Don (“D”) serves in the District of Columbia as Counsel to the President of the United States. On January 26, Sally (“S”), the senior federal law enforcement official, contacted D and requested a meeting. He agreed and they met privately.
In the meeting, S explained to D that:
- a senior adviser to the President has misled the Vice President of the U.S., and perhaps other government officials as well, about the substance of the adviser’s private communications with a foreign government official;
- the foreign government is aware of this misleading through its public and private sources of information; and
- this situation makes the senior adviser extremely vulnerable to influence by the foreign government.
In follow up meetings, S showed D the substantive information underlying her concerns. D became convinced that this was a serious situation that the President needed to address, probably by dismissing the senior adviser.
During the next few weeks, D discussed this situation a number of times with the President and other officials. (We do not know what the President responded, including whether he directed D to take any subsequent action.)
On February 17, D arranged for a local reporter to learn that, back in January, S had warned the White House through D that the senior adviser had misled the Vice President and perhaps others, and that this made him subject to influence by the foreign government. The next day, the reporter’s newspaper published this information. Public outcry ensued, leading the President to dismiss the senior adviser.
Assume that the foregoing comes to light, and that appropriate authorities are now working to determine if D should be subjected to professional discipline for his conduct.
The question: Please discuss whether D should be disciplined under D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6. Please include assessments based on various assumptions, which you should state explicitly, about what the President decided, ordered, or authorized at various times, including with regard to the D-arranged transmission of information to the reporter.
Extra credit: If times permits, please also discuss whether, on any set of assumed facts, D and/or whoever transmitted the information to the reporter deserves recognition and praise as a patriot.