(FiveNation.com)- Former President Donald Trump’s latest lawsuit against former competitor Hillary Clinton may, ironically, bolster Clinton allies’ continued legal efforts to keep details of their anti-Trump political activities hidden from public scrutiny.
Fusion GPS lawyers contended in court files revealed Tuesday that Trump’s recently filed racketeering complaint bolsters their effort to use attorney-client privilege to keep details of the firm’s work with the 2016 Clinton campaign hidden. Trump and his supporters have long attacked Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the infamous Steele Dossier, which made explosive and often unfounded claims about Trump’s links to Russia.
Top Clinton allies argued in legal papers on Tuesday that the details of private conversations about the dossier should be kept confidential, in part because Trump’s famous litigiousness — as evidenced by his new, factually dubious lawsuit — was at the heart of the Democrats’ decision to hire Fusion in the first place.
The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee have long claimed that former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele’s dossier for Fusion GPS was part of legal work done by the campaign’s general counsel, Marc Elias. On the other hand, Elias has never publicly described what job he was doing or how Fusion GPS fit into it.
In a court filing related to the criminal prosecution of one of Elias’ former colleagues, Michael Sussmann, for allegedly lying to the FBI, Elias claims that Fusion assisted him in protecting the Clinton campaign and the DNC from a litigious adversary — Trump — as they prepared to launch a barrage of attacks on his business record and foreign ties.
Before running for office, Trump had accrued more than 7,000 lawsuits. Elias claimed Fusion’s investigation into that past might help Democrats avoid libel charges and other legal claims as they worked to discredit Trump’s record.
Lawyers representing Democratic causes said that Trump’s massive lawsuit against Clinton and dozens of former government officials, political operatives, and entities filed in a Florida federal court last month demonstrates that Elias’ concerns about litigation were far from theoretical.
Fusion GPS attorney Joshua Levy claimed that Elias had a subjectively (and objectively) legitimate concern about Mr. Trump’s litigiousness due to his repeated threats and actual action against his critics.
According to legal precedents, courts usually honor attorney-client protections if the talks occur in connection with existing or prospective litigation, but not if they’re entirely unrelated to possible court action.
Durham’s side has contended that some of Elias’ activity, as his hiring of Fusion GPS, looked to be more akin to conventional opposition research than anything a lawyer would seek guidance on for a client.
In the document made public Tuesday, about a third of Elias’ new seven-page declaration was filed under seal and blacked out. According to lawyers for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, the redactions were necessary to safeguard facts regarding the attorney-client relationship.