Speculation and Manafort’s Change of Lawyers

I want to draw your attention to the some specific language in the Politico story on Paul Manafort’s change of lawyers, quoting a Manafort spokesman (see especially my bold language):

A spokesman confirmed the change. “Mr. Manafort is in the process of retaining his former counsel, Miller & Chevalier, to represent him in the office of special counsel investigation. As of today, WilmerHale no longer represents Mr. Manafort,” Jason Maloni said in a statement.

Now I have absolutely no factual knowledge of the situation.

However, I can not help but notice this.  Apparently, the process of moving back representation to prior counsel was not, at least at the time of the statement, complete.  But, “as of today,” WilmerHale is out of the picture, and apparently it has become important that this is made clear immediately.

Now all the media coverage has focused on the possibility that this change reflects realization of the newly serious situation Manafort faces.  But what strikes me is the apparent speed and finality of the change — so fast that the statement is issued before the retaining of new counsel is complete.  This is in direct contrast to changes made in representation of others caught up in this scandal.  Of course, in a fast moving case, in which the prosecutor has already  shown a willinness to push hard, going even an hour without a lawyer can be very risky.

As a totally general matter, it is an open secret among lawyers that “getting off a case,” is often triggered by disagreement about testimony, or representations made by counsel to legal bodies. Sometimes this can be related to prior testimony or such representations.  More specifically often the problem is the reluctance of counsel to become embroiled in knowing (emphasis added) that testimony is false.  (One might speculate that in such situations, timing can be of the essence.)

Regardless of whether any of my speculation is accurate, you can be sure that Mueller’s staff are already going through everything they have to try to figure out where any problem might be, and to then adjust their strategy.

Not good news for any of those potentially implicated.

Note:  This post appeared initially in my access to justice blog.

 

Future Needs For Federal Agency Outstations

Yesterday, we talked about the Secret Service’s lesser urgency for a close-in outpost in Trump Tower.

Today, much less humorously, it is beginning to look like the DOJ crackdown on the media will mean that Federal Bureau of Prisons will need outstations at the New York Times and the Washington Post.

If history is any guide, that need will decline quickly.  Rather there will soon be need for a huge Bureau of Prisons outstation at Trump Tower.  While the space vacated by the Secret Service will presumably be available, I doubt it will be large enough.

 

What Goes Around, Comes Around, Trump Edition

Today, we hear that the Secret Service has moved its Trump Tower Command Center out of the Tower itself, apparently because of contract disputes.

While it is possible that the real motives were understandably aesthetic, could it be that someone at the Secret Service read that Government employees charged with protecting those in their care have been told not to be too careful , “Don’t be too nice.  .  .  .  I said, ‘You could take the hand away, OK,’”  In other words, do not do your job, or follow your oath.

Did the Secret Service decide not to be “too nice” too?

Almost impossible to imagine.