Trump Said to Hire Longtime Lawyer Kasowitz for Russia Probe
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump has hired one of his longtime lawyers, Marc Kasowitz, to help guide him through potentially wide-ranging probes of his campaign and Russian interference in the election, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Kasowitz, managing partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, and his law firm have represented Trump in various cases for more than 15 years, according to his biography on the firm’s website. The matters range from restructuring work involving a Trump casino to defending him from a defamation claim brought by a former "Apprentice" contestant.
Until now, Trump has been relying mostly on White House Counsel Don McGahn, a long-time election lawyer who as a government employee serves the office of the presidency not Trump himself. But as the investigations by the FBI and congressional committees of Russia’s election meddling and any possible collusion by Trump associates have ramped up in recent weeks, legal experts urged Trump to bring in an outside attorney.
Kasowitz didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.
The decision to bring in his own legal team comes after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as the special counsel to lead the Justice Department’s probe of Russia’s role in the 2016 election and any ties to Trump’s campaign.
Robert Bennett, who defended former President Bill Clinton from sexual harassment claims in a civil lawsuit brought by Paula Jones, said Trump and his legal team now need to quiet the constant drumbeat of stories in the media while dealing with the special counsel investigation. That includes declining to comment on every leak or revelation.
“Trump needs a lawyer with a lot of experience in dealing with what I like to call the Bermuda Triangle -- the overlapping of Congress, the special counsel, and the media,” Bennett said. “You have to have somebody who is very nuanced.”
Trump is facing scrutiny from several other fronts. In addition to the FBI investigation, the House and Senate intelligence committees, the House oversight panel and the Senate’s Judiciary Committee are looking into Russia’s election meddling and whether Trump may have sought to interfere with the FBI probe.
James Comey, who Trump fired as FBI director, is expected to testify after Memorial Day before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the panel has requested testimony from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. The panel also is threatening former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was a prominent member of Trump’s campaign, with a possible contempt citation after he refused to turn over documents.
Separately, five Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee have asked Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to provide any records on Trumps financial and business ties to Russia. They also have asked Deutsche Bank AG to turn over internal records to show whether the bank’s loans to Trump, made years before the New York developer ran for president, “were guaranteed by the Russian government, or were in any way connected to Russia.”
Kasowitz has built a successful practice with a focus on commercial litigation, real estate, bankruptcy and securities. Clients has ranged from property investors to insurers such as ACA Financial Guaranty Corp and MBIA Inc. His firm has offices across the country. Among his biggest cases are those brought against banks over conduct stemming from the financial crisis, including one brought on behalf of investors against a Deutsche Bank AG unit over faulty mortgage bonds. His recent work includes defending Bill O’Reilly against claims that he sexually harassed women at Fox News.
His firm, which has offices across the country, has a handful of former federal prosecutors, including Edward E. McNally, who is said to be a front-runner for U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Kasowitz’s law firm also employs former Senator Joe Lieberman, who interviewed with the Trump administration for the post of FBI director and was named by Trump as a top choice for the job. CNN reported Wednesday that Lieberman has withdrawn from consideration.