Teri Kanefield @Teri_Kanefield Author, lawyer (U.C. Berkeley). I tweet about the law, books, politics, and history. All my threads are here as blog entries: t.co/vdLoEAoLvv Jan. 18, 2019 3 min read

(thread) Trump's "legal" defense

I mentioned that Trump has no legal strategy or defense.

@sdterp pointed out that Trump has lots of lawyers & looking for more, so he must be preparing for a legal battle.

I suspect he'll never have a traditional legal defense. Here's why.

1/ Trump, Giuliani, Sarah Sanders, etc., lie and constantly their stories, right out there in public.

Remember “I have nothing to do with Russia, folks.” Oct. 2016.
And all those denials about business deals in Russia?  https://theweek.com/speedreads/810185/8-times-trump-denied-doing-business-russiafolks-792709187907 

2/ Everyone knows that people who lie & change their stories aren't credible witnesses.

Plus Trump keeps obstructing justice (a crime) right there in plain sight.

He came right out and said he will “fight back” against the Mueller probe! (obstruct)  https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/11/trump-fightback-514513 

3/ And what about all that witness intimidation? Right there in plain view.
 https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/12/03/trumps-latest-tweets-cross-clear-lines-experts-say-obstruction-justice-witness-tampering/?utm_term=.09d79a3e2394 
 https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/democrats-warn-trump-not-discourage-or-intimidate-michael-cohen-testifying-n958171 
You can’t prepare a traditional legal defense while intimidating witnesses, obstructing justice, changing the story each time new evidence emerges, etc.

4/ Trump’s critics conclude that Trump is losing his marbles and his lawyers are asleep at the switch.

I believe there’s method to the madness (can happen at the same times as actual madness)

I argued last Aug. that Trump has a 4 part plan to beat the Mueller probe:

5/

1: Cultivate a cult of leadership

2. Create a world in which facts don’t matter (because if facts don’t matter, jury verdicts and the results of investigations have no meaning),

3. Persuade people that ALL politicians are dishonest (which makes going after Trump political)

6/ And #4: Torpedo rule of law itself.

More here⤵️


I’m not seeing any of that changing. In fact, as Mueller is closing in, Trump and Giuliani are bearing down on each of those four. They're lying more, more rapidly changing their stories, etc.

7/“But what about all his lawyers?” you ask. “And those he’s recruiting?”

Let’s look more closely.
Early last year, Bob Bauer made the astute observation that Trump uses lawyers to find a way around the law while providing him with a veil of deniability.  https://www.lawfareblog.com/president-and-his-lawyers 

8/ We can start with Roy Cohn. If you want to know how Roy Cohn enabled Trump’s lawbreaking, read this:  https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/06/donald-trump-roy-cohn-relationship 

Michael Cohen was a "fixer" who did things like secretly pay hush money to porn stars. And that’s evidently just the beginning.

9/ Trump has always expected his lawyers to break the law.

That didn't change after he became President.
Remember how enraged he was when Sessions recused himself, even though the law specifically required him to do so?
 https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/28/45.2 

10/ Comey said TrumpWorld reminded him of the mob.
 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/04/13/comey-said-working-with-trump-reminded-him-of-the-mob-lets-break-that-comment-down/?utm_term=.e2e9ac38170c 
In the 1980s, Reagan’s staff commissioned a study on mob lawyers and organized crime: “Renegade lawyers” launder illegally obtained money, orchestrate perjured testimony, bribe officials, etc.

11/ They’re called mob lawyers. More here:
 https://www.nytimes.com/1985/03/12/us/work-of-lawyers-for-mob-studied.html 

Giuliani knows that Rule 4.1 forbids a lawyer from making false statements of facts. It’s basic bar exam stuff. Does that stop him? Of course not. He works for Trump.
 https://www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/publications/model_rules_of_professional_conduct/rule_4_1_truthfulness_in_statements_to_others/ 

12/ My civil procedure professor said: "Be careful who you represent because you will become like your clients" (does NOT apply in general to good criminal defense lawyers😉)

People who know Emmet Flood are shocked that a smart lawyer seems to be staying on with Trump.

13/ Well. Flood stays quiet when Trump does things like intimidate witnesses.

“But he’s a smart lawyer!”
My response: authoritarianism & intelligence are not mutually exclusive.

Oh, and apparently Flood donated to the Trump campaign in Sept. 2016.
 https://www.law.com/nationallawjournal/2018/08/06/trump-lawyer-emmet-floods-financial-disclosure-shows-3-3m-partner-share/ 

14/ Sept. 2016 was late in the game, after the zebra had shown his stripes.

Trump (it seems to me) looks for lawyers willing to torpedo rule of law. Yes, they’re out there.

I don’t expect any fundamental changes in Trump’s character or methods.
We can expect more of the same.

15/ Trump will continue to flood the zone with lies, play to his core base, keep everyone spinning from one debacle to the next so that nobody can focus, come up with creative ways to create crises and spectacle, and hope that he can torpedo the law before it catches up to him.

16/ Will Trump succeed?

No, of course not—if we can stay focused and not wear ourselves out with the constant crisis and spectacle.

But things may get crazier before we get out of this.

All of my Twitter threads are now blog posts. You can view this one here:  https://terikanefield-blog.com/trumps-legal-defense/ 


You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.



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