that business.  It's not cynicism to say that anybody who claims a knowledge of the law and doesn't know that business (not just corporate business) in America is run on "an elaborate and expensive set of mechanisms for getting around the formal system" is hopelessly naive, or has simply never worked on a contract matter or tried a contract dispute in court.

They don't pay lawyers to be policemen.  I'd have thought that was obvious.  That said, Trump is revealing exactly this:

In New York Real Estate Land, Multiple Divorce Land, and Repeated Bankruptcy Land, one can string together a lifetime’s worth of mandatory arbitration clauses, nondisclosure agreements, prenups, and frivolous lawsuits. The only legal system Trump can comprehend—and the only legal system the Cohens and the Kasowitzes are good at navigating—is one that consists entirely of loopholes and workarounds. That system, which runs on threats and intimidation and huge sums of cash, has made a lot of men who look and sound like Donald Trump obscenely wealthy. It is, like it or lump it, the American way.
And the only reason Stormy Daniels is talking to Anderson Cooper now is because she finally hired a real lawyer, rather than being intimidated by Trump's money.  After her, who will be intimidated by Trump's money?  A vanishingly small number of people, I'll wager.

This is not going to end the way Trump wants it to.  The rule of law, in some form or fashion, will prevail over bluster and braggadocio.  If it ends up being a civics lesson for the nation, that's just lagniappe.  Although I thought Nixon was going to be a civics lesson, too, so, there's that.


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