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Oh, Just Some Bannon Pals Trying To Pay A Lawyer To Lie About His Roy Moore-Accusin' Client, No Big
Funny how these things happen!
While most of our weekend was eaten up by 1) America's incredible teens marching to take all the guns away so America can become Cuba, and 2) Unwelcome thoughts of Donald Trump's peener, the Washington Post dropped a great big investigative bombshell Friday afternoon that we'd be remiss to miss. Just a few days after WaPo published its story last November in which three women recalled Roy Moore trying to date them when they were teens -- and one, Leigh Corfman, said Moore had taken her to his house and taken off her top and pants off like a gross old sex perv -- a couple of Moore supporters made a very generous offer to the lawyer who'd agreed to represent Corfman. All he had to do was drop his client, sign a statement saying he'd decided Corfman wasn't credible, and he'd get $10,000. Just another story of how Hillary Clinton has corrupted American politics, obviously.
The attorney, Eddie Sexton, of Hoover, Alabama, agreed to help Corfman handle the media after the story broke because the two had been friends in childhood back in Gadsden. He was approached by Gary Lantrip and Bert Davi, partners in a construction company and supporters of Moore, who told him they could get the statement disavowing Corfman to Breitbart News, and that in addition to the money, they'd arrange for Sexton to meet Steve Bannon himself, which sounds to us more like a stick than a carrot. Parts of the story were backed up by recordings of phone calls between the two and Sexton -- Rachel Maddow had no end of fun with the recordings Friday night, since during one of the calls Sexton was also pounding up big old pills with a hammer to slip them into an ailing horse's food.
Sexton told WaPo that he had been reluctant to go on the record with his story, because at the time, he'd been representing Lantrip and Davi in an unrelated matter, and because Lantrip was a longtime friend. The Post says he only spoke publicly "after repeated requests over months from Post reporters, who contacted him after obtaining one of the recordings." Nope, we never find out where/who that copy of the phone call came from. Probably "John Barron."
After the Post ran its big expose last November 9, Sexton's law firm was deluged with calls from the media, and one of the partners at the firm told Sexton he wasn't comfortable being connected to such a high-profile story. Sexton says that he and Corfman agreed he would no longer represent her, although they didn't make a public announcement. Two days later, after Moore's campaign had gone into full denial mode, Steve Bannon accused the Post of doing a "weaponized hit" on Moore, and Breitbart horcrux Matthew Boyle made the perfectly sane accusation that the story resulted from "collusion between the Democrat establishment, the Republican establishment and the media," because don't those three just work together all the time?
Lantrip contacted Sexton the same day, texting, "Hey buddy call me if you can. It’s important." He and Davi later met Sexton at his law office and Davi said Steve Bannon himself would just love it if Sexton would publicly disavow Corfman and say he didn't believe her (because really, hadn't the whole thing been set up by the Democrats AND the Republicans together?). Sexton wasn't too keen on the idea, since he'd just been making supportive comments about Corfman on Facebook and to the media, and so why would anyone believe he'd changed his mind? After the meeting, Lantrip called him again and said Bannon et al. were still interested; Sexton doesn't recall whether the $10,000 offer was made during that call or the earlier face to face. He definitely could have used the money because he had been working on a drawn-out class action lawsuit over some defective drywall, and drywall litigation is not one of your bigger money-makers.
Sexton agreed to meet with Lantrip and Davi again, this time in a conference room at their construction office. Sexton said Lantrip told him the money was ready to go, and shortly after they sat down they were joined by two of Breitbart's Top Men, the always oleaginous Matthew Boyle, and Breitbart Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein, an obvious choice since Roy Moore is such a Leviticus-driven fundamentalist that he's practically a resident of the Holy Land himself. Sexton told WaPo that he'd been planning to record that meeting on his phone, but was too nervous to actually do it.
On the table was a notebook, he said, opened to a page that contained a handwritten statement he was expected to sign. There was little small talk, Sexton said. He said they began discussing the possibility of issuing a statement about Corfman’s credibility.
Sexton said he told them he didn’t see any way he could make a statement disparaging his client — that he would lose his law license if he did — and besides that, he hadn’t even asked Corfman about the details of her allegations against Moore.
Sexton says he told them he doubted anyone would believe him anyway, but Boyle and Klein reassured him, "Well, that’s not really the point of whether or not anybody believes you. It’s just, you know, getting other information out there." Hey, sounds like those "alternative facts" we keep hearing about!
Sexton got cold feet and left the meeting, but he took the handwritten statement with him, saying he'd have to think more about whether he could do anything at all to help. He said he didn't know who wrote it, but he let WaPo see it:
After reviewing the allegations, after taking Leigh Corfman as my client, I believe there is not sufficient evidence to back them up and that the case strains credulity. I decided that since I would have difficulty represent a client that don't believe I have to recuse myself from this case. I hope Leigh the best.
Lantrip called Sexton after the meeting; Sexton recorded the call, in which Lantrip appeared to mention the money, only all careful-like, as befits the whole Spy-Vs-Spy looniness of the caper:
“I mean, have y’all — have they already paid y’all money?” Sexton asked.
“No, just what I’m about to give you,” Lantrip replied.
“We got the 10,” Lantrip said, pausing briefly, “dollars. We got that, but it, it don’t matter.”
Davi and Lantrip also texted Sexton several more times, trying to get him to play along, but Sexton mostly stopped replying, and after one more meeting with the two Moore supporters the whole thing sort of petered out. Sexton went back and forth over whether he should go public or stay quiet; he says Corfman told him she'd prefer he wait until after the election so it wouldn't appear he was politically motivated. Sexton did call a US Attorney to report the incident, but the federal prosecutor replied there didn't appear to have been any violation of election law.
The whole weird saga is worth a read; Moore denied any involvement with the scheme and a campaign spokesperson said Lantrip and Davi didn't have "any special access" to Moore. Lantrip and Davi both acknowledge the meetings happened, but got awfully coy about the offer of money; Davi even suggested Sexton had asked them for payment, which Sexton denied. Davi added that he does know Bannon, but Bannon wasn't told about any payment offer, if there was one, you know? Besides, it was all very noble:
“Our effort was really to let the truth come out,” Davi said.
A Breitbart spokesperson said in a statement the two reporters only attended the meeting because they'd been told Corfman's lawyer was going to say he'd dropped her, and denied any knowledge of the money or of any involvement in writing the statement. The Breitbart website doesn't appear to have even mentioned the story, but it does inform us that Saturday's March for Our Lives only got half the expected turnout, and those stupid kids can't even define "assault rifle," even though they want to ban them, so there.
The WaPo story closes by noting Davi also said that while he and Lantrip didn't believe Leigh Corfman's claims about Moore at first, now that Moore will never (?) be in the Senate, their thinking has changed some:
“At the end of the day we came to believe the allegations,” Davi said. “We stepped away from Roy Moore.”
That's nice! Sadly, WaPo never tells us whether Sexton's horse got better.