He invoked attorney-client privilege at least 17 times over questions related to his payments and work for Hunter Biden.
Yet, while refusing to answer those questions, he admitted to an array of other financial ties and transactions with his “client.”
To the extent that Morris was not acting as a lawyer but as a businessman or a friend, these conversations (and related records) may not be protected.
In his deposition, Morris also discusses his ownership of 10% of Bohai Harvest RST LLC (BHR), through his acquisition of interest in Skaneateles LLC.
Those are business interests associated with Hunter Biden.
Morris seemed to be working through his own identity crisis with the help of House investigators.
While insisting that his legal representation of Hunter Biden was “global and complete,” Morris detailed how his relationship floated from loan giver to friend to patron to film producer.
His counsel insists that all loans and roles were clearly laid out for Hunter in writing and reviewed by outside counsel.
House investigator: “How did it come up that you were going to purchase Skaneateles? Or why did you buy Skaneateles of all the companies that Hunter Biden was involved with? Why that one?”
Morris: “That’s privileged. I am not going to answer that because of attorney-client privilege.”
That prompted a quick intervention by his lawyer.
Morris reversed and agreed it was not protected and said that he “evaluated it as a businessman, and I thought it was something that could be a very successful investment.”
Morris’ confusion often left his answers in an unintelligible morass.
When asked about his decision to do a movie on his client, Morris again seemed to merge his roles, saying these are “just materials being collected for representation that may be used in the future after the representation.”
Later, Morris seemed to invoke an open-ended, running privilege.
At one point, Morris claimed he was “like a general counsel” in Hunter Biden’s “virtual corporation.”
He explained, “Counsel, in my job, I represent high-profile individuals. … [H]igh-profile individuals have basically virtual corporations. And in those virtual corporations, they have all kinds of staff and assistants. You know, agents and managers … publicists. You know, whatever. And what I do is I oversee … sort of the squad. Sort of like a general counsel.”
With that, Morris was viewed as asserting a type of floating privilege because “I am involved in everything. And the same is with Hunter. If you check my retainer agreements, you’ll see that it’s not — it says all matters.”
The statement is both factually accurate and legally dubious.
It seeks sweeping privilege claims despite the layers of different relationships, from loaner to donor to lawyer to producer.
If Morris is called to testify in court, this may not fly.
The problem is that when you are “everything” to a client, you may end up with nothing when it comes to confidentiality.
Jonathan Turley is an attorney and professor at George Washington University Law School.