In what’s become a running joke, Donald Trump claimed on the campaign trail that “I’m going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people.” Early in the Administration a few semi-legitimate figures destroyed their reputations in futile efforts to steer the orange menace. Today, there’s no one left in Trumplandia but the dullards, fanatics and grifters who thrive in that fetid habitat.
With legitimate firms inventing “conflicts” to avoid representing him, Trump’s impeachment defense team is a roll call of MAGA-land’s finest. This gallery of legal talent is Trump’s idea of serious people.
Bondi is a former Florida AG and Fox News host who ended the state’s investigation into Trump University for a measly 25 grand. Bondi solicited the money personally from Trump. He paid the bribe out of his charitable foundation, and lied about it. Here’s what Trump said, out loud, on the campaign trail, about donations like these, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”
She’s now a lobbyist for Qatar, while also collecting a government check as a White House employee.
Dershowitz is often described as Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyer, but that description skims over a vital nuance in his relationship to that dead rapist. For Epstein and Dershowitz, the attorney-client relationship flowed in both directions.
While he also represented notorious figures like Claus von Bulow and OJ Simpson, he didn’t actually murder their victims. Dershowitz’s relationship to Epstein was kind of special, in that Dershowitz, like Donald Trump, is one of the Epstein party bros accused of raping a girl at his mansion.
How did a lifelong liberal Democrat become a soulless and apparently brainless defender of every crime Trump commits? You can’t square that circle without multiplying by Epstein. Why is Dershowitz on TV disagreeing with himself on impeachment? Everything about the world looks different after someone has evidence of your child rape. If Dershowitz merely entertains a passing thought of betraying Trump, Bill Barr will have the Feds at his door.
After serving as Special Council in the Clinton investigation in the 90’s, Starr helped Jeffrey Epstein negotiate a sweetheart deal to escape a federal rape prosecution in 2007.
After protecting Epstein, Starr became President and Chancellor at Baylor University, which had only recently voted to permit the sin of dancing on campus. As Chancellor of this evangelical Christian bastion, he performed the usual duties expected of any leader of an evangelical institution, covering up a rape scandal. The school’s first-ever Title IX coordinator promptly quit in frustration with the administration’s resistance, but not before documenting more than 400 rape cases.
Having served the Southern Baptists by covering up rapes, he now graduates to helping White Jesus escape justice. May God reward him richly, soon, and with eternal effect.
If it sometimes seems like Jay Sekulow has no idea what he’s talking about, that’s because he’s a professional entertainer who plays a lawyer on TV. He also plays drums in a band with the former lead singer of Kansas. I’m not making this up.
A bizarre religious nut with a law degree from Pat Robertson’s “university,” Sekulow struggled to make ends meet as just another amateur scam artist selling tax shelters in Atlanta. That career ended in the late 80’s with a $13 million bankruptcy and a securities fraud suit.
He climbed back into the saddle protecting abortion protesters, then landed a spot in the most lucrative business in evangelical religion – entertainment. He used a radio show to pimp his “non-profit” Christian legal defense organization called, creatively, the ACLJ. Its purpose was to end “Christian persecution,” apparently by making Sekulow and his family members stupid-rich. Money started rolling in, and by the early 90’s daddy was back in limos and private jets, where a humble servant of Christ belongs.
Borrowing tools learned in his tax shelter practice, Sekulow set up a complex machine for laundering millions in ACLJ donations toward himself and his family. His family has fleeced at least $33 million from this scam. Sekulow is a straight-up crook who will reap money from this circus regardless what happens to Trump.
Ray is a former Clinton prosecutor, later arrested for stalking a woman in a case that was hushed up and officially sealed. Apart from a few failed political campaigns and a bit of stalking, he’s maintained a low profile in private practice since the Clinton scandal.
A former assistant to William Barr, Cipollone’s clients include Laura Ingraham. Yes, that Laura Ingraham. One of his ten kids works on Ingraham’s Fox News show. He was appointed to replace the White House counsel who was fired for cooperating with prosecutors.
Cipollone is a real lawyer, with a formal education and a real practice with legitimate clients, so his presence on this team might seem odd without a few more details. He’s also a rabid right-wing Catholic, credited with “converting” Laura Ingraham to the faith. He volunteered to help Trump’s campaign team in 2016.
Herschmann is another real lawyer, but there are no straight professionals in Trumplandia. His firm is Kasowitz Benson Torres, the mob lawyers who have represented Trump for decades. They defended him in his divorces, bankruptcies, and the Trump University fraud cases. The firm has a thoroughly unsurprising practice protecting Russian “legitimate businessmen,” including Ihor Kolomoisky, one of the Ukrainian oligarchs implicated in the Trump-Ukraine “drug deal,” Oleg Deripaska, and Paul Manafort.
Herschmann helped Southern Union delay and reduce a multi-million dollar penalty for illegally storing chemical waste, an effort that earned him a spot as chairman of the company. That stake in Southern would net him a modest fortune when with the company was sold.
He keeps a very thin public profile, but his other recent work includes representing a Chinese “businessman” tied up in a complex money laundering scheme in Los Angeles. Herschmann is helping the Chinese defendants escape the seizure of the assets at the center of the scheme. In what seems to be one of the central qualifications for entry to Trumplandia, Herschmann served a turn protecting a prominent sex abuser.
To make matters more interesting, Herschmann was a large donor to the Kamala Harris campaign. He also supported Ted Cruz against Trump, and has been a sizable donor to Cory Booker.
Jane & Martin Raskin
A former mob prosecutor, Jane Raskin now earns a living on the other side of the bar. Husband, Martin focuses on commercial litigation. Together they are the least tainted members of this team, but they’re new. It is unclear where Jay Sekulow found this low-profile pair of Floridians, probably waiting in line at the prime-rib slicing station in the Mar-a-Lago buffet. Within a few months we’ll either discover their skeletons, or we’ll hear that they quietly resigned from the team after agreeing to cooperate with the DA. Nobody escapes Trumplandia with their soul.
As Trump aides, friends, and even an attorney head to prison for helping him, one can only hope that each of these folks gets their brush with justice. No one should ever forget what they’ve done.