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William Rockefeller: Advice of Counsel

The growth of the Rockefeller empire attracted considerable attention from the US Justice Department on anti-trust grounds. Called to appear in court, William Rockefeller settled upon an interesting defense, as the transcripts show:

"I decline to answer on the advice of counsel."
"On the ground that the answer will incriminate you?"
"I decline to answer on the advice of counsel."
"Or is it that the answer will subject you to some forfeiture?"
"I decline to answer on the advice of counsel."
"Do you decline on the ground that the answer will disgrace you?"
"I decline to answer on the advice of counsel."
"Did your counsel tell you to stick to that one answer?"
"I decline to answer on the advice of counsel."

[At this point, the entire court -- Rockefeller included -- burst into laughter. (A similar tactic was employed by Ronald Reagan during hearings on the Iran-Contra scandal; unfortunately, the editors "don't recall" the details.)]

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