Bush "consults" with outside counsel

http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Politics/ap20040602_1805.html

"President Bush has consulted an outside lawyer in case he needs to retain him in the grand jury investigation of who leaked the name of a covert CIA operative last year, the White House said Wednesday. "

Part of the continuing plan of this administration to “return dignity and honor to the White House.”

Strange. I did a google on this “Jim Sharp” fellow and didn’t turn up any links to Halliburton, Enron, the Project for the New American Century, or the American Enterprise Institute.

I think Google is broke or something. :wink:

Using my Google-Fu I tracked down one intriguing mention of a lawyer named Jim Sharp who might be our guy. But that’s not exactly an uncommon name. Here’s what I found:

Why People Hate Lawyers, Part Umptyump
Jack Ayer

Have now finished reading Tony Lukas’ “Nightmare” which ends as it began – a monument to the best that journalism can be. It is full of law angles and law-press angles, and I have to confess Lukas even made me soften a bit on Woodward and Bernstein: I still think they get more credit than they deserve for creating the Watergate story, but I guess I have to concede that they did play a pivotal role in keeping it on the agenda.

There is one beautiful bit of law talk that almost certainly did not come to public notice at the time. It involves a poor mug named Bart Porter, otherwise unknown to me, who was induced to lie by the much more prominent Jeb Magruder. Porter finally decides he needs a lawyer. He winds up in the office of Jim Sharp. Sharp was already representing a Magruder: indeed he had already cut a deal for Magruder and was carefully nursing it towards closure. Of course Magruder wouldn’t want his deal blown out of the water by a competing deal. But Porter tells Sharp that he wants to confess all. Per Lukas, “Sharp exclaimed:”

"‘My God, you are an ant! You are nothing! Do you realize the whole course of history is going to be changed?’

"When Porter bridled a bit, Sharp abruptly changed his approach. If Porter was adamant about going to the prosecutors, the lawyer said, why of course Magruder would give him the ‘courtesy’ of going down first. Porter thanked him.

“But as soon as Porter was out of his office, Sharp called [the prosecutor] and set up an appointment for Magruder …” Magruder met with prosecutors that morning and closed his deal. Later in the day, Magruder ran into Porter. “[H]e mentioned that he had been to see the prosecutors that morning. Porter, remembering Sharp’s professered ‘courtesy’ of the day before, was ‘rather stunned.’”

I invite commentary from my distinguished colleagues, but it sure looks like a betrayal (of Porter) to me. My first thought was: unh hnh, this is why people hate lawyers. But then on second thought: no this is why people love lawyers – you get them to do the sleazy little bits of misconduct you wouldn’t think of doing yourself. Anyone, anyone?

Not satisified with the vanity-press opportunities afforded me here, I have weighed in with some further comments about Lukas in an Amazon review.

http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/lawreporting/2004_02_01_indexarch.htm

And the book itself is kinda interesting for those of us who aren’t already full to the gills with the current secretive Republican administration and its, likely, massive coverups.

So is this our boy? Probably not but I couldn’t find out anything else based on that small snippet of information in the story. He does sound like exactly the kind of lawyer Bush will be needing, though, doesn’t he?

Josh Marshall opines that this might be James B. Sharp, who represented Richard Secord in Iran-Contra.

According to a report on NPR, this is a James Sharp who’s been around for ‘many years’ practicing law in D.C. Some of his clients have included Monica Lewinsky and Fawn Hall (remember her from Iran-Contra?). This might be the same James Sharp both of us seem to have pinged as he seems to specialize in major political scandals.

Perhaps it’s just my own professional bias talking, but have we really come so far that we view the mere consultation with counsel as an indictment of character?

If you’re going before a grand jury, it’s probably a good idea to retain counsel, even if you’re pure as the driven snow. A grand jury is not the place for “winging it.” Preparation is important. Sitting down with counsel and asking “if I am called, what can I expect and how do I prepare for it?” is quite prudent.

There’s plenty of stuff to get upset at Bush over. You really don’t need to invent any. Taking this benign factoid and transforming it into some kind of character indictment is both silly and unnecessary.

To be fair, you’re actually right about this. It doesn’t mean anything in, and of, itself. Only wish this President had decided to be a bit better prepared about other aspects of his governing but covering one’s ass seems to be pretty important too.

