Maggie Haberman’s Foray into Campaign Finance Journalism

I started unpacking this Maggie Haberman story yesterday morning.

It was an unusual story. Love or hate Maggie, she’s a really hard working journalist. But her forté is working phones, not documents.

Nevertheless, Maggie set out alone, without the involvement of an expert on documents generally or the FEC specifically (someone like David Fahrenthold) to explain why Jack Smith’s prosecutors are subpoenaing vendors of Trump’s Save America PAC.

The Justice Department has been subpoenaing documents from vendors paid by the PAC, including law firms, in an effort to determine what they were being paid for.

It seemed to be a follow-up to this story, which, by suggesting that JP Cooney had only joined the team with Smith’s hiring, falsely implied that DOJ had only started pursuing this angle after his appointment.

Three of his first hires — J.P. Cooney, Raymond Hulser and David Harbach — were trusted colleagues during Mr. Smith’s earlier stints in the department. Thomas P. Windom, a former federal prosecutor in Maryland who had been tapped in late 2021 by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s aides to oversee major elements of the Jan. 6 inquiry, remains part of the leadership team, according to several people familiar with the situation.

In addition to the documents and Jan. 6 investigations, Mr. Smith appears to be pursuing an offshoot of the Jan. 6 case, examining Save America, a pro-Trump political action committee, through which Mr. Trump raised millions of dollars with his false claims of election fraud. That investigation includes looking into how and why the committee’s vendors were paid.

In December, CNN reported that Cooney had been following the money for a year by that point, and even the NYT noted overt signs of that prong in September.

That earlier story nodded towards the same thing that this Daily Beast story, the January 6 Committee Report appendix on following the money, and this Campaign Legal Center complaint (the latter, focused on the 2020 campaign) did: Trump has apparently been treating campaign fundraising like a money laundering vehicle.

Go figure.

But Maggie, writing on her own, focuses instead on prospective crimes: the possibility that continuing to pay legal bills out of money raised starting in 2020 would be a different campaign finance violation.

Some of the $16 million appears to have been for lawyers representing witnesses in investigations related to Mr. Trump’s efforts to cling to power. But the majority of it — about $10 million — went to firms directly representing Mr. Trump in a string of investigations and lawsuits, including some related to his company, the filings showed.

Back in November, CLC did a report noting that Trump was doing that more generally, not just with lawyers.

All that’s not actually why I was interested in the story, but if you want an accounting of how much PAC money Trump is spending on legal services, Daily Beast’s tally includes the money spent by the MAGA PAC as well, adding up to $29.1 million since leaving office.

After I started unpacking Maggie’s story, I got distracted with the possibility that DOJ will tie Trump and Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman directly to the almost-murder of Michael Fanone. So, in the interim, Maggie broke the news that Smith’s prosecutors had subpoenaed Jared and Ivanka.

That story, written with Mike Schmidt, is exceptional only for the fact that they managed to avoid most of the hype about “aggressive steps” that peppers most reporting on Jack Smith. It pointed to things like the morning Oval Office meeting (Ivanka’s response to which her Chief of Staff Julie Radford was likely already questioned about, since — as the J6C Report noted explicitly — Radford was far more candid about it than Ivanka) and efforts to get Trump to call off his mob as likely topics of questioning.

Smith no doubt wants to get Jared and Ivanka’s stories about such topics locked in. Given questions about their candor before J6C, too, Smith will likely also give them an opportunity to revise their prior answers so they more closely match known facts.

Back to Maggie’s solo endeavor to read FEC filings.

There are two reasons I was interested in the story. First, having looked at FEC filings, Maggie seems to have discovered that the $195,000 in services that Boris Epshteyn billed to Save America PAC last year were not for legal services, but instead strategic consulting.

Another $1.3 million went to Silverman Thompson Slutkin and White, the firm of Evan Corcoran, a lawyer who began working with Mr. Trump last spring. Mr. Corcoran was brought into Mr. Trump’s orbit by Boris Epshteyn, a strategist who has played a coordinating role with some of the lawyers in cases involving Mr. Trump, as the investigation related to the Mar-a-Lago documents was heating up. (Mr. Epshteyn’s company was paid $195,000, but for broader strategic consulting, not legal consulting specifically.)

This is an important point, but one Maggie did not highlight (nor issue corrections on past stories). For the entirety of the time that Epshteyn was quarterbacking Trump’s response to the stolen documents probe, someone in his immediate vicinity has been telling reporters that he was playing a legal function, all the while billing Trump for the same old strategic consulting his firm, Georgetown Advisory, normally provides (though the two payments the campaign made to Epshteyn after Trump formalized his candidacy, totalling $30,000, were filed under “communications and legal consulting”).

NYT has, in various stories including Maggie in the byline, described Epshteyn’s role in the stolen documents case as “an in-house counsel who helps coordinate Mr. Trump’s legal efforts,” “in-house counsel for the former president who has become one of his most trusted advisers,” and “who has played a central role in coordinating lawyers on several of the investigations involving Mr. Trump.” Another even describes that Epshteyn “act[ed] as [a] lawyer [] for the Trump campaign.” The other day, Maggie described his role instead as “broader strategic consulting.”

