Guilty. Appealing. Talking. Referred for contempt.
This week, Josh Barro and Ken White catch up on a few familiar characters and tie up some loose threads.
Lev Parnas, former associate of Rudy Giuliani: convicted of six counts of charges related to funneling and concealing political contributions. There was speculation about whether Parnas himself would take the stand — Ken talks about when that’s a good idea and when that’s very much not a good idea.
Michael Avenatti: still a free man for now, but indicted on four sets of trials, and one of them ended in a mistrial several weeks ago. The government failed to disclose some evidence and now Avenatti is entitled to a new trial with that new evidence. But Avenatti is making a double jeopardy claim: that he has a constitutional right not to be tried twice. This is a thin argument — Avenatti may be working another strategy — and long story short, the Ninth Circuit agreed to a expedited briefing schedule.
John Eastman, lawyer and author of the now-infamous (at least to our listeners) Eastman memo laying out how Vice President Mike Pence could maneuver to keep Trump in office: sitting for extended interviews about the circumstances of that memo and whether it reflected his views. Was he acting as a lawyer in those moments? And would that be a shield for him?
Steve Bannon, former Trump adviser and pardon recipient: held in criminal contempt by the House of Representatives and referred to the Department of Justice. What does that mean? And is it a boatload of work for the DC U.S. Attorney’s office, which has its proverbial hands full with January 6 prosecutions?
Testing the boundaries of executive privilege
Former President Trump has sued the National Archives and the chairman of the January 6 investigating committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson, to try to prevent the disclosure of White House papers, records and communications up to and during the riot. He’s asserting executive privilege. What does that mean again? Where does the idea of executive privilege come from, and how are the interests weighed in a situation like this? And then...does a former president have a strong executive privilege claim? That’s a not-very-well-explored question.
Trump is also instructing former advisers, including Steve Bannon, not to comply with subpoenas from the committee. Bannon hasn’t been complying and so the committee voted to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress. Does that mean the Sergeant at Arms has a job to do? (Not just yet.)
Plus: President Trump is deposed for more than four hours, New York’s new anti-SLAPP law and the Summer Zervos lawsuit, Lev Parnas’s ongoing trial, and Congressman Fortenberry is indicted.
Is a plea bargain a good deal?
This is a special episode of All the Presidents’ Lawyers with Carissa Byrne Hessick, professor of law at the University of North Carolina. As we’ve discussed previously on the show, some federal judges have been wondering (sometimes aloud, in their courtrooms) whether the Capitol Riot defendants are getting off too easy. More than six hundred people have been charged so far — a few with felonies and most with misdemeanor charges. Of those charged, about one hundred people have accepted a plea bargain. There are a lot of reasons why plea bargains are part of the American justice system, but is plea bargaining good? With how overwhelmed D.C. courts are, how are prosecutors thinking about getting defendants to just plead guilty? And what’s the political messaging behind these cases? Carissa Byrne Hessick says plea bargaining is a bad deal and she’s here to talk about it.
What is a state actor?
Former President Donald Trump has sued Twitter trying to get back on the platform. His suit says Twitter violated his First Amendment rights and that they broke a new Florida law that purports to prohibit social media companies from being banned in a manner inconsistent with the companies’ internal policies. The thing is, the First Amendment applies to the government restricting free speech and Trump’s theory is that Twitter is a state actor. When would a private entity be considered a state actor? Is there a case to be made that Dominion Voting Systems is a state actor? One group of people thinks so, and they’ve filed a new class action lawsuit against Dominion Voting Systems that says the cease and desist letters the company sent them after the 2020 elections are RICO. Ken, is it RICO?!
Plus: a detailed report on whether Trump is really at risk of state charges in Georgia, Matt Gaetz’s legal team, Dan Scavino evades a subpoena from a congressional committee.
Trump Derangement Syndrome with David Lat
What is ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’? It’s a condition that afflicts conservatives and liberals alike – and lawyers in particular. This week, Ken White and special guest David Lat discuss the attorneys that, uh, have gone astray defending Donald Trump.
Ken White and special guest David Lat discuss Jeffrey Clark, who tried to oust fellow Jeffrey (Rosen) as acting attorney general and get Georgia to change its election results. John Eastman, a respected attorney and former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is now under fire for a memo he wrote outlining six steps for handing the presidency back to Donald Trump. Perhaps two of the most public examples of what David calls TDS are that of Rudy Giuliani, once the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and “America’s mayor,” and Sidney Powell, a top law school graduate and respected appellate attorney, who is now most known for representing Michael Flynn, legal challenges of the 2020 election, and being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems.