KCRW's LRC Presents: All the Presidents Lawyers A civilized yet provocative discussion of the politics of law, libel, litigation and the White House.
KCRW's LRC Presents: All the Presidents Lawyers

KCRW's LRC Presents: All the Presidents Lawyers


A civilized yet provocative discussion of the politics of law, libel, litigation and the White House.

Most Recent Episodes

Judiciary, take the wheel

Adam Schiff and the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee lay out their case for the impeachment of President Trump. How strong is the case? And should they have taken more time to gather more information? Republicans also submitted a report, which Ken says is more like creative writing than a report. As Ken and Josh taped this episode, the House Judiciary Committee began its first hearing. When can we expect articles of impeachment and what will be in them? Also, what the hell has Rudy Giuliani been up to? Ken and Josh discuss that, plus Duncan Hunter, Lev Parnas, and David Wohl.

The king of frivolous lawsuits

President Trump is a litigious person, but when it comes to winning defamation and libel lawsuits, his record is pretty terrible. He's 0-8 in fact.Ken White andJosh Barro talk about the president's First Amendment record withSusan Seager of USC's Gould School of Law, and take questions from a live audience of lawyers, law students and alumni.

Bonus: All The President's Lawyers at USC

Josh and Ken discuss the impeachment testimony of Gordon Sondland, Laura Cooper and David Hale and other timely topics in this special episode of All The President's Lawyers, recorded in front of an audience at USC Gould School of Law. More of their conversation with Gould law professor and First Amendment lawyer Susan Seager will be released next week.

Who should be afraid right now?

Seven witnesses have appeared for public testimony in the impeachment inquiry, and more are testifying today. There are all witnesses who have previously testified in closer session. What have we learned that's new and important? (EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland was beginning his testimony as Josh and Ken recorded this episode — check back Thursday for a bonus episode.) At this point, should any of these people be worried about criminal liability, either now or in the event that a new administration comes in with a new attorney general in 2021? Plus: President Trump's mean tweets about former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch as she was testifying — is that witness tampering? Roger Stone was convicted on all counts. What's next for him? And what do you do with a problem like Lev Parnas?

Impeachment, now in public

The impeachment of President Trump is out in public and on TV now. What does the schedule look like? How long will this take? And will testimony always take place while Ken and Josh are recording this podcast? John Bolton has joined his former colleague John Kupperman in asking a court for clearance before they testify to Congress. Bolton has also been sending some signals that he has some interesting things to say, but he's not going to just show up, and Congress doesn't seem that interested. Is it just because he's trying to get publicity for a book? And what about Mick Mulvaney? Mulvaney tried to intervene and was told he couldn't join the lawsuit, Mulvaney said he would file his own lawsuit, and now he's just going to ignore the subpoena. Closing arguments in Roger Stone's trial are expected today. How's that trial been going for Stone? Has it turned out to be the circus he dreamed of? Ken says it's been pretty straightforward and traditional, actually. Plus: What is Lev Parnas doing? And Rudy Giuliani might start a podcast.

Dishonesty or bad preparation?

EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland has provided an update to his testimony. He now says his recollection has been refreshed, and he remembers now that he communicated to Ukrainian officials that release of military aid was conditioned on President Zelensky announcing an investigation into Burisma, the company whose board Hunter Biden sat on. Is it possible that Sondland's recollection on the quid pro quo is a good legal strategy? And will the rest of his testimony stand as others (including Sondland) testify in public? Speaking of: are all the witnesses now on the same about this quid pro quo and whether it was to squeeze Ukraine? Is any of this illegal? Impeachable? Wouldn't it be smarter for Democrats to call this extortion or bribery, or something more in line with criminal statutes? Republicans are saying President Trump has a right to confront the whistleblower as his accuser and that the whistleblower should be cross-examined. Ken says that's absolute nonsense, and not based in reality at all. Plus: The fight for President Trump's tax returns gets closer to the Supreme Court. Is it likely the court will grant cert? Lev Parnas has lawyered up with a non-Trump lawyer and he says he'll be complying with Congressional subpoenas. Does that mean he's "flipped"? It looks like Michael Flynn is more formally angling for a presidential pardon. E. Jean Carroll is suing President Trump for defamation.

Fruit of the poisonous tree

For weeks, Republicans have been claiming that the impeachment inquiry isn't a real impeachment inquiry because the House of Representatives never held a formal vote at the outset. But now, House Democrats are saying they will have that vote this week. Many Republicans still aren't satisfied. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the investigation was started improperly and therefore cannot be fixed: "it'd be the fruit from the poisonous tree." Did he get that legal doctrine right? Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a former White House official who served as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, testified earlier this week. Vindman, who heard the July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, testified that crucial words and phrases were left off the transcript of the call and he tried and failed to correct the transcript accordingly. Then, the investigation into the Russian investigation is now a criminal inquiry. Is that big news or is that a political move to change the news cycle?

Quid pro quo

In his testimony to Congress, William Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, described a quid pro quo: US military aid would be released to Ukraine if the Ukrainian president made a public statement pledging an investigation into Burisma. Ambassador Taylor heard that from someone on the National Security Council, and then he spoke with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who clarified that "everything" depended on Ukraine complying with President Trump's wishes about Joe Biden. This seems important. What happens next? What about all the contradictions to Sondland's testimony? And what's going on with the investigation into the 2016 investigation? Plus: more about the travails of Rudy Giuliani, Viennese pastries, and why the jury in Roger Stone's trial won't be able to watch The Godfather: Part II in court.

Does Rudy Need a Lawyer?

Rudy Giuliani has lots to worry about this week. He has refused to comply with a subpoena in the impeachment inquiry and says that he doesn't need a lawyer. But Ken begs to differ. Giuliani did have a lawyer write up a letter defying the subpoena, which Josh and Ken agree was the written equivalent of giving the middle finger. Adding to Giuliani's full plate, federal prosecutors are looking into whether he may have broken foreign lobbying laws. And Ken says investigators are almost definitely trying to flip Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. They were indicted last week on campaign finance charges. Despite warnings from the White House about executive privilege, several key figures are testifying in the congressional impeachment inquiry. Former EU ambassador Gordon Sondland will testify Thursday and clearly doesn't want to go down with the Trump ship. Less clear is whether Trump's dismissal of former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, while politically risky, is evidence of anything impeachable. And, former White House foreign policy advisor Fiona Hill spoke with impeachment investigators this week. Her lawyers argued in their own letter that executive privilege may not apply to her testimony because of possible government misconduct.

Recognize the legitimacy of this podcast

White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Congress laying out why they won't be participating in the impeachment inquiry. Ken says it's eight pages of bloviation and very short on rule of law. And what's really new here? Shouldn't we have expected this reaction from President Trump and the White House legal team? Ken says this shows a level of defiance from the White House that hasn't been there before, but what happens if a court eventually makes a call on the relative powers of the legislative and executive branch? Josh says that's the real uncharted territory here. But, as Ken notes, this is a specific defiance of a specific constitutional procedure: the Constitution is clear that the House has the "sole power to impeach" and this letter essentially says the White House doesn't recognize that power. Plus: why hasn't there been a vote in the House to proceed with impeachment? How long could it take for Congress to get what they're seeking from EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland? A federal judge in New York rejected President Trump's argument he and his people and entities are immune from federal and state investigations — this is the case where New York state is seeking his tax returns. If New York succeeds, will we get to see them? Maybe. Is Rudy Giuliani right that there's a conspiracy to remove the president — in other words, is it RICO? And wait, is Rudy Giuliani Donald Trump's lawyer?

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