Cohen pleads the fifth! You know what that means? Nothing.


Em Carpenter

Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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5 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    Yeah. It is wise for him to use his rights to protect his butt. He may be sleazy in general but using his rights should not be used to assume guilt. Now we just need to find all those folks who wanted Lois Lerners head on a block. Those people like Trump, R congress critters and few posters here to see where they are at with this. Heck it was just a couple days ago i read a rant in the local paper about criminal having more rights then the rest of us. Facepalm.Report

  2. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Sounds like the perennial advice Popehat gives out. For the love of…, just shut up!Report

  3. Avatar Nevermoor says:

    Respectfully disagree.

    In civil cases, taking the fifth actually can lead to an adverse inference against the person invoking it (or their employer).Report

    • Avatar Em Carpenter in reply to Nevermoor says:

      Sure, but that’s not what I am talking about here.
      This was in response to all the folks frothing at the mouth that Cohen’s plan to invoke the fifth amendment means he is guilty of some crime for which he is being investigated. My intent was to point out that is not necessarily true.
      I offered no opinion on how that would affect his position in the civil case. I should have been more clear when I said a jury may not consider a defendant’s silence that I was referring to criminal matters.

      Thank you for reading!Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Nevermoor says:

      I was coming to make that point. Invoking the Fifth is damaging to your case in civil court. How damaging depends on the context, but given the bar is “preponderance of evidence” giving the plaintiff even a little is not done lightly.

      And I don’t think, in this case, that Cohen taking the Fifth would lead to just a tidbit of inference — after all, if I understand the basic theory here, the meat of the case is basically does have a lot to do with what Cohen did and with what intent.

      Of course, he also can’t invoke the Fifth blindly. He can only invoke it to avoid self-incrimination. It’s not a blanket shield against discovery, or even (I think) being slapped on the stand by Daniel’s lawyer and questioned. He’ll have to answer questions that don’t criminally incriminate him.

      Which is why, I suspect, the judge granted the 90 day stay. The Daniel’s lawyers and Cohen’s lawyers and the judge are going to have to work out exactly which lines of questioning could be incriminating, and which aren’t, because Daniels’ lawyer is going to be trodding through Cohen’s life eagerly, and the odds of him getting questioned on the stand are high.

      The pivotal points are about whether Cohen informed Trump about the NDA, whether Trump signed it, and where the money came from. The last one might criminally incriminate him (it could be a violation of campaign law), but what about the first two?Report