Michael Cohen shows deceit and self-service in private exchanges with civil rights attorney Leon Koziol during 2016 Trump campaign

When the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participated in a number of news interviews attacking Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign for president, an aggrieved parent and civil rights attorney, Leon Koziol, published a number of blog posts condemning her actions. He did so because they raised serious ethical issues impacting a personal case being considered on her docket at the time.

Justice Ginsburg was violating clearly established rules which prohibit the use of judicial office to advance political activities. But because those rules do not apply to our highest court, she was able to slide. Among other indiscretions, her attacks were directed against a private citizen having no case on her docket, and she was using court chambers financed by public money to carry out her agenda.

But most insidiously, her attempt to influence a federal election might later become a subject of disqualification if Trump succeeded, as he ultimately did, and that raised a fatal question of systemic bias inasmuch as the Chief Justice took no action on behalf of the Court and its subordinate tribunals. Her attacks were not incidental, isolated or court-related but continued during the summer of 2016.

It compelled media to condemn her behavior with the New York Post featuring a front-page photo of “Darth Bader” after the infamous Star Wars villain decked out in familiar black attire. Even the New York Times published a well-reasoned editorial emphasizing the bad precedent. Without admitting to any wrongdoing, Justice Ginsburg then announced she would no longer issue unauthorized opinions.

By that time the damage was irreversible. In standard self-defense, candidate Trump was not intimidated or dissuaded by any high court justice. He promptly counter-attacked with unflattering depictions of Bader-Ginsburg as “shot” from an aged mind standpoint which predictably defamed the reputation of our Supreme Court as a whole. It forced litigant Koziol to file a rarely employed motion for her recusal.

That motion was based on a case docketed as Leon Koziol v United States District Court, No. 15-1519. It sought an extraordinary writ necessitated by a federal court’s refusal to intervene in state prosecutions aimed at censoring Koziol’s First Amendment rights including publications supporting Trump. The targeting featured “quasi-criminal” disciplinary actions having no jury rights and substandard proofs.

It prompted Koziol to contact high level officers at Trump Towers, but the candidate’s “fixer,” Michael Cohen, took control without any mention to his boss and client. During telephonic exchanges between June and November, 2016, Cohen denied any audience with Donald Trump on these highly relevant events and abandoned them after the motion was denied (as a “suggestion”) on October 3, 2016.

Now, six years later, Cohen finds himself mired in perjury, prison time, false testimony before Congress, and an indictment of his former client influenced by vengeance. It has forever altered our political and legal systems. A centerpiece of this politically-charged indictment is that Donald Trump knew about the hush money paid by Cohen to Stormy Daniels, but this saga corroborates otherwise.

Leon R. Koziol, J.D. is a former city corporation counsel, school board attorney and office holder who practiced civil rights law for more than two decades until his licenses and daughters were targeted due to a conscientious stand taken against his profession. He is currently the president of the nonprofit, Citizen Commission Against Corruption. Inc. His ordeal is summarized in a March 17, 2023 Law Review and News Alert with greater detail in a published memoir, Whistleblower in Paris.

Mr. Koziol may be contacted at (315) 796-4000 and leonkoziol@gmail.com

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