ACLU Celebrates Raid on Trump’s Lawyer: ‘The Rule of Law is Alive’

An activist holds a placard during the People's March on Washington infront of the White House on January 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has published an article celebrating the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s personal lawyer as a victory for the rule of law — not a violation of attorney-client privilege and the president’s constitutional rights.

Earlier this week, the FBI raided attorney Michael Cohen’s office, apartment, and hotel room, seizing materials that included communications from Trump to his lawyer. The government typically cannot have access to those communications. In cases where it is necessary to study such communications, the FBI establishes a supposedly independent “taint team” that sifts through the material and, theoretically, only passes on evidence to prosecutors that does not violate attorney-client privilege.

However, critics allege that there is great potential for abuse, especially in a politically-charged case like this. They point out that such raids on attorneys are very rare, and argue that the president’s Fourth Amendment right to privacy, Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and Sixth Amendment right to counsel have been compromised.

Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, one of the country’s foremost defense lawyers and a civil libertarian who supported Hillary Clinton for president, condemned the raid.

“If this were Hillary Clinton being investigated and they went into her lawyer’s office, the ACLU would be on every television station in America jumping up and down,” he told Fox News this week.

However, the ACLU not only condones the raid on Trump’s; it is applauding it.

ACLU legal director David Cole wrote on the organization’s website:

The ACLU is the nation’s premier defender of privacy, and we’ve long maintained that the right of every American to speak freely to his or her attorney is essential to the legal system. These rights are protected by the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments, and we are second to none in defending them — often for people with whom we fundamentally disagree.

But we also believe in the rule of law as an essential foundation for civil liberties and civil rights. And perhaps the first principle of the rule of law is that no one — not even the president, let alone his lawyer — is above the law.  And no one, not even the president, can exploit the attorney-client privilege to engage in crime or fraud.

The attorney-client privilege has always included a “crime-fraud exception,” which provides that if you are using the attorney-client relationship to perpetrate a crime, there is no privilege.

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.

Notably, Cole did not mention the requirement that search warrants only be issued upon a finding of probable cause. In addition, the government apparently did not exhaust other means of obtaining the same information from Cohen that it seized in the raid.


Florida Man Accused of Killing Pregnant Wife Then Taking Photos of Her Naked, Dead Body

A Florida man has been arrested and accused of murdering his pregnant wife then taking gruesome photos of her naked, dead body.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Department arrested 47-year-old Vincent Terry and charged him with murdering his wife, Chrystal Terry, 41, who was 20 weeks pregnant, the New York Post reported.

The Sheriff’s office reported that Chrystal Terry had not been seen since December 21. The suspect reportedly told officials that his wife left home at 9:30 PM on the 21st leaving behind all her personal belongings — including her cell phone, medication, and purse.

Terry then said that his missing wife texted a friend saying, “Will u plz come pick me up. 911.” A second text reportedly read, “I’ll do anything. I need u plz.”

But when police became involved, shocking photos of the woman’s dead body were discovered on the suspect’s phone.

Police report that the woman “appeared to be deceased” in the photos and was seen naked and bloodied. The photos showed severe facial trauma and a gunshot wound to the abdomen, police said.

Forensics experts noted that the floors in the couple’s home had been cleaned with bleach but the team still found some tiny blood spattering on a living room wall. However, the missing woman’s body has not yet been found.

Several firearms were recovered from the home, and police pointed out that as a convicted felon, Terry is not allowed to own firearms.

Records show that Terry was arrested in Colorado on suspicion of attempting to kill his wife, but the charges were dropped when Chrystal refused to press charges.

Based on the evidence found by the forensics team and the photos on his cell phone, police charged Terry with a series of counts including second-degree murder. He is being held without bail at the Marion County jail.


Doctor Convicted of Sexually Abusing Teen to Be Released from Prison After Four Months

A former doctor and Boy Scout leader in Missouri who was convicted of sexually abusing a teenager will be released from prison Tuesday after serving four months behind bars.

Joseph Mackey, 45, who had been sentenced to five years in prison in November after being convicted of statutory sodomy, is expected to be released on probation March 6 after completing a 120-day sex offender program in prison, the Kansas City Star reported.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Marco Roldan ordered Mackey’s release after a sex offender program evaluator “hesitantly” recommended that he serve probation.

Mackey admitted to authorities that he sexually abused the teen — whom he knew through scouting activities and as a patient, KCTV reported.

Prosecutors sought to charge Mackey with up to eight counts of second-degree statutory sodomy after he turned himself into authorities in 2015, but the victim said he would accept a guilty plea from his abuser on just one of the counts.

At his perpetrator’s sentencing hearing in November, the victim read a statement in court calling Mackey an “extremely dangerous” man, suggesting that he be locked up “for as long as possible.”

Mike Mansur, a spokesman for the Jackson County prosecutor’s office, said that Mackey’s early release is “not uncommon,” but added that such decisions sometimes cause an outcry from members of the public.

Under the current conditions of Mackey’s probation, he would not be allowed to live or have unsupervised contact with any minors and would have to enter and successfully complete a sex offender treatment program.


