Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"out of his own pocket"

Trump's lawyer says that he paid the hush money to Stormy Daniels himself and was not reimbursed for Trump. Actually, despite all the "out of his own pocket" headlines, that's not exactly what he said. Actually he only said that he used his own money to "facilitate" the payment, which could just mean that he paid the cab fair when he carried a suitcase full of cash from Trump Tower to wherever Daniels was. But the news media is interpreting the lawyer's statement as meaning that he personally paid Daniels from his own funds and was not reimbursed.

Let's say that is the correct interpretation--it clearly is what the lawyer, Michael Cohen, intends everyone to think. Why isn't Cohen facing a bunch of ethics complaints?

Rule 1.8(e) of the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility (the ethics rules that govern attorneys' conduct in the U.S.) states:
(e) A lawyer shall not provide financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated litigation, except that: 
(1) a lawyer may advance court costs and expenses of litigation, the repayment of which may be contingent on the outcome of the matter; and 
(2) a lawyer representing an indigent client may pay court costs and expenses of litigation on behalf of the client.
If Cohen paid Daniels "out of his own pocket" that looks like a clear violation of Rule 1.8(e) to me. Stormy Daniels was paid to avoid potential litigation. It doesn't qualify for either of the exceptions to Rule 1.8(e) either. Cohen was not under a contingent fee agreement in which he was advancing Trump the costs and expenses of litigation, and Trump was not indigent.

Does anyone know what states he is licensed to practice in? Once you find the state, it is not hard to file a complaint.

UPDATE (2/15/18): Licensed in NY State, and my complaint is on its way to the Court's disciplinary division.