REPS LIEU AND RICE CALL FOR INVESTIGATION INTO CONDUCT OF MANAFORT'S LAWYERS
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-NY) have requested an investigation into the alleged efforts of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s attorney, who purportedly shared information about the Special Counsel’s investigation with the President’s lawyers. In a letter to the Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Judicial Districts of New York, Reps. Lieu and Rice urge the Chief Counsel to evaluate whether Mr. Manafort’s lawyer violated rules of professional conduct by breaking the terms of Mr. Manafort’s cooperation agreement with the Special Counsel’s office.
In the letter, the Members write:
- As you may know, public reporting indicates that Mr. Downing briefed President Trump’s attorneys on discussions with the Special Counsel after agreeing to cooperate with federal investigators. More than simply an unusual situation, this conduct threatens to interfere with the primary purpose of the Special Counsel’s investigation—to ascertain the truth about Russian interference in the 2016 election and hold any American conspirators accountable. Last week, Special Counsel Mueller filed a status report accusing Manafort of breaking the terms of their cooperation agreement and lying to the FBI.
- Joint defense agreements like the one shared by President Trump’s and Paul Manafort’s attorneys are a typical way for criminal defendants to share information while maintaining attorney-client privilege before one of the defendants agrees to cooperate. However, Mr. Manafort’s lawyers continued to share information about what the Special Counsel asked Manafort, and what he said in response, past the point at which Manafort began working with the Special Counsel.
- Legal analysts have speculated that Mr. Manafort kept the lines of communication open between his team and the President’s in the hopes of a presidential pardon. Indeed, on Tuesday, November 28, President Trump said that a pardon for Paul Manafort was “not off the table. Why would I take it off the table?”
- Under The New York Rules of Professional Conduct Section 8.4 – “Misconduct” Subsection C: “It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to…Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
- By deceiving prosecutors who had rightfully assumed that Mr. Manafort and his lawyers were cooperating as per the terms of their agreement, Mr. Downing at the very least should be subject to a review by the Grievance Committee for potential disbarment.