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Why the FBI overrode attorney-client privilege to raid Michael Cohen’s office

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Joe Marlowe

The theme of the story is that by these investigative actions to uphold the rule of law, American democracy will be restored to robust health.
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One can only hope.
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However, only when energetic action is taken against those who undermine democratic institutions by:
enacting deceit-driven voter ID laws;
gerrymandering;
impeding voter registration;
using surreptitious browser tracking;
mis-directing voters;
ignoring the fairness standard in broadcasting;
gutting campaign finance laws;
suppressing science;
supressing freedom of speech; and
making dubious judicial nominations,
that we will fix this problem.
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Only when those things are criminal offenses will we turn the corner.
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Don't hold your breath.
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The GOP and its surrogates have spent 40 years - since Buckley v. Valeo - incrementally and relentlessly undermining democracy.
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Consider today's example:
An Ontario court sentenced a staffer of a former premier to jail. In lauding the custodial sentence (subject to appeal), The Globe and Mail writes:
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"What the sentence does, though, is send an important message. Democracies cannot function properly without public accountability, and those who deliberately undermine it deserve harsh punishment."
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True enough. There is no greater crime than to undermine the institutions of democracy.
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Strangely, though, the Globe never wrote such stirring prose about, or called for "harsh punishment" of, a former government that was up to its ears in electoral cheating - with multiple criminal convictions, too - that the Globe endorsed no less than four times.
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The Globe now encourages freedom of speech by closing its public comments. (To be fair, its main competitor, the Toronto Star has done the same, but The Globe had encouraged its readers to expect a higher standard.)
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The righteous indignation would also be more convincing if the Globe were not about to endorse a candidate who the Globe has previously found to be clearly unfit for public office.
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Yet before June 6, 2018, the Globe will do just that, in favour of a candidate who refuses to participate in public debates, who has reduced press access, and who the Globe has accused of having been a drug dealer.
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There is a recent book "How Democracies Die", by Levitsky and Ziblatt, 2018, Crown Publishing, New York, ISBN 978152462933. The Editorial Board of the Globe, and perhaps others, could do worse than to buy a copy.
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The main thesis is, roughly, that it is never, ever safe to play footsie with people who undermine democratic institutions.
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As per Levitsky and Ziblatt, trying to curtail press access, and refusing to participate in public political debates - both of which impair the core right of freedom of speech of voters to make informed choices - are notorious tell-tales of persons seeking to undermine democratic government.
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The Globe published an article:
"Globe investigation: The Ford family’s history with drug dealing" it is found at:
www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/globe-investigation-the-ford-family...
The article was written by Greg McArthur and Shannon Kari, and was published May 25, 2013, updated March 11, 2018.
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The Globe summarised:
"This investigative report reveals that:
Doug Ford, [then] Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s brother, sold hashish for several years in the 1980s.
Another brother, Randy, was also involved in the drug trade and was once charged in relation to a drug-related kidnapping.
Their sister, Kathy, has been the victim of drug-related gun violence."
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The present government of Ontario has reduced unemployment from 10% to 5%. The economy is booming. Wages are up. Inflation is low. On objective economic indicators it may be the best government Ontario has had since the 1960's.
In any other era, it could reasonably expect to be re-elected in a landslide.
But not in the era of social media smearing.
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Everybody saw Rob Ford make a farce of the Mayor's Office.
Everybody has seen what has happened since the Rob Ford clown of American politics was installed in the White House.
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The saga playing out in America is about the debasement of American democracy.
That story started long before the orange Clown ever considered running for office.
It is what happens when we fail energetically to defend the institutions of democracy.
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It is what happens when we allow partisanship to blindfold integrity.
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Notwithstanding all that of it ...
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... Before June 6, 2018, for all its righteous indignation today, the Globe and Mail will contribute, again, to the debasement of democratic institutions by endorsing for high office a man it has accused of having been a drug dealer, who the Globe itself has indicated is unfit for public office.
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It is called "being an enabler".
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That is how democracies die.