All the time that NYT was describing Epshteyn as playing a legal role — and NYT is in no way alone in this — he was telling the Feds he wasn’t playing a legal function, he was instead playing a strategic consulting one. Many if not most of these stories also post-date the time, in September, when the FBI seized Epshteyn’s phone, which would give him a really good reason to try to claim to be a lawyer and not a political consultant.

DOJ is more likely to take FEC’s word on this issue than claims Epshteyn made to the press after his phone seizure.

Like I said, virtually every media outlet seems to be repeating the claim that Epshteyn has been playing a legal, not political role. But there’s one Maggie story, in particular, where the question of Epshteyn’s role is central: This story, quoting Eric Herschmann calling Epshteyn (and Evan Corcoran) idiots, a habit that made Herschmann a star witness for the January 6 Committee. Herschmann’s glee about calling Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, John Eastman, and now Epshteyn and Corcoran idiots always distracted from sketchier aspects of Herschmann’s behavior, such as Keith Kellogg’s puzzlement about why a lawyer sat in the Oval Office while Trump ordered Mike Pence to break the law and said nothing.

Anyway, this Maggie story focusing on Epshteyn’s role not only called him an idiot, but also insinuated he was witness tampering.

To the extent anyone is regarded as a quarterback of the documents and Jan. 6-related legal teams, it is Boris Epshteyn, a former campaign adviser and a graduate of the Georgetown University law school. Some aides tried to block his calls to Mr. Trump in 2020, according to former White House officials, but Mr. Epshteyn now works as an in-house counsel to Mr. Trump and speaks with him several times a day.

Mr. Epshteyn played a key role coordinating efforts by a group of lawyers for and political allies of Mr. Trump immediately after the 2020 election to prevent Joseph R. Biden Jr. from becoming president. Because of that role, he has been asked to testify in the state investigation in Georgia into the efforts to reverse Mr. Biden’s victory there.

Mr. Epshteyn’s phone was seized by the F.B.I. last week as part of the broad federal criminal inquiry into the attempts to overturn the election results and the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.


In his emails to Mr. Corcoran and Mr. Rowley, Mr. Herschmann — a prominent witness for the House select committee on Jan. 6 and what led to it — invoked Mr. Corcoran’s defense of Mr. Bannon and argued pointedly that case law about executive privilege did not reflect what Mr. Corcoran believed it did.

Mr. Herschmann made clear in the emails that absent a court order precluding a witness from answering questions on the basis of executive privilege, which he had repeatedly implored them to seek, he would be forced to testify.

“I certainly am not relying on any legal analysis from either of you or Boris who — to be clear — I think is an idiot,” Mr. Herschmann wrote in a different email. “When I questioned Boris’s legal experience to work on challenging a presidential election since he appeared to have none — challenges that resulted in multiple court failures — he boasted that he was ‘just having fun,’ while also taking selfies and posting pictures online of his escapades.”


In language that mirrored the federal statute against witness tampering, Mr. Herschmann told Mr. Corcoran that Mr. Epshteyn, himself under subpoena in Georgia, “should not in any way be involved in trying to influence, delay or prevent my testimony.”

“He is not in a position or qualified to opine on any of these issues,” Mr. Herschmann said.

Mr. Epshteyn declined to respond to a request for comment. [my emphasis]

The story ends by reporting that Herschmann’s, “testimony was postponed.”

I’m not aware of any report that describes Herschmann has been called back to testify.

The story is dated September 16, 2022.

Two days earlier, Cassidy Hutchinson had testified to the January 6 Committee (after already beginning to cooperate with DOJ) that after she testified on May 17 that Herschmann was present for a conversation about Trump saying that “Hang Mike Pence” chants were justified, her then-lawyer Stefan Passantino seemingly contacted Herschmann who then called Hutchinson and told her, “I didn’t know that you remembered so much.”

Ms. Cheney. When Stefan said “I’ll talk to some people,” do you know who he was referring to?

Ms. Hutchinson. I didn’t ask. assume it was the same entourage of people that he had been conferring with for the past few weeks.

You know, I had also received a call from Eric Herschmann, I believe on Friday, May 20th. I believe it was Friday, May 20th. It was, because this was after the interview.

And Eric called me that evening, and I just apologized. And he was like, you know, “I didn’t know that you remembered so much, Cassidy. Mark [Meadows] really put you in bad positions. I’m really sorry that he didn’t take care of you better. You never should’ve had to testify to any of that. That’s all of our jobs. I don’t know why they didn’t ask us, they asked you instead.”

And I was just like, “Look, Eric like, it is what it is.” And he kind of talked for — it was probably a 30-minute conversation.

In the same J6C appearance two days before that Maggie story painting Ephsteyn as a witness tamperer, Hutchinson told the committee that she suspected that Passantino had spoken to Maggie about her testimony, something that, if true, would have had the effect of sharing her testimony with other witnesses without appearing to obstruct the investigation. She also described Alex Cannon to be involved in the outreach to Maggie.

The next day, September 15, Hutchinson provided the committee more detail about Passantino’s alleged efforts to share her testimony with Herschmann and others. Passantino told her to call Trump’s lawyer, Justin Clark, as well as Alex Cannon and Eric Herschmann, Hutchinson told the committee on September 15.

The day after my third interview with the committee, on Wednesday, May 18th, Stefan let me know that I — he spoke with Justin Clark, Alex Cannon, and Eric Herschmann and suggested that I call — that I have a call with all three of them.

I reached out to initiate the call with Alex Cannon and Justin Clark per Stefan’s instruction. And the that Friday, May 20th, received a call on Signal from Eric Herschmann.

So on September 14, Hutchinson told J6C about behavior involving Herschmann resembling witness tampering, including behavior involving Maggie Haberman! On September 15, Hutchinson told J6C about behavior involving Herschmann resembling witness tampering. And on September 16, Maggie Haberman quoted Herschmann blaming Epshteyn for any witness tampering.

All that background is why I find the way Maggie ended her foray into campaign finance journalism so interesting. She quotes anonymous sources — not the public J6C transcripts showing that Passantino and Alex Cannon were sourcing her earlier reporting on this — attributing Hutchinson’s testimony as the genesis of this focus on paying law firms.

The questions of which lawyers and vendors have been paid, and for what, intensified after the House select committee investigating Mr. Trump’s efforts to cling to power told the Justice Department that it had evidence that a lawyer representing a witness had tried to coach her testimony in ways that would be favorable to Mr. Trump. The witness in question was later identified by people familiar with the committee’s work as Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide.

Her lawyer at the time, Stefan Passantino, was a former White House deputy counsel under Mr. Trump and was paid through Save America.

The reason I’m interested in this is because the point of Passantino’s alleged efforts to coach Hutchinson’s testimony was not, primarily, to protect Trump. According to Hutchinson’s testimony, at least, it was to protect Eric Herschmann, someone who has had tremendous success (like his close associate Jared Kushner) laundering his reputation through Maggie Haberman.

Ms. Hutchinson. ~ You previously asked about individuals he had raised with me. In my conversation with him earlier that afternoon, when I [sic] asking him about the engagement letter, I did also ask Stefan if he was representing any other January 6th clients. And he had said, “No one that I believe that you would have any conflicts with.”

And I said, “Would you mind letting me know?” Now, again, to this day, I still don’t know if that’s really a kosher question to ask an attorney, if they can share their clients with me, but I wanted to make sure that there actually weren’t any conflicts, because I didn’t have anything in writing.

He wouldn’t tell me anybody he was representing before the January 6th Committee, but he did tell me that he had previously represented Eric Herschmann and Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in unrelated matters.

And in that same conversation, he said, “So if you have any conversations with any of them, especially Eric Herschmann, we want to really work to protect Eric Herschmann.”

And I remember saying sarcastically to him, “Eric can handle himself. Eric has his own resources. Why do I have to protect Eric?” He said, “No, no, no. Like, just to keep everything straight, like, we want to protect Eric with all of this.”

Ms. Cheney. Did he explain what he meant?

Ms. Hutchinson. No. And, to be honest, I didn’t ask. I didn’t have anything with Eric anyway that I felt that I had to protect. And I say that because, at the time of being back in Trump world — this is where I look back and regret some of this, but — like, I did feel a need to protect certain people. But with somebody like Eric, I didn’t feel that need, I didn’t find it necessary.  didn’t — I didn’t think that Eric did anything wrong at the time.

Ms. Cheney. Did it have something to do with NARA?

Ms. Hutchinson. He never really explained to me what it was exactly that we wanted to protect Eric on. I sort of erred on the side of: Maybe he just represents Eric in ongoing litigation, whether it’s financial disclosures or whatever it might be.

And, again, I just didn’t prod too much on that either, because, you know, I was under the impression that Eric helped set me up with Stefan, so I didn’t — I was worried that Stefan would then go back-channel to Eric and — this is my very paranoid brain at the time, but I was worried that if I, you know, pushed this subject a little too much, that he would then go back to Eric Herschmann and say, “Cassidy asked a lot of questions about you, like, why she needs to protect you.” So just didn’t really press the subject too much on that.

And as Hutchinson learned somewhat belatedly, Passantino had business ties to Alex Cannon and, possibly, Herschmann.

So I — “I want to make sure that I’m getting the dates right with these things?

He goes, “No, no, no.” He said, “Look, we want to get you in, get you out.

We’re going to downplay your role. You were a secretary. You had an administrative role. Everyone’s on the same page about this. It’s extremely unfair that they’re” “they’re” being the committee – “that the committee is putting you in this position in the first place. You really have nothing to do with any of this. It’s Mark’s fault that you’re even involved in this. We’re completely happy to be taking care of you now. We had no idea that you weren’t being taken care of this last year. So we’re really happy that you reached back out to us. But the less you remember, the better. I don’t think that you should be filling in any calendars or anything.”

[Redacted] When he said a

Ms. Cheney. Go ahead.

[Redacted] So everyone’s on the same page about this, did he explain who he was referring to when he said “everyone”?

Ms. Hutchinson. He didn’t at that moment. Then there are times throughout my working relationship with Stefan where he said similar things that I asked.

