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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Are There Ethics Out There?

For John, BLUFIf this information might be protected by attorney client privilege, why is it in the newspapers?  I would hope that someone is asking why this is out there.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The Boston Globe, but really from The Old Gray Lady, by Reporters Matt Apuzzo and Maggie Haberman, 21 JULY 2018.

Here is the lede plus one:

President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments to a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Trump, according to lawyers and others familiar with the recording.

The FBI seized the recording this year during a raid on Cohen’s office.  The Justice Department is investigating Cohen’s involvement in paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Trump before the 2016 election.  Prosecutors want to know whether that violated federal campaign finance laws, and any conversation with Trump about those payments would be of keen interest to them.

An article 22 paragraphs long and only at the fourth to the bottom paragraph do we get to the issue of if the contents of the recording is "protected by attorney-client privilege".  Nowhere is there a discussion of if the taping was even legal.  Wasn't there a case determined by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court turned, in part, on a law that said it was illegal to record a conversation if one side was unaware?

So, here is the question.  If it is illegal for me to record you, why is it ethical for the Press to then disclose the gist of the conversation to the public?  Or the Government to leak the information.

I get freedom of the Press, but this seems to creat a perverse incentive for folks to rope in (leak to) the Press in order to get out there information they see as damaging to someone they are working against.  It seems unethical at several levels.

Regards  —  Cliff

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