Donald Trump pulls Biglaw Agency into the center of the election interference effort
Leaked audio from the Washington Post and the Atlanta Journal Constitution caught Donald Trump harassing Georgian Foreign Secretary Brad Raffensperger for accepting a number of previously debunked electoral fraud myths and only “finding 11,780 votes” that Trump won the Georgian electoral vote would deliver. Is this a violation of state and federal electoral laws? Pretty sure! Was there an attorney on the call who failed to protect their client from falling into potential criminal liability first? YUP!
But what made this call so incredible is that the attorney Trump brought with him was not from the awkward crew of free agents willing to trade their professional credibility for an opportunity to leak hair dye on national television, but rather from Clole by Foley & Lardner Mitchell. Mitchell was already spreading bold “electoral fraud” myths on all of the networks Trump likes to watch, so it may have been inevitable that he would turn to him. What wasn’t inevitable was that a biglaw company would allow one of their partners to officially drag them into this mess.
This isn’t the first time Mitchell’s practice has put Foley & Lardner in the hot seat. She was caught on tape while leading a gerrymandering seminar in which she advised lawmakers to shred their notes before going home so they wouldn’t become part of a discovery request. Document retention policies are essentially about making sure no material is being produced. However, it is a sizable leap from “We’ll delete all your emails that are older than six months” to “Don’t take notes because we will commit.” some civil rights violations. “These are Stringer Bell things.
But gerrymandering is the polite form of disenfranchisement. Ben Ginsberg could devote his life to something like that and still get a pat on the back by MSNBC. It is much more difficult for a large law firm to rely on state election officials to get positive votes.
You know things are bad when the emerging social media narrative in defense of the call is that it was “criminal” for the Georgia SoS office to take the conversation to the newspapers. Georgia is a consent jurisdiction for a party so they can record and leak what they want. The high-minded Conservatives out there recognize this and have called this a “settlement negotiation” which is neither privileged nor confidential. The fact that settlement negotiations can be excluded as evidence at the hearing is not a problem when it comes to sending an audio file to the post via email. If criminal threats were banned in settlement negotiations, Michael Avenatti would be in much better shape.
To do Mitchell justice, she pushed back some of Trump’s craziest statements and found that she didn’t “know” some of the wildest statements as true. But those moments were rare when she relied on claims that 18,000 ballot papers were counted in covert and Dominion voting machines. And she definitely didn’t pinch her client while he specifically said that he is not interested in face-neutral solutions to improve the number of votes and just wants the state to “find” enough votes for him.
Trump: No, we have a way, but I don’t want to go into that. We found a way. . . Sorry but we don’t need it because we only lost 11,000 votes so we don’t even need it. Personally, I think they are corrupt as hell. But we don’t need that. All we have to do, Cleta, is find 11,000+ votes. So we don’t need that. I don’t want to shake up the whole world.
Jones Day should send Foley & Lardner a basket of fruit. When people started pressuring Jones Day clients to do business with the law firm that laid the foundation for all of the frivolous voting challenges in this cycle (and I wondered why a mainstream transactional partner wasn’t trying to be right away Porting business somewhere with less drama). The company took weak damage control measures and crouched in the hope that all of this would be over. Perhaps that strategy has paid off, because now you can confidently say they have tried to systematically disenfranchise Americans, but at least their clients weren’t on tap to encourage a state official to commit election fraud!
And yes, it was. Politico even checked the Georgia Criminal Code:
Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University, said, “The Georgia Code states that anyone who solicits, requests, commands, or otherwise attempts to encourage election fraud is guilty of election fraud. “Request or Request” is the key language. The President no doubt urged the Secretary of State to invent voices and create voices that were not there. Not only did he ask to break the specific lead Joe Biden won, but he also said we needed an extra vote to secure victory in Georgia. “
Earlier yesterday, an in-house attorney announced on Twitter that his company would terminate its relationship with Foley & Lardner immediately. Of course, every client should do this to law firms that offer assistance and support electoral disorder. Someone is sure to try the “Well everyone deserves a lawyer” canard in a ploy to protect Foley & Lardner from the natural and logical consequences of their actions. But only because a lawyer as a professional can present problematic clients – unless the lawyer as a professional has of course actively encouraged a client to take a potentially criminal path that would be much, much worse for a law firm – the law firm as a company is preserved no passport if it trades its goodwill with publicly available corporate customers in order to raise quick money for a coup. It’s a simple business and branding problem, and companies that take such cases have to face the consequences.
And the Foley & Lardner brand doesn’t look too good right now.
“I only want to find 11,780 votes”: In an extraordinary one-hour phone call, Trump urges the Georgian foreign minister to recalculate the vote in his favor [Washington Post]
Earlier: Biglaw Partner at Fox News Peddling Tales Of Voter Fraud
GOP attorney condemns Trump for undermining electoral confidence despite long career as undermining electoral confidence
Yesterday was the day America learned what we had known all along about Jones Day
Joe Patrice is Senior Editor at Above the Law and co-moderator of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re into law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe is also the managing director of RPN Executive Search.