Later that day, sort of put together that the “they” he was referring to then were Justin Clark, Alex Cannon, Eric Herschmann. I think that’s — yeah, think that’s all of them.

Ms. Cheney. And how did you put that together?

Ms. Hutchinson.  Because he — he had said that — Justin — yeah, Justin Clark. Stefan had told me that — towards the end of the day that because he was involved with Elections, LLC, and tangentially, I guess Trump’s PACs, he had law partners. And unless I was extremely unwilling for him to share, he said it would be natural for him to have to share that information with the people that he works with that are his partners that are involved in Trump world.

That is, Hutchinson testified that Passantino’s alleged effort to coach her testimony was not (necessarily) an effort to protect Trump. It was an effort to protect his business scheme, a business scheme that may have included Herschmann.

In Maggie’s foray into campaign finance journalism, she did not calculate payments to Elections LLC in her discussion of law firms paid by Save America PAC, though it was paid upwards of $400,000 since Trump left office. The last of those payments — for $10,000 — was on December 7, after Trump formalized his 2024 presidential bid. So if Maggie’s right that these payments are illegal, then that $10,000 would be one of the first overt acts in this new criminal exposure.

As it happens, all this ties back to Maggie’s newest story breaking the news of a subpoena to Ivanka and Jared. I’m sure Jack Smith wants to ask Ivanka and Jared about their efforts to get dad to call off his mob.

But he may also want to know why Herschmann — a lawyer whose legal status in the White House remains entirely unexplained — why Herschmann, according to Pat Cipollone’s testimony, told the White House Counsel not to join in that Oval Office meeting where Trump ordered Pence to break the law because “this is family.”

“This is family,” Cipollone said Herschmann told him before he walked in the door. “You don’t need to be here.”

I would imagine that Jack Smith wants to know why, at that moment when Trump prepared to give his Vice President an illegal order, Herschmann was treated as family.

Update: Anna Bower informed me that Epshteyn told the Fulton County Grand Jury that he,

served as a legal, communications, and policy advisor to President Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign; and he continues to serve as legal counsel to President Trump to this day.

He cited NY state’s bar rules to argue that his ethical obligations extend well beyond attorney-client privilege.

In contrast, the client confidences that Mr. Epshteyn is required to safeguard as a New York-licensed attorney pursuant to Rule 1.6 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct (“NYRPC”)4 reach a broader and less easily identifiable array of communications and information. Like its corollary rule in virtually every U.S. jurisdiction, NYRPC 1.6 provides that “[a] lawyer shall not knowingly reveal confidential information … or use such information to the disadvantage of a client or for the advantage of the lawyer or a third person” absent client consent or “to comply with other law or court order.” NYRPC l.6(a)-(b). The rule defines “Confidential Information” to mean “information gained during or relating to the representation of a client, whatever its source, that is (a) protected by the attorney-client privilege, (b) likely to be embarrassing or detrimental to the client if disclosed, or ( c) information that the client has requested be kept confidential.” NYRPC 1.6(a)(3). The duty to preserve client confidences under Rule 1.6 is much broader that the attorney-client privilege, it includes any information gained during the representation regardless of its nature or source, and it necessarily includes information that is not subject to any other privilege or protection, provided that it is not already generally known in the community.

Epshteyn has always had a far stronger case he was working in a legal role starting in April or May of last year than while he was on the campaign (where he was described by other witnesses, like Jenna Ellis was also described, as playing a PR role).

In public comments from Emily Kohrs, she suggested that Rudy, who was barred in NY still when he represented Trump during the 2020 election, provided thoughtful question by question answers about whether he could answer questions.

74 replies
  1. Sloth Sloman says:

    Every day I feel dumber for thinking Herschmann was reasonable. I hadn’t remembered him from the first impeachment until after the J6 hearings.

    He really is part of the family.

    Thank you for your relentless work keeping the spotlight on these guys (and the reporting of them).

    • Ravenous hoarde says:

      I feel the same way. His stupid wall panda had me fooled. Then it was pointed out he had a role in attempting to push the HB laptop story to WSJ.

      “ Eric Herschmann, a former private practice attorney at a Trump law firm, currently holds the title of “Senior Advisor to the President.” He and two other men with close ties to the administration, Arthur Schwartz and Stefan Passantino, reportedly met with WSJ reporter Michael Bender earlier this month, providing Bender with documents purportedly linking the former vice president to his son’s foreign business dealings with China.”

      Then it made sense why a seemingly more competent Michael Cohen type was in Trump’s orbit. He’s just as dirty and low as the rest. But he understands that plenty of people aren’t in the Trump cult and aren’t amused by Trumpian antics. But we can be amused by weird wall art and a well placed dig at John Eastman.

      Hell, I’m still figuring out my feelings on the guy with the “oil spill” dig at Bossert Clark.

