The ACLU has fully earned their reputation among conservatives as a liberal organization masquerading as a civil rights enterprise, but even with that reputation affirmed, they will usually find a way to defend – or at the very least, remain silent on – the civil liberties of those on the right. We’ve seen this when it comes to free speech of conservatives and alt-right personalities over the last couple of years, so we’re not convinced (or at least, we weren’t up until today) that the ACLU had been completely taken over by Democrat interests. Now, though, we can only conclude that this is exactly what has happened.
The FBI’s raid of Michael Cohen’s office and hotel was a direct strike at the civil liberties of every American – rich or poor, black or white, Republican or Democrat. We’re not going to go as far as President Trump did and say that “attorney-client privilege is dead,” but it is damn sure on life support. The FBI and the Justice Department are asking for a hell of a lot of trust from the American people when they insist that any privileged communications will be kept behind a “firewall,” read only by an independent “taint team,” and will play no role in the Mueller investigation. It’s trust that they have not earned. It’s a story that the ACLU – were we talking about a Democratic president and his lawyer – would not accept quite so readily.
The ACLU doesn’t necessarily need to condemn what happened Monday morning. Perhaps we’re wrong and the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York are doing everything exactly by the book. Perhaps the Constitution will stand unharmed when all is said and done. We don’t know yet, so we’re not asking the ACLU to come out and make a statement using facts that none of us have.
We ARE saying, however, that the article they published this week PRAISING and CELEBRATING the raid has no business on their website.
“The ACLU is the nation’s premier defender of privacy, and we’ve long maintained that the right of every American to speak freely to his or her attorney is essential to the legal system,” wrote ACLU legal director David Cole. “But we also believe in the rule of law as an essential foundation for civil liberties and civil rights. And perhaps the first principle of the rule of law is that no one — not even the president, let alone his lawyer — is above the law. And no one, not even the president, can exploit the attorney-client privilege to engage in crime or fraud.”
This is the ACLU in self-defense mode, and we get it. But it might have been better for all involved if they’d said nothing at all.
Time will tell if Trump used the attorney-client privilege as an “exploit” to commit fraud. We’re concerned about what else this partisan investigation will find in these communications to further their witch hunt. If the ACLU were truly committed to protecting every American’s privacy, they would be concerned about that as well.