However, frankly, the idea that a President may be part of an investigation of this nature is going to provoke speculation. The naming of a private attorney tends to confirm it. Hence newsworthy. And if that lawyer does turn out to be a ‘crisis manager’ type rather than some run of the mill hireling…what can I say? It’s interesting and, frankly, encouraging. I think this President has a good deal to answer for and seeing him on the defensive, even if in a periferal way about a sideshow event, is a nice start.

The posts here are about the lawyer, not the client, FWIW. Bush is prudent to seek counsel if indeed he is implicated or might be implicated in any form by a grand jury.

Which, you know, he probably isn’t.

But you’re missing the point. History, at least when you’re living in it, isn’t often about defining moments. It’s about a series of events that lead to the conclusions that we are ultimately are judged by. This is a big one, as the veil of power and secrecy that this administration has cloaked themselves in seems to finally have been pierced.

Perhaps, but this is such a trivial part of those events that I can’t help but think it silly to even mention it. It seems the real series events would be those that take place at the grand jury itself.

I mean, what next? “Bush picks out blue tie; advised grand jury doesn’t like red ties”?

More disturbing to me is the sense in the OP that retention of counsel is somehow in and of itself a negative thing – evidence of hypocrisy when placed next to claims of “dignity and honor.” Well, there may well be plenty of things about the Bush administration to find undignified or dishonorable, but I hardly think this is one of them.

I know lawyer-bashing is something of an American pasttime, but I don’t think we should cultivate the mindset that seeing a lawyer automatically means you’ve got something to hide. I think that sort of thing acts as an impediment to people seeking counsel when they should – early on, when problems can be anticipated and handled. Legal problems are like cancer – they’re best caught early – and preemptive consultations ought not be discouraged.

Hiring a lawyer is a trivial event?

Well, I would imagine that if you’re in the legal field, hiring a lawyer is pretty commonplace. Since, well, that’s what your livelihood depends on.

Well, of course Damien wants it to be a trivial as hiring a barber, then he would be able to find some work! :wink:

Here’s the most succinct description that I’ve seen of the import of this:

I know lawyer-bashing is something of an American pasttime, but I don’t think we should cultivate the mindset that seeing a lawyer automatically means you’ve got something to hide. I think that sort of thing acts as an impediment to people seeking counsel when they should – early on, when problems can be anticipated and handled. Legal problems are like cancer – they’re best caught early – and preemptive consultations ought not be discouraged.

Bush has an army of lawyers for preemptive info. He’s surrounded by them.

This is a special lawyer for the bad things that he might have done personally. This is the lawyer that politicians get because they need to make sure that the attorney/client privilege is air-tight

My Card.

Why is it any less trivial than hiring a doctor or dentist?

Bush has an army of lawyers for preemptive info. He’s surrounded by them.

This is a special lawyer for the bad things that he might have done personally. This is the lawyer that politicians get because they need to make sure that the attorney/client privilege is air-tight.

Actually, it would be inappropriate for the White House counsel to render advice unrelated to the president’s conduct of his official duties – their client is the office, not the man. I would not be surprised if the White House counsel specifically advised Bush that he would need to retain private counsel in order to recieve legal advice for any potential grand jury testimony he might give.

That doesn’t mean there’s anything untoward here. If Laura decided to divorce Georgie boy, I’d expect them both to hire their own attorneys, and not to rely on White House counsel.

[quote="Damien Falgoust I would not be surprised if the White House counsel specifically advised Bush that he would need to retain private counsel in order to recieve legal advice for any potential grand jury testimony he might give. [/quote]

Mmmm. The sound of the words Bush and Grand Jury in the same sentence.
Say it again! Say it again!

For me it’s beyond partisanship. He’s earned it.

As delightful as the thought of Mr. President in front of a grand jury for charges that were actually meaningful (i.e. not infidelity), I wouldn’t read too much into this retention of counsel. I imagine if he has any questions about the proceeding at all, he might not have attorney-client privledge with gonzales because he can’t (i suspect) use gonzales for any case where he personally be a witness or a litigant.

In other words, this may be a fairly technical legal move, not a material one. We can always hope, though…

I’d note, as I’m sure you’re aware, that no president has been brought before a grand jury over charges of infidelity. Thankfully, I might add.

I’d note, as I’m sure you’re aware, that no president has been brought before a grand jury over charges of infidelity. Thankfully, I might add.[/quote]

Ah, you are correct. It’s a shame one was impeached over it, however…