Rudy Giuliani admitted something that seems to me to be clearly inappropriate and probably illegal, which is that Trump’s legal team has a mutual defense agreement with Paul Manafort, which allows them to share information between attorneys. I can’t imagine how this is legal and I wonder if the court and prosecutors are aware of it.
But joint (or mutual) defense agreements are supposed to be used by the attorneys for separate defendants facing charges for the same thing. Trump is not a defendant here. Indeed, that’s what Trump and his lawyers keep pointing out, that the crimes Manafort is accused of took place before he joined the Trump campaign and thus have nothing to do with Trump. So why, then, would they have a joint defense agreement? Trump is not a defendant. It makes no sense.
Giuliani also confirmed that Trump’s lawyers and Manafort’s have been in regular contact and that they are part of a joint defense agreement that allows confidential information sharing.
“All during the investigation we have an open communication with them,” he said. “Defense lawyers talk to each other all the time, where, as long as our clients authorize it, therefore we have a better idea of what’s going to happen. That’s very common.”
Giuliani confirmed he spoke with Manafort’s lead defense lawyer Kevin Downing shortly before and after the verdicts were returned in the Virginia trial, but the former mayor wouldn’t say what he discusses with the Manafort team. “It’d all be attorney-client privilege, not just from our point of view but from theirs,” he said.
But it does allow Trump to communicate with Manafort through their attorneys and have all such communication protected by attorney-client privilege. And Manafort is still a potential witness against Trump in a future case. Which means this situation is a recipe for witness tampering and meddling in a prosecution by promising clemency or a pardon and hiding that fact. Is the judge aware of this agreement? Is Mueller? I can’t imagine they would allow such an agreement to be made. I’m very curious to see where this leads. Sounds like strong evidence of obstruction of justice to me.