“A lawyer isn’t a walking cone of silence.”
President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has refused to tell lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee about conversations he had with his father this summer about the now-infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin.
Trump Jr. cited “attorney-client privilege” to avoid answering the lawmakers’ questions about the conversation, explaining that both his and President Trump’s lawyers were also on the phone call. But some lawmakers balked at that excuse. “I don’t believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present,” Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, told Politico. “That’s not the purpose of attorney-client privilege.”
Is Schiff right? Or can Trump Jr. withhold potentially incriminating information just because his lawyer was also on the phone call when he discussed the meeting with his father? To find out, I reached out to nine legal experts.
Their full responses, edited for clarity and style, are below.
Ric Simmons, law professor, Ohio State University
The attorney-client privilege unequivocally does not apply in this case. The purpose of the privilege is to encourage free and open communication between a lawyer and a client so that the lawyer will get the full story and be able to give accurate legal advice. Simply having a lawyer in the room does not make the communications privileged.
The privilege only applies to confidential communications with a lawyer (or a lawyer’s agent) that are made for the purposes of receiving legal advice. This conversation fails these requirements on two counts.
First, the conversation was not a confidential communication between an attorney and a client — there were two people in the room, and it is inconceivable that the lawyer was representing both of Read More Here