TPM Reader DV wrote in this morning with what I have to say is a completely obvious point that totally eluded me. There are twenty different ways Michael Cohen’s apparent shakedown of various Fortune 500 companies is sleazy. There are a handful of ways it might break the law. But there’s another pretty big problem I at least haven’t seen explicitly mentioned.
Michael Cohen is the President’s personal lawyer. He says this. The President says this. It was apparently the premise of his pitch to AT&T and Novartis. But even the most generous reading says that Cohen was offering insights into how Trump thinks, his approach to policy issues, etc. Now in theory you might say a lawyer has to keep his client’s legal confidences. That doesn’t mean he can’t discuss the client’s general political views or how he thinks about things in general. But it seems almost impossible for me to imagine that distinction, especially when you are selling the knowledge rather than discussing it informally, could possibly pass any legal ethics muster.
Of course, in practice Cohen’s Trump’s bagman and bagmen gonna bag. But again, in theory at least, Cohen is Trump’s longtime lawyer, first in a corporate capacity and then as a personal lawyer. He is offering to sell his clients his insights into the man and his ideas gained through that relationship. And he isn’t his former lawyer. He is his current lawyer.
That is simply nuts.