Trump’s Thuggish Attorneys

Mr. Kasowitz  threatened to sue the NY Times over the publication of accusations from two women that Mr. Trump sexually harassed them.


TRUMP has a long history of dealing with thuggish attorneys, starting with the McCarthyite Ray Cohn who represented Trump as Mr. T began his real estate empire.


(With text from the NY Times and VICE News and NPR)

Now Trump’s  long term corporate lawyer, Michael Cohen, is under scrutiny by the FBI for  connections to Russia. In Trump’s first weeks in office, Cohen raised suspicions even further by hand-delivering a sealed proposal that would ultimately roll back financial sanctions against Russia, according to the New York Times. Cohen has no previous experience in foreign policy.

Following a contentious exchange between then-Fox anchor Megyn Kelly and Trump in the first Republican primary presidential debate, Cohen retweeted a user  who said “#boycottmegynkelly @realDonaldTrump we can gut her.” He threatened a Daily Beast reporter about publishing an unflattering story about Trump: “I will mess your life up.”

Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s new consigliere is the Donald Trump of lawyering. Unlike Theodore B. Olson, an old Washington wise man who represented George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore, Kasowitz is known as an all too public Wall Street fixer. The first paragraph of the online biography on his firm’s website cites the dozens of media outlets that have written about him, and how they have described him as the “toughest lawyer on Wall Street,” an “uberlitigator” and “the toughest of the tough guys.”

Starting in 2006, Kasowitz, Benson and Torres spent years going after the hedge fund managers Steven A. Cohen, Dan Loeb and James S. Chanos on behalf of Fairfax Financial Holdings, claiming they had engaged in a “bear raid” to drive down the company’s stock. The case, after 11 years of back and forth, which judges described as “grappling with a lion’s fearsome hide,” was dismissed. However, a recent three-judge panel has allowed Fairfax to continue its case against Mr. Cohen’s firm.

Michael Dean Cohen is a lawyer and spokesperson for U.S. President Donald Trump. Prior to this appointment he was Executive Vice-President of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump.

Mr. Kasowitz also played both sides of Wall Street’s biggest fighter: Carl C. Icahn. In the 1990s, Mr. Kasowitz worked for Bennett S. LeBow, who owned Liggett Group, one of the big-five tobacco companies. Mr. LeBow and Mr. Icahn, working with Mr. Kasowitz, tried, unsuccessfully, to take over RJR Nabisco. (Mr. Kasowitz was largely responsible for helping Liggett settle the huge class action suits it faced over the health impact of tobacco; the settlements became a model for much of the tobacco industry.)

Years later, Mr. Kasowitz’s firm was on the other side of Mr. Icahn in a dispute over casinos. The client? Mr. Trump, along with his daughter Ivanka.

Mr. Kasowitz’s firm represented the Trumps in a case against Mr. Icahn, seeking to prevent him from buying three Trump casinos in Atlantic City after Trump Entertainment Resorts declared bankruptcy. The Kasowitz law firm blasted out a news release in 2010: “Kasowitz Clients Donald and Ivanka Trump Defeat Financier Carl Icahn in Casino Takeover Fight.”  Today…Mr. Icahn is one of Mr. Trump’s biggest supporters and is now acting as a special adviser on regulatory reform.

Also in the strange bedfellows category: Mr. Kasowitz is representing Harold Peerenboom, an entrepreneur, in a bizarre legal battle involving hate mail against one of Mr. Trump’s biggest backers, Isaac Perlmutter, the reclusive billionaire who owned Marvel Entertainment. (It will be interesting if Mr. Perlmutter tries to use his ties with Mr. Trump as a back channel to Mr. Kasowitz.)

Marc Kasowitz is no stranger to Trump and Russia.  Mr. Kasowitz recently added Sberbank, a Russian state-controlled bank, as a client in a case that accused it of conspiring to take over a Russian granite company — and asserting that the conspiracy involved lieutenants of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. The complaint called it a “textbook case of Russian corporate raiding.”

And then there is Fox.  Mr. Kasowitz is currently representing Bill O’Reilly in the matter of his ousting by Fox over sexual harassment accusations. (In grand Trumpian style, Mr. Kasowitz described the accusations as “McCarthyism.”)

Mr. Kasowitz’s law partner, David M. Friedman, is  Mr. Trump’s ambassador to Israel.  And another of Mr. Kasowitz’s partners — one of his newest — is Joseph I. Lieberman, the former senator from Connecticut. Mr. Lieberman was among Mr. Trump’s possible nominees to take over the F.B.I. from Mr. Comey, but he withdrew his name from consideration, in part because of Mr. Trump’s hiring of Mr. Kasowitz’s law firm.

And then there is Trump’s government paid attorney, Don McGahn.   Don McGahn  is the White House counsel, the president’s official lawyer, and his job description should put him at the center of every legal decision made in the White House if Trump would listen.  Mr. McGahn follows in the shoes of  respected lawyers who have led this job since  1943 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the office.

McGahn finds himself the man in the middle, as parallels are increasingly drawn — fairly or unfairly — to the Watergate scandal.  He was selected for this job after serving  as Chair of the Federal Election Commission,  one of three Republicans on the Commission. In the 2016 election  he was a door stop, the Democrats saw the three Republicans voting as  deadlocking the commission so that it did not enforce the campaign-finance rules. One Democart said “McGahn came in with the mission of trying to make the agency as ineffective as possible.”  In one infamous incident, he became so angry that he literally tore up the agency’s rule book and threw the pieces across the table at a Democratic commissioner.



Ethics watchdog Fred Wertheimer contends that Trump’s administration has “gotten dangerously close” to some of the problems that Nixon did in Watergate…. “The smoking gun in the Watergate scandals was a White House tape in which President Nixon was caught laying out the plan to get the CIA to intervene with the FBI to block an FBI investigation of Watergate,” Wertheimer said. “Here, President Trump has gotten dangerously close to the line of doing the same thing.”

Fromer acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified that she warned McGahn, less than a week after Trump was sworn in, that Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn was subject to blackmail by the Russians. She said she told McGahn that the Justice Department had evidence Flynn had lied to Vice President Pence about the nature of his discussions with the Russian ambassador when President Barack Obama was still in office.

Yates quoted the White House counsel as asking, “Why does it matter to DOJ if one White House official lies to another White House official?”

She said she had explained to him, “To state the obvious, you don’t want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians.”

Despite the warning, Flynn wasn’t fired until 18 days later.

READMORE about Mr. McGahn at NPR


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