The phrasing used to be so familiar, you could sing along.
“We will not try this case in the news media.”
“The matter is under investigation, so we cannot comment.”
“It is not our policy to discuss pending litigation.”
But in the current air of national scandal, these incantations become less routine every day.
For starters, we hear none of this standard “let-the-judicial-process-play-itself-out” stuff from President Donald Trump.
Over and over, he scorns an authorized and active federal investigation as a baseless witch hunt.
For their part, porn actress Stormy Daniels and her lawyer Michael Avenatti make so many public waves that aside from whatever they are seeking in court, both have won mega-fame.
Avenatti credibly disclosed that companies such as Novartis and AT&T, as well as billionaire Victor Vekselberg, poured millions into a firm called Essential Consultants. The entity belongs to Trump lawyer-fixer Michael Cohen, who paid $130,000 to Daniels, allegedly as hush money over an affair with Trump, the putative issue of her litigation.
After the FBI raided Cohen’s office, Trump bemoaned the fate of his own attorney-client privilege — before it was known just what the seizure had yielded.
Trump advocate Rudy Giuliani, who came up as a U.S. attorney, recently called FBI agents “storm troopers,” thus borrowing the hyperbole of mob lawyers and radical attorneys.
Giuliani has appeared on TV so often and so feverishly that it becomes unclear if he’s acting as Trump’s legal representative in any effective way.
Except for special counsel Robert Mueller and his staff, nobody seems committed to withholding comment these days.
Former FBI Director James Comey, whose firing could become part of a future justice-obstruction case, took public issue with U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis blasting Mueller’s prosecution of ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Comey wondered aloud for the sidelines how Ellis would know enough about the feds’ investigation to conclude that prosecuting Manafort is solely about implicating Trump.
Freelance pronouncements on judicial matters go beyond the Beltway.
Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked if he thought departing New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman should face criminal charges over his alleged abuse of women.
“Based on what I’ve read, yes,” de Blasio said.
Here and there, the traditional no-comment-with-an-excuse still comes in handy. After earlier Trump statements about the Daniels case had to be retracted, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders finally said: “Because of ongoing litigation, I’m not going to comment any further.”