Police: Well-Known Illinois Professor Kills Two Sons, Self in Murder-Suicide

A nationally renowned political science professor best known for his writings on presidential pardons has allegedly shot and killed his two young sons before turning the gun on himself in a suspected double murder suicide.

Police in Winnebago County, Illinois, reported finding the bodies of three people in the home of well-known political science professor and TV commentator P.S. Ruckman, Jr.

It appears that Ruckman killed his two young sons and then turned the gun on himself, police say.

Officers went to the home after Ruckman’s ex-wife called for a welfare check because she had not heard anything from Ruckman or her sons for several days, according to the Daily Mail.

The couple divorced last August and had been sharing custody of their two boys, both of whom are reportedly in high school.

Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Chief Mike Schultz reported that Ruckman’s ex-wife met officers at the home and they entered with a key she provided. They then found the three residents dead from gunshot wounds in different bedrooms of the house.

The 58-year-old Ruckman is a political science professor at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois, and is also an instructor at Northern Illinois University in nearby DeKalb. He is the editor of a political blog named, a website detailing the history of presidential pardons. He is the author of the book The Pardon Power in the 21st Century. He is also the author of two others, both of which are forthcoming: Pardon Me, Mr. President: Adventures in Crime, Politics, and Mercy and Guilty No More with co-author George Lardner.

Ruckman was also a frequent guest on cable news programs including MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show and the Russia Today cable news network. Ruckman also made various Public Broadcasting appearances. In addition, he was quoted in newspapers such as the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times as well as Politico and even the PBS show History Detectives.


New York City Reaches $180,000 Settlement with Three Muslim Women over Hijab Lawsuit

New York City has reached a $180,000 settlement with three Muslim women after they sued the NYPD for forcing them to remove their hijabs for mugshots.

The lawsuits, which sought to change the NYPD’s policy on Muslim women refusing to wear their head coverings in mugshot photos, were settled in Brooklyn federal court Monday, the New York Daily News reported.

Each woman received a $60,000 settlement.

The cases, dating back to 2012, began when a Brooklyn teen only known as “G.E.” was arrested for getting into a fight with two girls.

When NYPD officers brought her to the 62nd precinct, they instructed her to remove her headscarf. The teen refused the officers’ orders, and was taken to a private room where a female officer took her photo separate from the men.

After being taken to a Brooklyn jail for booking, officers informed her that they could not accommodate her request because no female officers could take the photo and the camera was in a fixed spot.

The teen claimed that she felt “exposed, violated, and distraught” after a male officer took her mugshot photo of her without her hijab while officers and prisoners watched.

The NYPD issued an order that changed its policy on people who refused to remove their headscarves in March 2015. The resulting policy change required officers to inform people that the NYPD provides the option of taking booking photos in a private room with an officer of the same gender.

In Islam, it is considered sacrilegious to remove the headscarf of a Muslim woman by force. It is typical for only a Muslim woman’s husband or her family members to see her without her headscarf.


Robert Mueller Indicts Attorney for Allegedly Lying About Contacts with Former Trump Campaign Aide Rick Gates

FILE - In this June 13, 2013 file photo, FBI Director Robert Mueller listens as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, as the House Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing on the FBI. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team of lawyers investigating potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign is still growing, but its early composition reveals a breadth of experience in criminal law and in following the money. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Special counsel Robert Mueller is charging an attorney who communicated with former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates with making false statements to federal officials, according to an indictment released Tuesday.

Alex Van Der Zwaan is charged with making “materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations” to the special counsel’s office and FBI agents on November 3, 2017, according to the indictment.

According to the indictment, Van Der Zwaan said his last communication with Gates was in mid-August 2016 — “an innocuous text message” — and his last communication with “Person A” was in 2014 (when he and Person A discussed Person A’s family).

Van Der Zwaan also said he did not know why an email between him and Person A in September 2016 was not produced to the special counsel’s office, according to the indictment.

However, he “then and there well knew and believed” that in or about September, he spoke with both Gates and Person A regarding the report on Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister and opponent of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, and surreptitiously recorded the calls.

He also deleted and “otherwise did not produce” emails sought by the Special Counsel’s Office and Law Firm A, including the September email between him and Person A in September 2016.

Van Der Zwaan, who worked as an attorney for law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, was hired in 2012 by the Ukraine Ministry of Justice via lobbyist Paul Manafort to prepare a report on the trial of Tymoshenko.

Manafort, a lobbyist and long-time political consultant to several Republican campaigns, had done work in Washington for Yanukovych’s Party before he joined Trump’s campaign team in March 2016 and became Trump’s campaign manager from June to August 2016.

Both Manafort and Gates were indicted last year for alleged financial crimes involving their work in Ukraine that predated their work for the Trump campaign. They have both pleaded not guilty, though there has been recent speculation that Gates is in the process of a making a potential plea deal.

According to New York Times reporter Kenneth Vogel, Van Der Zwaan was one of eight attorneys at the firm involved in writing the report Manafort commissioned, which whitewashed Yanukovych’s record:

Also. according to Vogel, the law firm said it terminated its employment of Van der Zwaan in 2017 and has been “cooperating with authorities in connection with this matter.”