      • bmaz says:

        I am not sure Michael Cohen is as stupid or incompetent as is easily assumed. On the wrong side of history as to Trump for far too long, yes. But if you listen to him talk at any length, he sounds less stupid than automatically assumed. I mean, Gerry Spence Michael Cohen is not, but not quite as dumb as he seemed.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Cohen isn’t stupid. I read his first book and found it significantly more entertaining and insightful than Haberman’s tome on Trump. While he is wrestling, tardily, with his own ego-driven alliance with a bullying boss, Cohen remains capable of articulating that struggle unlike anyone else. Sometimes the flawed messenger conveys the message best.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes. But in criminal law, irrespective of which side you are on, the “messengers” are very often very flawed. It is what it is.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Not just criminal law, bmaz. As a research journalist I typically find that sources contradict themselves, and whatever gleaming point I wish they would prove. It’s human nature–and why I write fiction too, where stories can be messy.

        • BobBobCon says:

          To link this back to Haberman, I think it’s telling that Cohen has done a much better job explaining Trump’s motives and methods than she did in her book.

          Or to be more precise, after Trump stopped being his client, Cohen started being insightful.

          Which is not to say that I think Trump-Haberman is a client-PR rep relationship, exactly. Haberman is Haberman’s real client. But Trump has made himself a useful tool in helping her represent herself and her interests, and I don’t think she’ll ever do as well as Cohen in talking intelligently about Trump.

        • Gary Kline says:

          From what I’d learned, it’s not even a laptop. It’s a hard drive. And in fact, Giuliani got a copy of the original, so none of the actual hardware is original. From there, chain of custody was completely broken. And with Giuliani’s ties to Ukrainian and Russian hackers, he could’ve easily enlisted them to fabricate content to look like they were from Hunter Biden. It ends up all a sham. Because if there was any damning dirt from it, Giuliani would’ve compiled it into a document and then pushed it out to expose Hunter and make Joe Biden look bad. That never happened.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Two points in passing. As you know, Hutchinson’s lawyer passing anything to anyone not working for one of her lawyers, vitiates a-c privilege as to those communications. It would be malpractice to do so without the client’s consent.

    Journalists seem to be playing fast and loose with the characterization of “in-house counsel.” A lawyer working for an individual or group of people is just their lawyer. To be an in-house counsel requires working for a named legal entity. The relationship can be retainer-based, but is most often an employment relationship, and it’s that party that pays the bills. (If not, there are hoops to jump through, of the type TFG usually ignores.) It often requires working exclusively with that entity, unless the arrangement is described as part-time in-house counsel, which is not common. So which is it?

    • Peterr says:

      It’s not just journalists who are playing fast and loose with characterizations around the relationships between lawyers, purported clients, and third parties who are paying for someone else’s legal representation. Hence the requests/subpoenas from Smith for any *written* agreements outlining the lawyer-client relationships, any agreements about payments by third parties for such representation, and any agreements in which the client is told about these relationships.

      • JVO says:

        I’m with Peterr on this. As I last recall, the model rules, and the ALL state’s attorney rules of professional conduct, require notice in writing and signed authorization for such third-party payments of “attorneys fees.” The mixing in of “consulting” and etc. services doesn’t matter. Of course, Boris won’t care if he loses his law license.

  3. Dryly 41 says:

    Please note Special Counsel John Durham is STILL spending taxpayers money presumably writing a report on his Russia, Russia, Russia Hoax findings.

  4. Leon Pascucci says:

    Terrific deep dive into Haberman’s reporting. She has indeed functioned as a laundress for the Trump crime family. She accepts no criticism, fair or not, and I have corresponded with her to little avail. Great work here, Marcy.

  5. Peterr says:

    As I read through this, I kept going back to “Why is Maggie diving into documents?” As Marcy notes, that’s not only not her forte, but runs counter to her access journalism approach to life.

    Going back through it again, this jumped out at me:

    But there’s one Maggie story, in particular, where the question of Epshteyn’s role is central: This story, quoting Eric Herschmann calling Epshteyn (and Evan Corcoran) idiots, a habit that made Herschmann a star witness for the January 6 Committee. Herschmann’s glee about calling Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, John Eastman, and now Epshteyn and Corcoran idiots always distracted from sketchier aspects of Herschmann’s behavior, such as Keith Kellogg’s puzzlement about why a lawyer sat in the Oval Office while Trump ordered Mike Pence to break the law and said nothing.

    Could it be that Maggie has belatedly realized that she was used by Herschmann for his own ends, and rather than directly calling him out as a source who lied to her, she’s trying to skewer him with document-driven evidence? In her mind, this would let her keep confidentiality with her source — even a source who lied (not told her something that turned out not to be true, but who lied) — while also trying to punish him.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Peterr, that jumped out at me too. The problem with Haberman re: Hirschmann is that she was also using him for the purpose of sustaining her credible access within the Trump camp. He was, as EW points out, “family.” She knew that.

      What I find interesting is the timing of this burn, if that’s what it is. Has she decided he’s no longer useful? If he proves of use, she can pretend she wasn’t coming for him here. After all, this isn’t her usual turf.

    • BobBobCon says:

      I don’t think turning on sources for feeding bad information is how the Times political desk works. As holes in their 2016 election coverage emerged, there’s no sign they ever exposed what was going on with their faulty FBI sources, for example.

      It’s possible, though, Haberman is signalling a shift in who her sources are, and Haberman is following the lead of someone who wants to damage that faction.

