"This is a very dangerous day today for lawyer-client relations," Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz told Fox News on Monday amid reports that the FBI had raided the office and home of President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen.
In the simultaneous raids on Monday, the FBI confiscated information from Cohen's office and home related to an investigation into "possible bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations," according to the The Washington Post's sources. The campaign finance issue appears to be connected to Cohen's payment of $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, the porn star who is in a legal battle with Cohen and Trump over a non-disclosure agreement she signed for the money in 2016.
Speaking to Fox shortly after news of the raids broke, the widely-respected legal scholar warned about the possible ramifications of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller-prompted seizure of Cohen's legal documents, computers and emails, which Dershowitz suggested was a violation of the crucial principle of lawyer-client privilege.
"I tell [my clients] on my word of honor that what you tell me is sacrosanct," he said, in a moment highlighted by the Washington Examiner. "And now they say, just based on probable cause ... they can burst into the office, grab all the computers, and then give it to another FBI agent and say, 'You're the firewall. We want you now to read all these confidential communications, tell us which ones we can get and which ones we can't get.'"
Dershowitz specifically called out the ACLU for its "deafening silence" over the troubling development.
"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 said. "The deafening silence from the ACLU and civil libertarians about the intrusion into the lawyer-client confidentiality is really appalling."
In a series of tweets Tuesday, President Trump made the same argument in more concise terms. "Attorney–client privilege is dead!" he wrote. The investigation, he added, is just more of Mueller's "TOTAL WITCH HUNT!"
As The Daily Wire's Joseph Curl points out, Trump and Dershowitz are not alone. Several other high-profile names are echoing the statement, including Laura Ingraham and Mike Huckabee, who also called out the ACLU.
"If by raiding the office of @realDonaldTrump’s attorney, the @fbi violated Trump’s attorney-client privilege, this is about to get really ugly," wrote Ingraham.
"Waiting to see if ACLU will weigh in on the raid of Michael Cohen's office and home. If gov't can seize privileged communication between a client and lawyer, what civil liberties are left? Hate @realDonaldTrump if you must, but 4th and 5th amendments shouldn't be shredded.
So is this a violation of attorney-client privilege? Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro points out some details to keep in mind, including that "attorney-client privilege doesn't apply to violating the law with your attorney." If Trump and Cohen did work together in "criminal conspiracy to violate campaign finance law," then the feds could have a rationale for seizing their communications and documents. If not, as Ingraham put it, "this is about to get really ugly." Read Shapiro's full analysis here.