We don’t know all the reasons and circumstances for the FBI search of Cohen’s office and home. News reports suggest that the focus is on Cohen’s payments to two women, adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to suppress their stories of affairs with Donald Trump, and that these payments may have been illegal. But what is clear is that prosecutors had to overcome high hurdles to obtain the search warrant. That the warrant was issued is not a sign that the attorney-client privilege is dead. It is, on the contrary, a sign that the rule of law is alive.
Essentially, the ACLU takes the position that if two government workers (prosecutor plus judge) can agree to dislike an individual then the government can send in the FBI (not too busy thanks to hanging up on anyone offering school shooter tips, Tsarnaev brother tips, 9/11 hijacker tips, etc.) to raid the individual’s lawyer’s office.
Separately, the particular “crime” that the ACLU thinks justifies sending out the FBI on a hunting expedition, was a purported exchange of cash for sex. Back in 2014, however, the ACLU published an article saying that this kind of exchange should not be a crime:
The ACLU position holds that laws against prostitution violate “the right of individual privacy because they impose penal sanctions for the private sexual conduct of consenting adults, …
The myriad federal, state and local laws against prostitution mean that “rights for sex workers” will require more than decriminalizing sex for money or other consideration.
Sex workers are human beings with the right to self-determination. It’s time for policymakers, the courts and law enforcement to recognize they are equally deserving of the civil rights, civil liberties, and above all human rights accorded to the rest of us.
I guess there is a potentially nuanced position here. The ACLU is not objecting to whatever Ms. Daniels and Ms. McDougal might have received in exchange for having sex with an old guy 12 years ago, but they are objecting to Ms. Daniels and Ms. McDougal being paid not to talk about their supposed sexual transactions. But why? If the ACLU promotes freedom to speak, why wouldn’t they also support the freedom to profit from not speaking? And if the ACLU supports prostitution, why wouldn’t the ACLU also support prostitution with an extra fee for discretion? If the only way for an elderly American to hire a prostitute is with the understanding that the prostitute will then post a YouTube video of the encounter and/or go on TV to talk about the transaction, doesn’t that reduce demand for prostitution, an infringement of prostitutes’ economic rights?
- From an old-style ACLU member, Harvey Silverglate: “Going After Trump’s Lawyer Michael Cohen: When Pursuit Becomes A Blood Sport” (WBGH)