      I think there is a lot of maneuvering in the background of the GOP in hopes of a 2024 run, and instead of covering any of the real back biting, we get this from Haberman.

      The game is there in the subhed of this article, which simply says “there are questions” without ever really saying who is asking. She eventually quotes a couple of people supporting the idea that questions exist, but makes no case for who is pushing the issue.

      This may be as much as anything her signal to her new side to show where her loyalties are.

      • Peterr says:

        Re the “I don’t think turning on sources for feeding bad information is how the Times political desk works” opening . . .

        I agree, in that it requires the reporter/editor/newspaper to admit that they got fooled — not something they are fond of doing.

        • BobBobCon says:

          And even if they don’t want to admit a specific problem, they could fix the underlying systemic problem.

          Post Judith Miller, there was a general admission in the press that anonymous sourcing had gotten completely out of control. It was hurting the quality of reporting and the press was regularly getting burned by untrustworthy background sources.

          The Times political desk has learned nothing since then.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        As ever, Haberman is keeping her options open. She won’t want to be left out when a frontrunner emerges, whether it’s regarding 2024 or gaming the Special Counsel inquiry.

  6. Rayne says:

    “…Trump has apparently been treating campaign fundraising like a money laundering vehicle.

    But Maggie, writing on her own, focuses instead on prospective crimes: the possibility that continuing to pay legal bills out of money raised starting in 2020 would be a different campaign finance violation.”

    Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
    [a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
    Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
    Captain Renault: Oh, thank you very much.

    Haberman = Renault

    Trump wouldn’t have been elected let alone continued to occupy the White House his full term had he not been regularly grifting to pay his mobsters. It was going on under her nose and she’s only *now* beginning to dabble in this aspect of grift, two years after he left office? But that’s because until now our Captain Haberman Renault has studiously turned a blind eye to the grift to maintain her phone access.

    I feel like I need a shower to wash away the sleaze after every examination of Renault’s, I mean, Haberman’s hacktastic reporting. She may be hard working but it’s like cleaning the casino after everybody’s conveniently gotten their cut and fled the scene.

    • posaune says:

      Right on, Rayne! sleaze is the right word!
      That hack irritates me to no end. . . .
      . . . . . why this is such a satisfying post.

    • BobBobCon says:

      Her news blackout from late 2019 into the first couple of months of 2020 on Trump’s Covid paralysis and denial is inexcusable.

      If there was ever a time to call in favors for all of the access she had granted for so many years, that was the time. She couldn’t be bothered.

      • Gary Kline says:

        How about Bob Woodward? In the first month of awareness about COVID19 reaching the USA, Woodward had already been interviewing and observing Trump for months. He then talked with him about the virus. Trump had been briefed and told Bob just how deadly this virus could be. Then, facing the public he said something totally different–downplayed it like “a regular flu.” Woodward should’ve been maddened by that. We lost nearly 4 valuable months while Trump misled the public, even calling COVID19 a hoax. And what, no ramifications for a president who willfully lies to the people and puts them in danger? If there ever was a case for impeachment, it was that.

        • timbozone says:

          This. Apparently, trying to keep people healthy is no longer what the chief of state for the US is supposed to be about? Not even a little?

        • JVO says:

          I agree with this excellent snipe shot on BobW. He knew Nixon was a crook for some time but had to sit on it. Does he think the situations compare? COVID19 – Prez lying to public and very serious potential for millions of Americans dying in months to years VERSUS Prez arranging and then lying to public about breaking-in and bugging of rival’s office.

  7. Ebenezer Scrooge says:

    About the duty to preserve confidence. It does indeed go far beyond the attorney-client privilege. But it only means that an attorney should keep their mouth shut about their client’s affairs, unless authorized by the client or legally compelled to speak. (There are limited exceptions.) Unlike the privilege, it offers no protection against legal compulsion, such as a subpoena.

  8. John Colvin says:

    The stakes were recently raised with respect to situations in which lawyers are providing something other than legal services in addition to legal services. In a case called In re Grand Jury, 23 F.4th 1088 (9th Cir. 2022), the Ninth Circuit held that, with respect to so-called “dual purpose” communications, it was necessary to determine the “primary purpose” in order to determine if the attorney client privilege applied.
    Lawyers (who were preparing tax returns for the client in addition to advising about the tax consequences of expatriation) were subpoenaed by the government in a tax investigation. After losing their fight in the district court and the Ninth Circuit, the law firm sought certiorari, citing a conflict with a DC Circuit case decided by Justice Kavanaugh when he was on that court (In re Kellogg Brown & Root, 756 F.3d 754 (D.C. Cir. 2014)), which had held that “primary purpose” should be construed as “a significant legal purpose.”
    The Supreme Court granted certiorari in light of the apparent conflict. Oral argument was held on January 9, 2023, but then the case was dismissed on January 23, 2023 on the grounds that certiorari had been “improvidently granted.”
    While I can only speculate as to the reason(s) for the dismissal, certainly any situation where a lawyer is also functioning in an non-legal capacity, there is a significant risk that the non-legal aspects will be found to be primary and no privilege will attach. Hershmann’s billings for “strategic consulting” may help vitiate privilege claims.