Joe Marlowe in reply to Joe Marlowe

Post script: The Globe reports today (April 21, 2018) that its comments will be back up and running by the end of April.
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We'll see. It would be churlish not to wish them well.
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At the same time the Globe took the opportunity to run a two page spread today that was essentially one big, long campaign add for the party led by the alleged drug dealer.
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If the Globe is determined to report on the provincial debt, could the Globe perhaps ever acknowledge that Ontario GDP is $600 Billion?
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Could the Globe possible note that the Ontario economy is booming, and unemployment is lower than it as been in a generation?
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Could the Globe acknowledge that the present provincial government has had better objective economic performance than any Ontario government since the 1960's?
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But gosh, why should we rely on objective economic data when we can be willing hand-maidens to the decline of respect for democratic institutions?

Joe Marlowe in reply to Joe Marlowe

... and if that weren't enough, there is the still yet further article:
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"Ontario ... leader ... says he's 'dead against' supervised-injection sites"
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"“If your son, daughter, loved one ever had an addiction, would you want them to go in a little area and do more drugs? I am dead against that,” Mr. Ford said Friday. “We have to help these people. We can’t just keep feeding them and feeding them.”
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"When pressed for details, his campaign said Mr. Ford would release his plan to address mental health and the opioid crisis in the coming weeks."
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"Mr. Ford, whose late brother Rob Ford struggled with substance abuse and admitted to using crack cocaine, made the comments in Sarnia after announcing that a Tory government would create 30,000 long-term care beds over the next 10 years to ease the burden on hospitals and cut wait times."
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- - - - - -
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Nowhere in the entire article did the Globe refer to its own previous article of May 25, 2013, updated March 11, 2018 entitled ""Globe investigation: The Ford family’s history with drug dealing" , in which the Globe identifies Doug Ford himself as a drug dealer.
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Can't imagine why anyone would think that was a pertinent omission.
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"... whose late brother Rob Ford struggled with Drug abuse..."
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What restraint. What understatement.
Did the Globe's reporter ask Doug Ford where his brother got the drugs in the first place?
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How Rob Ford came to have his drug addiction has long been an issue - perhaps an issue with which Doug Ford might be uncomfortable. Yet, miraculously, the Globe's correspondent did not apparently raise this question with Mr. Ford in its reporting today on the topic of drug abuse.
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Can't imagine why anyone would think that was a relevant question, either.
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In an article about the need to fight an epidemic of opioid addiction, The Globe did not consider that the man's own previous activities as a drug dealer were worthy of public mention - despite those accusations having come from the Globe's own investigative reporting.
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They did not even provide a link to their own previous article.
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But the Globe is so determined to endorse a man that it knows is, and has declaimed as being, unfit for public office that it cravenly, fecklessly, swallows its own previous accusations without comment - not one week after their own scathing editorial on the weather-vane malleability and complicity of Paul Ryan as an enabler of Donald Trump.
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Motes and beams, guys.
Motes and beams.
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Every professional journalist at The Globe should be ashamed.
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At least Andrea Horwath made an appropriate reply.
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The Conservative Party is about nothing other than oil.
The Oil companies didn't want Christine Elliot, because she wanted to do something about climate change, and something about public transit.
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That's why Christine Elliot was diddled out of the leadership - twice.
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The Oil companies wanted Doug Ford.
And so, the Globe will swallow its principles and its conscience just as it did four times in the Harper era.
Four times.
For the sake of oil, the Globe is prepared to forsake democracy.
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No matter how badly you think the government of Ontario is run, (and, on objective economic data, the current government has probably been the best since the 1960's) the health and survival of democratic institutions are far more important than anything else.
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But the Globe has learned nothing from the Harper experience, still less the Trump experience.

Duckdodger

Cohen, yet another Trump Chump, falls on his sword for the least loyal, most faithless mob boss in America today. No sympathy, only revulsion for this continuing parade of Trump Chumps.

Wild Rose

Whether Trump gets nailed on something or not, this story will not help the FBI regain public trust as a neutral law enforcement agency. Many will ask why wasn't the FBI busting down the doors on Hillary Clinton's lawyers or her house for gather evidence about her lies to congress (smashed cell phones and wiped hard drives, etc)? Liberals will say she has different case and different legal issues and conservatives will see it as political favoritism.

NickyGoodtimes in reply to Wild Rose

Well, REALITY has a well-known LIBERAL bias.....
And, to keep this even simpler for you: IF Hillary lied to Congress, AND with the GOP holding BOTH HOUSES AND THE ACCOMPANYING SUBPOENA POWER....why have there been NO charges?
Why has this been dropped ever so-conveniently since the election? Is it because she is some criminal mastermind, always able to stay one-step ahead of the GOP?
Or is the GOP THAT inept?
Or - most likely- maybe you're like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that does not exist?

