There is indeed a lawyer/client privilege, but it doesn’t really apply when the lawyer is the one breaking the law.
Trump’s attorney was the subject of a search warrant last night, and Trump immediately called it a “Democratic witch hunt.” Just to put things in perspective:
Republican Mueller, who was appointed by a Republican and approved by a Republican Congress, got a Republican FBI lawyer appointed by Trump to approve a warrant that was signed by a Republican judge.
Clearly a Democratic witch hunt.
But let’s discuss that warrant. Searching a lawyer’s office is much harder than searching anywhere else because of the risks of breaking into that lawyer/client privilege. Therefore, in order to get that warrant, you have these requirements (according to the Washington Post):
- Before obtaining a search warrant, investigators had to try to obtain the evidence in another way, such as by subpoena.
- The authorization for the warrant had to come from either the U.S. attorney or an assistant attorney general. (Rosenstein is deputy attorney general, a higher position than assistant attorney general.)
- The prosecutor had to confer with the criminal division of the department before seeking the warrant.
- The team conducting the search had to “employ adequate precautions” to ensure that they weren’t improperly viewing privileged communications between Cohen and his clients.
- The search team would have included a “privilege team,” including lawyers and agents not working the case, which would work to ensure that investigators conducting the search didn’t see privileged communications.
- The investigators had to develop a review process for the seized material
So here we go. Pass the popcorn.