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Trump’s Personal Lawyer Tripping Up In First Days On The Job

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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Marc Kasowitz has won few admirers in his early days as President Donald Trump’s personal counsel in the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Kasowitz, a New York-based lawyer without a significant profile in Washington, has received a chilly reception both inside the White House and among legal commentators outside the administration.

The New York Times reports that Kasowitz’s first public remarks in his capacity as the president’s counsel left many Trump aides unimpressed. He gave a press conference immediately following former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before a Senate panel last Thursday, replete with a publicly released transcript of his statement that had repeated misspellings, an error compounded by situational awkwardness at the briefing. Kasowitz did not make eye contact throughout, and hurried for a nearby elevator as soon as he concluded.

His allegations about supposed inaccuracies in the timeline that Comey presented concerning his leak of internal Bureau memorandums — offered to called the veracity of his testimony into question — have not been substantiated.

He also has reportedly advised White House aides that they do not need their own legal representation — it is unclear whether or not he consulted White House Counsel Don McGahn before offering that guidance. Such advice would typically come directly from McGahn’s office. The allegation raises questions about the extent of Kasowitz’s involvement in the administration, which would dictate the scope of any future claim of privilege.

Others claim he has discussed counsel that he gave his client, The Huffington Post reports. Kasowitz has also taken credit for the president’s decision to dismiss former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The president asked Bharara, formerly one of the nation’s most high profile prosecutors, to stay his post as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York during the transition, but abruptly dismissed him in March as part of a broader purge of Obama-era officials at the Department of Justice. Critics raised unverified allegations that Bharara was investigating various TrumpWorld associates, prompting the president to fire him. The president’s campaign headquarters and many of his New York-based businesses fell within Bharara’s jurisdiction.

According to HuffPo’s account — which relies on unnamed sources — Kasowitz boasted that he had advised Trump to sack Bharara while he had the chance.

“This guy is going to get you,” he allegedly told the president, according to a source familiar with the account.

It does not appear that Kasowitz was the White House’s first choice to serve as the president’s personal attorney. Yahoo News reports that seasoned Beltway operators, including Paul Clement of Kirkland & Ellis, Theodore Olson of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Brendan Sullivan of Williams & Connolly, and Robert Giuffra of Sullivan & Cromwell, turned down requests to discuss the position before the administration turned to Kasowitz.

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