Left to right: David Rivkin, illustration of President Trump and Lee Casey

Here’s what’s catching my eye: The scary, the extravagant and the ugly.

BakerHostetler partners tells Trump how to shut down Mueller’s investigation. At first, I thought it was a joke. But we’re not remotely close to April Fools’ Day. Last week was, however, a celebration of ghost and goblins, and the advice these two Big Law partners gave to President Trump is downright scary.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, BakerHostetler partners David Rivkin and Lee Casey propose that President Trump “can end this madness” of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation “by immediately issuing a blanket presidential pardon to anyone involved in supposed collusion with Russia or Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, to anyone involved with Russian acquisition of an American uranium company during the Obama administration, and to anyone for any offense that has been investigated by Mr. Mueller’s office.”

It’s that simple: If Trump uses his presidential power to pardon whoever has been implicated, Mueller can’t do his job and will have to shut down the investigation. Rivkin and Casey write: “The president himself would be covered by the blanket pardon we recommend, but the pardon power does not extend to impeachment.”

The advice is coldly technical and cynical, but Rivkin and Casey wrap it in noble cloth. They claim that the Mueller’s investigation has been biased from the get-go and that the charges represent “weaponization of criminal law.” Instead of an investigation by special counsel, they propose that questions of interference in U.S. elections by Russia be investigated by Congress.

All this would be amusing as a policy debate at some Federalist Society event if it weren’t for the very real possibility that Trump might take up the advice. After all, it fits with the ethos of the White House Counsel’s office, where bare technical adherence to the law is all that matters. (Fun fact: Even John Yoo, the author of the infamous “torture memos” during the W administration, writes that a blanket pardon, while legal, is a crummy idea.)

Then what would happen? The Democrats will scream and holler, and the Republicans (with the exception of those on their way out) will sit quietly, and Trump could get his way. It would throw a monkey wrench into the whole system and do serious damage to the presidency and our trust in government—essentially fulfilling Stephen Bannon’s nihilistic vision.

Gee, thanks Messrs. Rivkin and Casey. You’re giving lawyers a swell reputation.

 

A shiny trinket for an ex-S&C associate. Sullivan & Cromwell might be fabulously prestigious and lucrative, but I can assure you that not even its biggest, fattest rainmaker could afford what one of its former peon associates is buying.

Joseph Tsai, a one-time S&C corporate associate turned Alibaba co-founder, is awarding himself with a little trophy: A 49 percent stake in the Nets, which, according to The New York Times, is the seventh-most valuable team of the NBA franchise.

It could end up being a decent investment, but Tsai’s acquisition of the Nets seems to be largely a toy project. The Times says that Tsai will be buying the stake with his own money (he’s worth $9 billion, according to Forbes), and that he will be hands-off (he’ll keep his day job at Alibaba and won’t be involved in the basketball or business sides of the Nets).

So why all this effort to acquire this particular toy? Well, Tsai has an interest in sports, reports the Times, “dating back to his time as a lacrosse player at Yale.”

How quaint that it all goes back to his college days. In any case, I’m pretty sure Tsai isn’t feeling too bad that he didn’t stick it out at S&C.

 

Ugliest on campus award: Three go to law schools. Law schools and other academic institutions usually fight to be on those top 10 list, but being on this list is no badge of honor.

We’re not talking about academic reputation, but aesthetics. AD (or Architectural Digest for you old-school readers) recently came out with its most ugliest buildings in higher education—and law schools were well-represented. Actually, over-represented. Law schools comprised three out of the eight structure on America’s ugliest university architecture list. And they are truly breathtaking.

Here they are in all their glory:

 

University of Baltimore School of Law

 

University of Maine School of Law

 

University of Iowa College of Law

Hat tip: TaxProf blog.