28 March 2017

"Document Laundering"

Once upon a time I was involved in a case in which the following series of events occurred:

1. My client, in response to a government agency subpoena, produced a load of documents covered by a Confidentiality provision. Accordingly, we had stamped all produced documents "Confidential."
2. A plaintiff, (whom I shall call, for these purposes, "Mr. Green,") then sued my client for millions of dollars, claiming a violation of the antitrust laws.

3. Mr. Green thought he could advance his cause by getting illicit access to the confidential documents. So he corrupted the Agency lawyer handling the case, and the two of them hatched upon a scheme to effectively delete the "Confidential" label on the documents and to substitute newly "cleaned" versions of them. 

4. Mr. Green then had the chutzpah to file a Freedom of Information demand upon the Agency to produce the now-non-confidential documents! 

5. We flushed out the facts via a vigorous discovery program. At a court hearing, the District Judge, upon learning the facts, referred to Green's conduct as "Document Laundering," and wondered aloud whether he ought refer the matter to U.S. Attorney for prosecution.

6. The result was that Green's multi-million dollar suit against my client was dismissed and Mr. Green paid my client's legal fees. The Agency lawyer, who had quit his government job to go to work as Green's General Counsel, didn't hold that job very long because he was promptly disbarred.

Why does that case come to mind? Because current events spur the recollection, that's why.  This is the sequence of current events as I understand them: 

1. The President of the United States published a series of tweets one morning between 3 and 6 ayem alleging the former POTUS  "a bad (sick?) guy" tapped his phone! Despite an avalanche of criticism from both supporters and adversaries, President Trump not only refused to withdraw the accusation, but doubled down on it.

2. There was a huge flap. At the urging of Republican legislators, the Republican chaired "non-partisan" House Intelligence Committee, which was gearing up to investigate the Russian interference with the U.S. elections, decided also to look into the question of whether Republican candidate Trump had been wiretapped by the President Obama!

3. At a hearing before the House Committee, the heads of the FBI, NSA, and CIA, all swore that Trump was not wiretapped, and thereafter, Mr. Nunes, the Republican Chair of the Committee, publicly declared that "no evidence" exists to support President Trump's claim.

4. A day later, Mr. Nunes gets a call while he is a car with two of his aides. He listens, and then without explanation, abandons his colleagues, calls an Uber, and rushes alone to the White House, where he meets with an unnamed source in a "secure facility," is shown some document or other evidence, goes home,  and tells nobody, not even his Committee colleagues.

5. The next day, Nunes rushes back to the White House to inform the President of what Nunes learned at yesterday's visit to the White House, i.e., he has seen some evidence that could arguably support the the President's delusional tweets.

6. Representative Nunes then tells the press what he told the President, and Mr. Trump publicly declares he feels "somewhat vindicated."

7. (It appears the "breaking news" was that in legally listening to the Russians, U. S. intelligence agencies picked up "incidental conversations" with one or more of Trump's people. How that helps Mr. Trump is beyond my imagination!)

8. Representative Nunes refuses to give any details re his first White House visit, refuses to explain why that White House source gave the information to Nunes instead of telling the President directly.  Why go through the sequence of White House source to Nunes, then Nunes to Trump, and then Nunes reporting to the press what he told Trump? I can guess.  (Hint: Check out the title of this post.

9. Oh, yeah, Nunes did all of this secretly. Prior to informing the President, Nunes had not shared any of this information with either the Democrats or the Republicans on his committee. Not to worry, he says he is sorry.

  A vote please, readers:

1. Most important, whose idea was this?

2. With whom did Nunes meet?

3. Who in the White House knew of this
a) before, b) during, and c) after the first Nunes/White House meeting?

4. Will Nunes resign his chairmanship?

5. Will Ryan force him out?

6. Are the Russians the big winners here because of the distraction?

7. Will this, in one way or another backfire and hurt the Trump administration? (I can think of several scenarios.) 

8. If you had read this in a Connelly or Grisham novel, would you have written an Amazon review giving the book only one or two stars because the plot was not believable?

9.  Really, have you EVER?

I will have Price Waterhouse tabulate your votes, put them in a secure envelope, and Fedex it to me here in St. Barths, where, btw,  President Bruno Magras has been reelected to a precedent-making fourth term. The major issue in the campaign was whether the former Vicar of the Anglican Church, who had purchased the Toiny Hotel on the east end of the island, violated either legal or ethical principles by adding sand to a hitherto unused beach, placing tables and chairs on the sand, and serving lunch there.

A bientot!

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