    • Just Some Guy says:

      Might I also suggest Matmos’s “Ultimate Care II”?

      Ultimate Care II consists entirely of sounds produced by the musicians’ Whirlpool Ultimate Care II washing machine, recorded in their basement. It features guest contributors Dan Deacon, Jason Willett from Half Japanese, Max Eilbacher and Sam Haberman from Horse Lords, and Duncan Moore from Needle Gun. The album consists of one 38-minute-long track, described in a press release as depicting “an exploded view of the machine, hearing it in normal operation, but also as an object being rubbed and stroked and drummed upon and prodded and sampled and sequenced and processed by the duo”.

      When Matmos toured for this album, they actually took the washing machine on tour with them!

    • John Lehman says:

      1. Klezamir modern +
      2. Country and Western interpretive.
      Interesting modified genres
      Quite the laundering schemes inspired by politicians

  9. harpie says:

    From Hugo Lowell: [I haven’t read this because I didn’t sign up]

    Classified Trump schedules were moved to Mar-a-Lago after FBI search – sources Exclusive: Junior aide took the box, including some classified documents, from a government-leased office in Palm Beach to Mar-a-Lago Hugo Lowell Fri 24 Feb 2023

    4:09 AM · Feb 24, 2023

    This Guardian story answers key questions about how FBI missed classified docs in August search: because they were in the Bungalow. But it doesn’t address two key issues. [THREAD]

    • harpie says:

      That “junior aide”‘s name is CHAMBERLAIN HARRIS
      10:08 AM · Feb 24, 2023

      Dear Chamberlain Harris: If you remove the reference to Russia from your LinkedIn bio AFTER people see and screen cap it, it’s only going to raise more questions about your access to classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

      I mean, honey, let me tell you about the kinds of legal process the FBI can serve on LinkedIn, particularly after someone does something suspicious with their LinkedIn bio [MORE like this]

      CapitolHunters also did a THREAD:
      10:12 AM · Feb 24, 2023

      Journalists have been respectfully not naming the young aide to Trump who had classified files on her laptop but when she wipes her 2019 trip to St. Petersburg, Russia off her LinkedIn it’s time to name Chamberlain Harris. [THREAD]

        • timbozone says:

          Only the best for the Trump White House? Of course, she got the job because of her Russian connections… Now? It’s a problem.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I thought she meant “SUNY cum laude.”

          Her poor English language skills seem at odds with her rapid rise in Trumpworld, both in and after his administration. Also at odds in so ordinarily an over-edited a document as a public c.v. (resume for Ms. Harris’s benefit). She’s not covering herself in laude.

        • harpie says:

          Did you read to the end of that CH THREAD? I didn’t know:

          This is the second LinkedIn wipe of the Mar-a-Lago documents scandal, the other being Josh Lorence, husband of Judge Aileen Cannon (wiped betw. Sep. 9-16, 2022). He worked for Florida-based ex-New York mobster John Rosatti. 5/ [2 MORE tweets]

          I literally shouted… “You have GOT to be kidding me!”

        • Rayne says:

          It’s like they stopped trying. How did we not catch the Cannon-Lorence link before now?

          I swear we’re going to have to do opposition research on every single one of the cast of characters.

        • timbozone says:

          If true, this makes more sense out of Cannon’s wonky attempts to intervene on Trump’s behalf. I still think Cannon met with Trump at some functions, possibly even at Mar-a-Lago, after Trump left office. Hopefully more information will be forthcoming one way or the other. Her weird intervention and attempt to make up new legal precedents on the fly that benefit Trump specifically in the documents case is not and never was normal.

    • harpie says:

      Here’s the TL information I’ve gotten from the above THREADs:

      5/XX/18 – 6/XX/18 Study abroad: MADRID, Spain
      5/XX/18 – 5/XX/19 Turning Point USA at SUNY Albany, Vice President
      [11/XX/18 > 3/XX/19 Acting President]

      During that time I handled administrative duties for the club along with creating events and holding weekly meetings. I tabled for the first half of the semester and planned topics for weekly meetings. I was responsible for recruitment to SAS and the Youth Leadership School ran [sic] by the Leadership Institute.

      3/XX/19 – 5/XX/19 Coding Assistant RESEARCH // FOUNDATION OF SUNY
      7/XX/19 – 8/XX19 Study abroad: ST. PETERSBURG, Russia
      9/XX/19 – 12/XX/19 White House Intern Executive Office of the President, The White House [Office of American Innovation Intern]
      2/XX/20 – 1/XX/21 Executive Office of the President, White House Office, Office of Management and Administration

      8/XX/20 > 1/XX/21 Receptionist of the United States (ROTUS), White House Management and Administration

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Still doesn’t seem to answer why she had them, on whose behalf, and what she did with them, as authorized by her employer or on her own.

        As EW points out, her lame attempt to hide a potentially significant Russian connection from 2019, while Trump was still el presidente, is not going to help keep her below the radar.

        • harpie says:

          No, but I wanted to get the timing of things sorted out a little.

          Chamberlain HARRIS basically went from:

          [Charlie Kirk’s] TPUSA, [doing a little coding on the way]
          to study abroad in Russia,
          to the Executive Office of the President [internship],
          and soon thereafter, a permanent job there.