Peace Love and Understanding

Trump will destroy the world to save himself when he is backed into a corner, if it comes to that. He will start WW3 and burn it all down. He thinks of no one but himself and cannot accept feedback from others. He lives in a perpetual state of denial of the consequences of his decisions and ownership of them.

I think he just needs a hug.

Peace Love and Understanding

Does any of this actually matter?

Are you really going to prosecute a person still supported by 40% of the country in spite of full knowledge of his gangster ways?

There is nothing Trump can do that will cause his core supporters to turn on him. They are all in on him and will go down with the ship. This is why in spite of everything that has happened his approval rating has not budged one bit.

Trump probably did a lot of what he is accused of. He is and always has been an amoral narcissist. But he has positioned himself in a way that makes resolving this through the legal system impossible if we wish to preserve the legal system or the country. If you use the legal system to get rid of him it will delegitimize the legal system for a large chunk of the country.

This must be resolved through the political system and this requires engagement, empathy, healing and listening to bridge some of the divides that are tearing our country apart.

"If you use the legal system to get rid of him it will delegitimize the legal system for a large chunk of the country. "
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Well, Boo F'ing Hoo! Just because 40% of Americans ALSO believe that dinosaurs and humans coexisted don't make that so! https://today.yougov.com/news/2015/06/18/jurassic-world/
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And what legitimacy does our legal system EVEN HAVE LEFT IF it does NOT have consequences and is resolved to merely empty threats without any repercussion for such actions??????

I agree that Trump should face consequences for his actions like everyone else and that it is also important for the integrity of our legal system that the president not be above the law.

But you'd better have an airtight case on something more than obstruction or perjury or something nebulous which has any appearance of political motive if you don't want to watch a large bulk of the country cannibalize its own rule of law. Just a suggestion.

Duckdodger

This was not an attack on our country, it was an attack on Cohen and Trump. This was not disgraceful, it is Trump who is disgraceful and has been his entire career. Every attack Trump makes can be applied to himself much more accurately, almost as if he knows that and is daring anyone to say “Takes one to know one”! And so, this is not about firing Mueller, this is about firing Donald Trump. Any GOP left with the cajones to take that up?

guest-aanwmjam

This is great news! Hillary and others of her ilk won't have anything to worry about when the IG report hits. After all her lawyers were never involved in covering up crimes or helping her to skirt the law or commit fraud, right? I mean there's a really high bar for ignoring attorney client privilege. The crime fraud exclusion provisions are really tight right?
And really what's the big deal about adding a taint team to a lawyers office. It's like a free service. It's not like any of them combing through any legal documents or the ones executing the warrant are wearing google glasses or some such right? Legal documents held by a taint team are so secure even you and your lawyer can't get easy access to them. What's to worry about?

dcp123 in reply to guest-aanwmjam

Hillary is mostly helped by the fact that there are no credible criminal allegations against her. Her use of a private e-mail server was apparently technically illegal, but was a common practice and there is no evidence of criminal intent or release of secrets. Republican prosecutors who investigates theatter found no evidence of a chargeable crime.
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The other accusations against her (sex slave ring, the murder of Vince Foster, conspiracy with terrorists to murder US diplomats (because?), Etc.) are lies and fantasies.

ashbird

Reply to commenter @ jouris [my reply button is still nonfunctional],
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jouris, I find this a very very helpful article on explaining how the attorney-client privilege works, in particular the application in this instance. https://www.lawfareblog.com/michael-cohen-attorney-client-privilege-and-.... Read it. I need not repeat any of the points it clarifies here.
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Our system is a system of law. The insinuation to Russia confabulates front, back, head tail of the issue. It is profoundly sad to witness this is the quality of our democracy under Trump’s leadership - unabashed ignorance spoken with pride by both the leader and his supporters.
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A related remark - Sessions knew something when he recused himself on all the mess associated with the wheelings and ealings of his "chief" (lawyers, judges and attorneys do not “recuse” themselves for no reason); that was the one right thing he did, for which, as we all know, he was chewed up by his king-size ignoramus for a chief. Democracy can only be as good as the quality of the knowledge base of its voters. An apt Russian analogy to the present situation would go the exact opposite direction - if this were Russia, a few people not supporting the chief would long have been done in - physically. Be happy, the chief can fool some of the people some of time, not all the people all of the time. I have said America is full of smart people, and righteous people (Mueller is one) ....... they are now coming out to literally save the country from a Titanic end. America needs to educate its citizenry in all areas of knowledge. Its voters is its own enemy at the present moment.

