Trump’s Recent Lawyer Pick Could Be A Brilliant Strategic Move

Reuters/Keith Bedford

Ted Goodman Contributor
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President Donald Trump’s recent decision to hire an private attorney to defend him against any potential Russian-related charges will help him avoid a major problem faced by former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

Trump retained Marc Kasowitz, who has represented Trump throughout the years in matters ranging from his divorce records to his real-estate endeavors. While Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, the recent appointment of special counsel to investigate possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign forced the president to take the matter seriously.

The president’s decision to rely on Kasowitz, who will serve Trump as outside legal counsel, may protect the communications between Trump and Kasowitz from the eyes of federal investigators.

Twenty years ago, as Politico pointed out, Clinton lost an argument in court that White House communications with government attorneys was protected by attorney-client privilege.

During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the White House tried to shield certain aides from questioning by federal investigators. A court ruled that White House aides must answer a federal grand jury’s questions and cannot invoke attorney-client privilege.

“The Office of the President is a part of the federal government, consisting of government employees doing government business, and neither legal authority nor policy nor experience suggests that a federal government entity can maintain the ordinary common law attorney-client privilege to withhold information relating to a federal criminal offense,” the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 1998 decision.

The Supreme Court refused to hear the Clinton White House appeal, leaving the D.C. Circuit Court ruling in place. Government paid attorneys could not claim attorney-client privilege like Clinton’s personal attorneys.

Kasowitz responded to former FBI Director James Comey’s Thursday morning testimony in a speech at the National Press Club Thursday.

Kasowitz said that the president felt “completely and totally vindicated” after Comey’s written statement was released in advance to the hearing.

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