Friday, December 14, 2018

Speaking of "advice of counsel"

Trump's defense is a novel theory that, if a lawyer says it's okay, it can't be a crime to follow that advice.  But it wasn't a crime because it wasn't a campaign contribution and besides, he was following legal advice, so "King's 'X'"!  Except somebody forgot to tell his new lawyer:

Trump insists he is innocent of any related crimes because he never explicitly asked for Cohen or AMI to violate campaign finance law by sitting on stories of his extra-marital affairs. And the president’s current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, contends that the scandal is overblown entirely.

“Nobody got killed, nobody got robbed… This was not a big crime,” Giuliani told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. He added, sardonically, “I think in two weeks they’ll start with parking tickets that haven’t been paid.”
It's a crime, says Rudy, but "This was not a big crime."  See?  Only "big crimes" matter.  I'm sure Rudy heard that defense against white collar crime many times when he was a prosecutor.  Trump says there was no crime; his lawyer says it was a crime, but a small one. "Advice of counsel" as a defense is getting weaker and weaker.

And then he realizes his error:

Of course now we're back to "deep state conspiracy," but that sounds so nuts even Giuliani prefers "witch hunt!"  Because if these are non-crimes, why did Cohen plead guilty and get a judge to accept it?  Non-crimes don't generally end up with three-year prison terms approved by a trial judge.  But at least he's not undermining the President's non-legal argument, so that's something.

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