jouris in reply to ashbird

My sense is that Sessions (properly!) recused himself because he was one of those who had spoken with Russian government persons. It isn't really necessary that he knew anything about any other people's interactions. He still would have needed to step back.
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I dare to hop that we will, eventually, get to the bottom of things. From Trump's past track record, it seems far more likely than not that this will entail finding out about a lot of bad actions on his part and on his behalf and under his orders. Possible including some of Cohen's. We will never get rid of all the close-minded individuals who will refuse to accept the truth that is uncovered. But I dare to hope that even a lot of those who are extremely reluctant will eventually accept the reality of what happened.

dcp123 in reply to jouris

Sessions recused himself because of his Russian contacts, his perjury about those contacts, and probably also because he likely assisted in the obstruction of Justice with regard to Flynn.
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It's hard to impartially manage an investigation when you're one of the conspirators.

dcp123 in reply to jouris

Sessions recused himself because of his Russian contacts, his perjury about those contacts, and probably also because he likely assisted in the obstruction of Justice with regard to Flynn.
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It's hard to impartially manage an investigation when you're one of the conspirators.

PamSkeen

I see that we've moved on from Russia

jouris in reply to PamSkeen

Depends on how you define "we". Mueller is still looking at Russia. Which is why Cohen is being investigated by the US Attorney for New York, not by Mueller.
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At the moment, there's no reason to assume that whatever Mr Cohen has done is even related to Mr Trump's campaign (or Presidency). For that matter, it is possible that Mr Trump isn't even involved in whatever criminal activity Mr Cohen engaged in. Not, admittedly, a high probability based on past behavior, but still no information in public yet to assume it.

NickyGoodtimes in reply to jouris

"At the moment, there's no reason to assume that whatever Mr Cohen has done is even related to Mr Trump's campaign (or Presidency"
I believe recent reports- literally in the last 30 mins- are now noting from multiple sources that the FBI was seeking records SPECIFIC to his payments/NDA with Karen McDougal, the Playboy Playmate who also received the 'Stormy' treatment during the 2016 campaign.
Regarding Trump, well- the only thing worse than having YOUR offices raided by the Feds is having YOUR LAWYER'S OFFICE raided by the Feds.

jouris in reply to NickyGoodtimes

Well, if it is true as Trump (and Cohen) has said that he had no knowledge of the payment, then Mr Cohen could be guilty of various crimes without Trump being involved. (And, be it noted, if Cohen didn't communicate with Trump and act as his attorney in this, the lawyer-client doesn't apply.)
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What is really interesting is that the Feds were apparently able to make a sufficiently solid case for evidence of a crime being present to get a judge to sign off on a warrant. Considering how high the bar is to get a search warrant for a lawyer's office, they must have some pretty damning stuff already.
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Actually, the worst thing is having a raid on the office of someone who keeps extensive records. Which Cohen may well be.

sikko6

Donald Trump should go to ICC jail for murdering Syrians. He doesn't deserve Nobel Peace Prize even if he makes deal with North Korea. Muller will indict him for obstruction of justice.

dcp123 in reply to sikko6

Where should Assad go? He's murdered hundreds of thousands of Syrians, mostly by deliberately and illegally targeting civilians.
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I despise Trump, but a few dozen or a few hundred killed in attacks directed towards military targets just doesn't compare to Assad's record of butchery, even if you assume that some of those strikes could and should have been more carefully targeted.

guest-lnwneai

Politically motivated investigation of Trump by hand picked Trump appointees and other lifelong Republicans! Do Democrats have no shame?

dcp123 in reply to guest-lnwneai

That's what's so diabolically sneaky about this Democratic Party conspiracy. It was also pretty crafty of them to get Trump to say all the self-incriminating things he's said and to contradict himself so often. That makes it hard to remember what a totally innocent victim he is of this witch hunt.