          I haven’t yet looked into the timing of how her employment evolved to Junior Aide at MAL after TRUMP left office.

        • Rayne says:

          Do we have background on Harris going back to parentage and place of birth? There’s something hinky about identity here.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          If her middle name is Ruth, and she is about 23 years old, this may be her father’s obituary:

          “Jeffrey R. Harris, 48,….is the loving husband of Tina L. Hulsey Harris; he is the best friend and cherished dad of Chamberlain Ruth Harris, 16 years old and Braxton Randel Harris, 13 years old.; dear brother of Jim Harris Jr (Lori Anne), Jill Johnson and Lan Jin Harris; son-in-law of Pam Hulsey and the late Steve Hulsey; brother–in-law of Wade Hulsey (Eve); uncle of Danny, Brian, Abby, Brianna Harris, and Oliver Hulsey.”

        • Rayne says:

          Oh my. Assuming this is the same person, she was vulnerable. Have to wonder who was mentoring her if at all.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Perfect arrow to add to the quiver marked, To Be Rolled Under the Bus. Attractive, apparently with money from the right sources, bright but painfully naive and willing to please.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Harris seems to have the usual early Breck Girl look, typical of many of Trump’s aides. As already noted above, she was a WH intern, starting immediately after her return from a short study abroad in Russia in 2019 through some time in January 2021.

          Her study abroad was a few weeks in Madrid in “May-June,” 2018, followed by a few more weeks in St. Petersburg, Russia, in “July-August,” 2019. Not much in the way of bragging rights, except for a neophyte. No mention of her language skills or their level.

          The article (site details separated because I don’t know the source), notes what we have here: how could someone who earned a B.A. in political science from SUNY, summa cum laude, misspell “suma” and “laud?”

          https:// trumps-laptop-aide-worked-at-wh-right-after-her-return-from-russia/

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Not meant as a criticism of your lovely work, just an observation that the story of Chamberlain Harris has yet to come out.

        • emptywheel says:

          I did a post on this, where y’all can move this discussion. Trying not to make too big a deal of this, but what a stupid thing she did to herself.

        • harpie says:

          Here’s SourceWatch on “The Leadership Institute“:

          According to the group’s website, the Leadership Institute was founded in 1979 by its president, Morton C. Blackwell. “LI provides training in campaigns, fundraising, grassroots organizing, youth politics, and communications. The Institute teaches conservatives of all ages how to succeed in politics, government, and the media. […]

          Campus Leadership Program

          “The Leadership Institute identifies, organizes, and trains conservative college students to promote and defend their values on campus. Tomorrow’s conservative leaders begin their activism and political careers with the Institute’s campus programs today. LI’s unique network includes more than 1,884 campus groups in all 50 states.”

          Their website:
          “Leadership Institute Graduates Are Everywhere!”

        • harpie says:

          On the Board of Directors, besides BLACKWELL, I recognize
          “Ed CORRIGAN, Secretary”, from J6TL work.

          Also, Mitch MCCONNELL is the FIRST name on the “Past Students” list, and I recognize Jason MILLER, “Young conservative leader”, from J6TL work [TRUMP campaign].

          Oooof! That list! [I’m not sure when it was compiled]

        • harpie says:

          1/28/19 Your Campus Group Survival Guide
          Morton C. Blackwell
          So, you want to lead a successful conservative or libertarian student group on your campus. Perhaps you already lead one. It will be your responsibility to lead your group to success, including long-term organizational survival. You must expand your leadership, grow your membership, and train good successors to build your legacy. This manual will teach you how. […]
          [END QUOTE]

          From above TL:
          5/XX/18 – 5/XX/19 Turning Point USA at SUNY Albany, Vice President [11/XX/18 > 3/XX/19 Acting President]
          HARRIS: […] I was responsible for recruitment to SAS and the Youth Leadership School ran [sic] by the Leadership Institute.

        • harpie says:

          A few years ago, RAYNE transcribed FLYNN’s November 2016 [after the election] speech to Young Americans for Freedom:

          The campus leadership brochure seems to indicate that the young “leaders” work together with YAF, as well as TPUSA.

          The whole thing strikes me as like getting involved in some pyramid scheme or something…

          …to be successful, you MUST, you have a “moral obligation” to increase your phone number list and membership rosters.

          These organizations seem DESIGNED to:

          LOCATE , ENTICE and EXPLOIT vulnerable young people…
          for the BENEFIT of the creators…
          kind of like a CULT.

        • earthworm says:

          replying to harpie, “grooming, imo,” & EoH, indirectly:
          it has been striking in the the GOP and trump administrations employment of women that they follow EoH’s perceptive description (applied to harris) of having the “usual early Breck girl look.”
          even elise stefanik, ronna romney mcdaniel, and sarah huckabee sanders have emerged from recent makeovers to more closely adhere to the flowing locks and other enhancements of the early Breck girl look.

        • Rayne says:

          The language Flynn used then was both bat shit loony and seditious. We literally should have seen January 6 coming based on this speech intended to groom and radicalize YAF’s audience.

          I swear that video used to have comments; they’re shut off now.

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