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Seizure of Cohen Records Akin to Salem Witch Trials, McCarthyism

[caption id="attachment_27305" align="alignnone" width="620"] Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower on Jan. 12, 2017. [Photo: John Taggart/Bloomberg][/caption]  Lawyers better wake up! On Monday, the FBI raided offices of Michael Cohen, Esq. to get the lawyer’s records, all his client records, business records, memos to the file, etc. Whether you like Donald Trump, don’t like Donald Trump, or are indifferent to Trump, what happened yesterday is appalling. As working lawyers, most of us have within our files our own memos dealing with information on the private lives of husbands, wives, messy family disputes, with all kinds of claims and cross claims, in criminal; cases of defendants (guilty and innocent), corporate people (naughty and nice), etc. Everyone has a right to counsel and to exercise their attorney-client privilege, and everyone has a right to be honestly and ethically defended without being concerned for the violation of their attorney-client privilege. See Upjohn Co. v. United States, 449 U.S. 383, 389 (1981). The copout seems to be that other federal investigators go through the files primarily creating a “wall” and then give only those relevant materials to their colleagues, who undoubtedly they will then have lunch with (certainly, Donald Trump will create a better wall than this). Let us not suspend common sense. Nobody elected any of these prosecutors. The chief federal prosecutor looks like a cross between Woody Allen and the kid who the playground bully knocked around. All of us at some point in life need to stop compensating and get on with our lives and not prove that his is bigger than anyone else’s, even if it is not. I speak not only as a private lawyer whose files I would lay across and die before anyone could get them and know what clients told me, in the naïve belief that they are privileged. Having voted for him or not, we have a democratically elected president. Should a handful of prosecutors be allowed to override the will of the people? Do we want a bunch of prosecutors running our country? That did not seem to work in the Salem Witch trials, the McCarthyism inquisitions nor for Mr. Robespierre. And all of these draconian actions of investigators are for what? Chasing after adults who had a consensual relationship and his lawyer who is also his friend for writing a check. The only assault on our democracy seems to be from a by now desperate special counsel chasing vague shadows who should be gone. It is a disgrace, and, by the way, I am a registered independent and am a former federal prosecutor.

Raoul Felder
Former Chairman of the New York State
Commission on Judicial Conduct and Practicing Attorney