House Democrats ‘throwing down the gauntlet’ by going after Trump attorneys under ‘crime-fraud exception’: Ex-DOJ official
US President Donald Trump has a uniquely combative relationship with the media, which he denounces as "fake news," except in a handful of cases, including his favored Fox News network (AFP Photo/NICHOLAS KAMM)

House Democrats are "throwing down the gauntlet" by going after President Donald Trump's attorneys, a former top justice official explained on MSNBC on Tuesday.


"The New York Times up with a story just before we came on the air. House panel investigates obstruction claims against Trump lawyers," Wallace reported.

The host read from the story.

"The House Intelligence Committee is investigating whether lawyers tied to President Trump and his family helped obstruct the panel’s inquiry into Russian election interference by shaping false testimony, a series of previously undisclosed letters from its chairman show," The Times reported.

"The line of inquiry stems from claims made by the president’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who told Congress earlier this year that the lawyers in question helped edit false testimony that he provided to Congress in 2017 about a Trump Tower project in Moscow," the newspaper continued.

"The line of inquiry stems from claims made by the president’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen who told Congress earlier this year that the lawyers in question help edit false testimony that he provided to Congress," Wallace reported. "This is a new development to an allegation that Cohen has made. But clearly, the investigations birthed by Cohen’s testimony and hours and hours with federal investigators and SDNY and [Robert] Mueller live on."

For analysis, Wallace interviewed former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman.

"This seems like a very clear escalation of at least the house Intel committee taking very seriously their oversight responsibilities. What happens next?" she asked.

"They are throwing down the gauntlet," Litman replied.

"This one, in particular, will be litigation under the crime-fraud exception, that is, they are not going to be looking to charge them, they're going to be looking to say 'your attorney/client privilege, executive/client privilege, it doesn’t exist," he explained. "It’s vitiated because what you were doing was a crime."

He also noted the implications for Donald Trump, Jr.

"Likewise with Trump Jr. who has been suggested he’s cooperating. Notice he’s studiously avoided saying anything since he gave the testimony that was probably false to Congress. He’ll now be on the hot seat and he’s avoided all efforts, but he’ll be at a real quandary and will probably wind up taking the Fifth Amendment," he predicted.

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