President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani may be in trouble. The former New York City mayor, who is adept at sticking his foot in his mouth, may have finally done some things that could lead to him being charged with obstruction of justice. He also may end up being called as a witness in the special counsel’s probe into collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
According to legal experts, Giuliani may have gone too far in his dealings with Paul Manafort’s legal team.
Yesterday Giuliani disclosed that lawyers for Trump and Manafort were “often” in contact even after the president’s indicted former campaign manager signed a plea deal with special counsel Bob Mueller.
Giuliani said that Manafort gave permission to his lawyers to brief Trump’s attorneys on what Mueller prosecutors were asking him. This of course gave Trump’s legal team extremely valuable insights into what the special counsel was planning to do, and what evidence he had. This could have provided substantial help as Trump’s lawyers prepared to fight any possible charges that might be levied against him by the special counsel.
Shanlon Wu, the former attorney to Rick Gates, Manafort’s indicted business associate, said Wednesday night on CNN:
“This whole odd joint defense agreement between Manafort and the Trump lawyers, that’s a very reckless thing to do. I mean, you just don’t do that when someone’s cooperating.”
“And the most intriguing aspect of that is, that could convert the lawyers into witnesses. If Trump’s team is telling Manafort, ‘Hey, don’t say this, ease up on that, say something else,’ that is obstruction and they could end up having to testify about that.”
Wu added that the situation would “essentially pierce” the attorney-client privilege and force attorneys to possibly testify against their clients after being called as witnesses.
Last summer Manafort was convicted of multiple counts of fraud, and is still waiting for sentencing. He faces other charges also, such as conspiracy against the U.S. by acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government. By entering into a plea deal Manafort avoided a second trial on these additional charges.
Both Mueller and Manafort’s lawyer have asked the judge for his sentencing to now be brought forward as soon as possible.
There has been a great deal of speculation that Manafort is hopeful of a pardon by President Trump, and that is why he tried to sabotage Mueller’s investigation by withholding key information and misleading investigators.
If that is true, and Trump’s legal team are involved in any such attempt to thwart Mueller, they could face obstruction of justice charges — including Giuliani.
“They could also convert to defendants themselves … maybe Giuliani,” said CNN legal analyst Laura Coates.
“I don’t know what he’s done. No one really does. But the idea of somebody who’s not the president of the United States maybe dangling a carrot, and influencing, or trying to impede, an investigation — well, that actually could be something that you could go under.
“The jury’s still out on that but it’s a possibility.”
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.