When I did my twelve months in Iraq, I knew my law license was at some small risk. Even though I was in the Army in a non-lawyer role. I knew I could not lie or violate any law. Non-soldiers may not realize this, but in a war zone, there is some pressure to violate laws to win the war. My job in Iraq dealt with this money fund known as CERP. CERP money included hundreds of thousands of dollars. There was incentive to use that money for improper purposes, for everything from influencing local sheiks to funding some lieutenant’s holiday fund. My predecessor was threatened when he resisted one commander’s insistence on using CERP money for a favorite project. Sitting at my desk one day in dusty Iraq, I heard the JAG lawyer who sat behind me say she was not willing to risk her law license for some dubious proposition by a combat commander. The one thing no lawyer wants to hear: “I will not risk my law license for this.” I wanted to win the war, too. We all wanted to win the war. (Well, most of us anyway). But, not at the expense of my law license.
Yet, Pres. Trump’s lawyer appears willing to risk his law license. During the impeachment proceedings, Pat Cipollone has uttered falsehoods, things he has to know are false. Such as, he said no one other than Democrats were allowed in the SCIF when three House committees interviewed witnesses. He knows the Republican members and their staffs were in that same room asking their own questions of the witnesses.
Indeed, Pat Cipollone is a witness to the Ukraine shenanigans. He knows he is surely a witness. Yet, he is appearing in front of the Senate making his arguments. He must know someone, anyone can lodge a complaint against him with his local bar association. A lawyer cannot appear as an advocate if he is also a witness. Every lawyer knows this. That is Lawyer 101. The normal practice when a lawyer is a witness is for the opposing counsel to seek his dis-qualification. But, if no one seeks to have the offending lawyer disqualified, what happens? Who knows. It is the rare lawyer who will knowingly disregard ethical rules.
Mr. Cippolone supervises John Eisenberg, to whom several federal workers reported their concerns about Pres. Trump’s conduct. See Politico news report. Mr. Cipollone is a witness on so many issues. As I would say when I was in Iraq, no decision is worth my law license. Mr. Trump’s lawyer appears to feel differently.