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All The Lawyers Who Could've Defended Donald Trump Wanted To Get Paid. Oops.
There's a downside to being a deadbeat who won't pay his bills? Who knew?
When Donald Trump hired his longtime lawyer pal Marc Kasowitz to represent him in the Russia case (if there is one, which there isn't, shut up), a lot of people wondered why Trump would go with a litigator whose main business was trying to intimidate people who pissed Trump off, like when he threatened to sue the New York Times for writing stories about women who said Trump groped them. Why didn't Trump get a more experienced Washington lawyer who knew how to handle congressional and FBI investigations, or maybe even impeachment? We have a little more insight into that now, thanks to an investigative piece by Michael Isikoff that reveals the White House really did try to find top-notch legal representation, but a lot of the best lawyers just said thanks but no thanks.
It's not like Trump doesn't need a good lawyer, or that there aren't plenty of law firms who'd jump at the chance to work for a president. Just not this president. According to "five sources familiar with discussions about the matter," Trump's people reached out to some of the top legal talent available, only to find those attorneys had some grout to scrub that night.
Among them, sources said, were some of the most high-profile names in the legal profession, including Brendan Sullivan of Williams & Connolly; Ted Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Paul Clement and Mark Filip of Kirkland & Ellis; and Robert Giuffra of Sullivan & Cromwell.
In case you're keeping score, that's the guy who defended Oliver North, the guy who represented George W. in Bush v Gore and later fought Proposition 8 (and was also Dubya's first solicitor general), Dubya's second solicitor general, a former deputy attorney general, and the dude who ran Volkswagen's defense in the diesel-fiddling lawsuit.
Some of them said they had big trials coming up, others said they had existing commitments they couldn't break, and some would have conflicts of interest since their firms were already representing clients connected to investigations of the Trump administration, "such as financial institutions that have already received subpoenas relating to potential money-laundering issues that are part of the investigation." Also, you'd be astonished at the number of top Washington and New York lawyers who are washing their hair from now until 2020.
But there was another big sticking point, not that any of the firms would go on the record to say it: The silly ol' lawyers were worried about their firms' reputations being sullied by being associated with the president of the United States. Plus, what's the point of being Donald Trump's lawyer when he won't even listen to you and can't be kept away from Twitter, where he says what he damn well pleases, because he's the president, dammit. Here's the money quote of the whole piece:
“The concerns were, ‘The guy won’t pay and he won’t listen,’” said one lawyer close to the White House who is familiar with some of the discussions between the firms and the administration, as well as deliberations within the firms themselves.
Damn, we want a cigarette after that, and we don't even smoke. The concerns about getting paid are well-founded, since, as you'll recall, Donald Trump stiffs everyone, including stiffing the attorneys he hires to defend him in lawsuits from contractors he's stiffed.
The same lawyer told Isikoff the firms were worried a connection with Trump would "kill recruitment" of new lawyers, because who wants "the firm that represented former president Donald Trump" on their resume or in news stories for the rest of their lives? Also, some firms worried their current clients would be none too pleased by a connection to Trump. What if they were at the law offices and he wanted to shake their hand, ewwwwww. And it wasn't just the one lawyer, either:
Another lawyer briefed on some of the discussions agreed that the firms were worried about the reputational risk of representing the president. One issue that arose, this lawyer said, was “Do I want to be associated with this president and his policies?” In addition, the lawyer said, there were concerns that if they took on the case, “Who’s in charge?” and “Would he listen?”
Gee, you have to wonder why any law firm would worry about something like that? After all, this is a guy who believes in loyalty, at least as long as it's people being loyal to him. He may have to throw the occasional attorney general under the the bus, then deny he ever had a bus, but isn't that just part of being a lawyer? The real issue here is why are so many lawyers such pussies?
Isikoff notes that Kasowitz, the poor sucker stuck with the thankless task of defending Trump now, has been consulting with a number of experienced Washington lawyers to
solicit ideas and suggestions about how to craft an overall defense strategy, including how and when to publicly release information that might be helpful to the president’s defense, the source said.
So it's good to know that even if the president isn't able to get the best people, his lawyer can crib from some of them. And if Trump needs high-powered legal help, he's seen ads for some terrific lawyers while watching Hannity. Mesothelioma is like impeachment, isn't it?
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