There are so many lawyers, so many lawsuits and so much legal news surrounding President Trump that we decided to call our own lawyer to catch you up.
The end of the road, for now
It’s been more than three years since Josh Barro and Ken White started All The President’s Lawyers (the first name of this show) to explore the legal problems of then-President Donald Trump, and wow, did he have legal problems. He still has legal problems, but he’s no longer president, and it’s time to wind down this very fun show.
On this final episode, Josh and Ken update us on where the main characters are now: Trump himself, Michael Cohen, and more.
Thanks for listening to All The President’s/s’ Lawyers.
Just 22 days after Steve Bannon was referred to the Department of Justice for contempt of Congress, we have an indictment. Is that a long time? No, very much not. Ken says that’s the speed you’d expect for someone who’s robbed a break or something “showy that involves guns.” What happens next? What does the government have to prove here? And what message does this send to the other people defying subpoenas?
Then: Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” has dropped her long-running defamation lawsuit against former Presidnet Trump, not long before he was supposed to finally be deposed. Zervos accused Trump of groping her at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2007, and in 2016, Trump denied meeting her or greeting her inappropriately. She sued him for defamation, and he successfully delayed the litigation through his presidency. Lately though, it appeared that lawyers were negotiating his deposition. Now Zervos’s lawyers say she “no longer wishes to litigate against the defendant and has secured the right to speak freely about her experience.” Josh and Ken read the tea leaves here.
Plus: an update on the National Archives documents, Alex Jones, and Sidney Powell and the curious story of the supposed capture of CIA Director Gina Haspel…(what???)
Another indictment from Durham
There’s been another indictment in special prosecutor John Durham’s investigation of the investigation into links between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. It’s another indictment for false statements to federal officials, this time of Igor Danchenko, a Russian national and Russia analyst who was one of Christopher Steele’s sources in assembling the infamous dossier. The thrust of the allegations in the indictment are that Danchenko lied to FBI investigators about where information that ended up in the dossier came from, and it looks like most of his information came from one political operative.
The indictment itself is long, it’s detailed, and it seems like it’s making an argument, and it also seems like it makes a strong case for how some false statements prevented the FBI from accurately evaluating the information provided. Josh Barro and Ken White analyze this second indictment from Durham and what this shows about how the FBI and the media handled the information in the dossier. Does former President Trump have a point about this being a “witch hunt”?
Plus: a judge gets an unusual and pretty annoying request from the Trump legal team, a Capitol riot suspect fled to Belarus because his lawyer advised it (he claims) and another wants to ask a judge’s permission to take a paid-for vacation, and the Schlapp legal fund.
We now know which documents former President Trump is seeking to block from the January 6 select committee: the White House daily diary, which would show his movements and meetings; phone records and records of his senior staff, and a few other documents, including a draft of a speech for the “Save America” rally, a handwritten note, and more. Trump is asserting executive privilege, which is a kind of made-up doctrine but everyone still agrees that former presidents still have some executive privilege anyways. What we do know based on precedent is that the public’s interest in having information will be weighed against the former president’s interest in keeping things secret, but does analysis of whether the former president was up to no good factor in to that?
We now have the January 6 committee putting some requests for documents on hold, and it sounds like they may be doing that after discussions with the Biden White House. What is the strategy behind this? And if there is a big dispute over executive privilege, is that likely to end up in front of the Supreme Court eventually?
Plus: did you know there’s a Trump SPAC? Rudy claims three documents out of more than 2,000 seized in the FBI raid on his home and office may be privileged, and the January 6 judges continue speaking their minds.
Guilty. Appealing. Talking. Referred for contempt.
This week, Josh Barro and Ken White catch up on a few familiar characters and tie up some loose threads.
Lev Parnas, former associate of Rudy Giuliani: convicted of six counts of charges related to funneling and concealing political contributions. There was speculation about whether Parnas himself would take the stand — Ken talks about when that’s a good idea and when that’s very much not a good idea.
Michael Avenatti: still a free man for now, but indicted on four sets of trials, and one of them ended in a mistrial several weeks ago. The government failed to disclose some evidence and now Avenatti is entitled to a new trial with that new evidence. But Avenatti is making a double jeopardy claim: that he has a constitutional right not to be tried twice. This is a thin argument — Avenatti may be working another strategy — and long story short, the Ninth Circuit agreed to a expedited briefing schedule.
John Eastman, lawyer and author of the now-infamous (at least to our listeners) Eastman memo laying out how Vice President Mike Pence could maneuver to keep Trump in office: sitting for extended interviews about the circumstances of that memo and whether it reflected his views. Was he acting as a lawyer in those moments? And would that be a shield for him?
Steve Bannon, former Trump adviser and pardon recipient: held in criminal contempt by the House of Representatives and referred to the Department of Justice. What does that mean? And is it a boatload of work for the DC U.S. Attorney’s office, which has its proverbial hands full with January 6 prosecutions?
Testing the boundaries of executive privilege
Former President Trump has sued the National Archives and the chairman of the January 6 investigating committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson, to try to prevent the disclosure of White House papers, records and communications up to and during the riot. He’s asserting executive privilege. What does that mean again? Where does the idea of executive privilege come from, and how are the interests weighed in a situation like this? And then...does a former president have a strong executive privilege claim? That’s a not-very-well-explored question.
Trump is also instructing former advisers, including Steve Bannon, not to comply with subpoenas from the committee. Bannon hasn’t been complying and so the committee voted to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress. Does that mean the Sergeant at Arms has a job to do? (Not just yet.)
Plus: President Trump is deposed for more than four hours, New York’s new anti-SLAPP law and the Summer Zervos lawsuit, Lev Parnas’s ongoing trial, and Congressman Fortenberry is indicted.