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Trump needs a lawyer

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If President Donald Trump wants to protect his own interests as the FBI and Congress move forward with investigations of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, he should hire a private lawyer to advise him, according to six lawyers with experience in the sort of mushrooming Washington probes that have enveloped Trump.

The president might suffer political fallout from bringing in his own lawyer, these experts said, but President Trump should be receiving advice from a lawyer who represents him, not the White House.

White House counsel represent the institution of the presidency, not Donald Trump himself, much as corporate general counsel represent their company and not CEOs.

Moreover, under legal precedent from the investigation of President Bill Clinton, President Trump’s communications with White House lawyers may not be shielded by attorney-client privilege. Only an attorney working for Trump can give the president unvarnished, unconflicted advice without fear it will become public.

Lawyers said the president needs his own counsel regardless of whether he is facing potential criminal liability for his responses to the Russia investigation.

On Tuesday, the New York Times broke the news that fired FBI director James Comey supposedly memorialized a conversation in which President Trump asked him to shut down the FBI’s investigation of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Reuters independently confirmed the Times account.

Democratic lawmakers have said the president’s reported conduct raised questions about whether Trump was attempting to obstruct justice.

On Tuesday night and Wednesday, House and Senate committees issued demands to the White House and the FBI for documents related to communications between the bureau and President Trump, including memos written by former director Comey.


“The President is in dire need of a criminal defense lawyer and a congressional investigations lawyer immediately,” said former prosecutor Kirby Behre of Miller & Chevalier in an email. Behre and other lawyers said an experienced adviser would begin by explaining the legal consequences of President Trump’s freewheeling statements and tweets.

“He is flunking all the rules of crisis management,” said a Washington lawyer involved in several White House investigations who spoke anonymously. “He needs a sophisticated lawyer who has dealt with cases at the intersection of criminal law and politics.”

White House lawyers have a duty to protect the interests of the presidency even when those interests diverge from the president’s individual concerns, said Savannah Law School professor Andy Wright, a former associate counsel to President Obama.

So, for instance, White House lawyers might be reluctant to defend direct communications between the president and Justice Department officials about an ongoing investigation. Previous presidential administrations have strongly discouraged such communications for fear of tainting federal........

© Japan Today