The largest legal expense in the Donald Trump campaign is not a big name Washington or New York legal outfit, but a little known Beverly Hills law firm – but why?
Harder LLP has been taking the lion’s share of Trump’s legal expenditure with a $2 million payout in the past two years and more to come as it plays the Trump playbook of attacking media outlets.
Harder’s lead partner, Charles Harder, is perhaps best known for attacking and destroying the website Gawker, but it continues with letters sent to newsrooms that allege defamation, including the recently announced lawsuit against the New York Times over an opinion piece about the Russia scandal.
A CNN report Friday said that Harder’s work for the Trump campaign mirrors the President’s affinity for loudly and publicly slamming news outlets. And it suggests more active efforts to take on the media will be part of the Trump campaign’s reelection playbook.
Trump stood by his latest lawsuit Wednesday, CNN reported.
“They did a bad thing,” Trump said of the NY Times lawsuit. And he indicated that Harder may come some more.
“And there will be more coming.”
Most often, campaigns hire trial lawyers to defend them if the candidates get sued before an election, or in the case of recounts, but the use of Harder indicates Trump is taking a more offensive approach, which suits the aggressive attorney.
.”Is it permissible to pay a firm like Harder to file lawsuits against The New York Times like they did on behalf of the campaign? It’s permissible under the rules — but it is unusual,” said Matthew Sanderson, a Washington political law expert who has advised presidential campaigns for John McCain, Rick Perry and Rand Paul.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen that before.”The growth in Harder’s campaign work is clear in Federal Election Commission disclosures. The Trump campaign started paying Harder LLP for legal consulting in 2018, according to FEC records. The campaign paid him roughly $218,000 that year.
But in 2019 and 2020, the campaign’s payments to Harder grew exponentially with the firm taking in nearly $1.7 million from the Trump campaign in 2019 and another $330,000 in January 2020.
The use of litigation as an election strategy may be unusual, but so too is much about Donald Trump’s presidency.