Attorney hired by Alaska for $600 an hour, tells court that Trump is above the law
Consovoy claims that the presidency provides a cloak of immunity for Trump against state and local authorities. He also claims that Congress has no right to investigate Trump’s behavior.
Here is the exchange Consovoy had this week with a federal judge who asked about Trump’s famous claim, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” and whether Trump could be prosecuted for murder.
JUDGE DENNY CHIN, SECOND CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS: What's your view on the Fifth Avenue example? Local authorities couldn't investigate? They couldn't do anything about it?
WILLIAM CONSOVOY, TRUMP ATTORNEY: I think once a president is removed from office, any local authority -- this is not a permanent immunity.
CHIN: Well, I'm talking about while in office.
CHIN: That's the hypo. (hypothetical) Nothing could be done? That's your position?
CONSOVOY: That is correct.
According to Consovoy’s thinking, Trump could go on a crime spree and stay immune, for as long as he remains in the White House. Consovoy is a former law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas.
This case is about the hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and the lies that Trump has told about that aspect of his behavior. Trump promised in the past to release his tax returns, but has refused to do so.
The Supreme Court has said, contrary to Consovoy’s claim, that it “never suggested that the president, or any other official, has an immunity that extends beyond the scope of any action taken in an official capacity.”
The more I read about Consovoy, the more suspect I am about the decision by Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson to give Consovoy a no-bid contract to pursue Clarkson’s anti-union crusade in Alaska.
Clarkson and Dunleavy want to make it more difficult for state unions to collect dues and say that the Supreme Court decision in the Janus case requires a change in the system agreed to in state contracts, under which employees have the opportunity to opt out once a year.
Consovoy claims his $600-per-hour rate includes an “Alaska discount” of $350 an hour and that he is worth $950 an hour. Why Alaska deserves a discount is not mentioned in his contract.
The state has already paid most of the $50,000 set aside at the start and wants to increase that amount to $125,000. By late September, Consovoy’s law firm had already billed the state for 59.5 hours of work, which cost nearly $35,000. Five-and-a-half hours of the early work was performed by a Consovoy associate who charges $450 an hour, instead of his normal $600 an hour.
In the first phase of the case, Anchorage Judge Gregory Miller rejected most of the claims Consovoy made for Clarkson, granting a temporary restraining order and delaying the implementation of Clarkson’s anti-union plan to require more frequent actions by employees to pay their dues.
The Janus Supreme Court case “does not support the state’s position,” Miller said in granting a temporary restraining order Oct. 3, stopping the state from changing the dues collection process. Here is the decision.
Clarkson wants Consovoy to get this case out of the state courts and into the federal courts as soon as possible, hoping that it will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.