For the second time this month, a White House lawyer has been caught discussing a sensitive internal issue with a prankster posing as a White House staffer. Go ahead and read that sentence again.
Earlier this month, it was President Trump's lawyer, Ty Cobb, discussing the Russia investigation with an emailer posing as White House social media director Dan Scavino. Now as Business Insider's Natasha Bertrand reports, it's Jared Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, chewing over Kushner's private emails with the same prankster posing as Kushner.
The latest exchange doesn't seem to be all that damning — the emails feature the faux Kushner asking about whether he should delete emails containing “adult content” and Lowell giving him pretty sound legal advice — but it does raise a very simple question: How did this happen again?
I wrote last Monday about the many foibles of Trump's lawyers. A day after that post went up, Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, had his interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee canceled after he allegedly broke an agreement about speaking to the media. And now this.
It was clear in early September, when the prankster's first exchange with Cobb became public, that there is somebody out there trying to hoodwink the White House's lawyers. The fact that it happened again with Lowell suggests that any efforts to avoid a repeat have apparently failed — if there even were any.
Again, the newest prank was more “ha-ha” than “uh-oh” — Lowell told Kushner “Don't delete. Don't send to anyone. Let's chat in a bit.” — but it's not difficult to imagine something juicier coming of these exchanges. The stakes are huge here, and not even the most studied and judicious people working for the White House seem to be taking the proper precautions.
Some have argued that Lowell handled this exactly as he should have. Above The Law summarizes it in a pithy headline — “Abbe Lowell Falls For Internet Prank, Still Gives Good Advice” — and reasons that he did a good job not discussing too much via email and saying they should talk on the phone.
Others say Lowell may have undercut his initial statement about Kushner's private emails by appearing to say in the emails with the prankster that he hadn't seen all of them. Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti says Lowell, as a lawyer, should have seen the emails before making a statement like that, to make sure his client wasn't mistaken and that the statement wouldn't undermine their credibility later on.
Okay, maybe. But most of all, when someone emails you asking about what to do with emails featuring “half naked women on a trampoline,” you might want to check the address. On second thought, if you work for the White House, you should always check the address.