September 18, 2017


What's the matter with Trump's lawyers? (Aaron Blake, September 18, 2017, Washington Post)

Whatever Cobb and Dowd were discussing, the fact that they were doing it in public would seem to be a pretty serious breach not just of good sense, but possibly of attorney-client privilege. Imagine if this conversation wound up being consequential in the scheme of the Russia investigation. The fact that it even happened -- New York Times reporter or no New York Times reporter -- is astounding.

But against the broader backdrop of what Trump's lawyers have been doing and saying publicly, it is far less surprising.

A quick recap:

Cobb asked a Business Insider reporter if she was "on drugs."

He later called the same reporter "insane" and mused about using a drone on her while unwittingly emailing with a prankster posing as a White House official.

Cobb described himself and Kelly as the "adults in the room" at the White House in emails with a Washington restaurateur. "I walked away from $4 million annually to do this, had to sell my entire retirement account for major capital losses and lost a s‑‑‑load to try to protect the third pillar of democracy," Cobb told Jeff Jetton.

When he took the job, Cobb told that he had "rocks in my head and steel balls." He added that he took the job because it was "an impossible task with a deadline." (Side note: So defending Trump from the Russia investigation is an "impossible task," you say?)

Now-former Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz threatened a random stranger in an email exchange, telling her, "Watch your back, b‑‑‑‑."

Dowd rather strangely confirmed to The Post last week that the legal team had discussed whether Jared Kushner should exit the White House.

Jay Sekulow denied twice that Trump was involved in Donald Trump Jr.'s initial response to that Russia meeting, only to be directly contradicted by the White House itself.

Trump's colorful longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, responded to his contradictory denials about being involved with Russians with plenty of bluster. "I feel great," he told HuffPost. "Which picture did The Wall Street Journal use of me? Was it good?" Cohen added: "I am in many respects just like the president. Nothing seems to rattle me, no matter how bad the hate."

Cohen regularly engages with critics and mixes it up on social media. Asked by Vanity Fair what that says, he responded: "It means I'm relevant."

Any one of these examples is highly unusual for a lawyer, or really any public official. Yet Trump seems to have assembled a legal team that mirrors his own combative style and at-times-unhelpful tendency to spout off in public.

It's a bit of a chicken-and-egg question. Are the lawyers acting like this because the White House as a whole plays it so fast and loose? Or were they selected because most established lawyers wouldn't take on such a challenging client?

Posted by at September 18, 2017 2:13 PM