Alina Habba, the Trump lawyer the rest of Trump’s legal team hates

0

Facing high-stakes investigations that could cripple his business empire or even mean jail time for him and his close aides, former President Donald Trump and his family’s armada of lawyers face a threat from the inside.

Her name is Alina Habba, and — almost out of nowhere — the relatively unknown New Jersey attorney has gone from representing a ticked-off student at virtual COVID-19 learning to being one of the top lawyers defending the former president two impeached in some of the most high-profile cases in the country.

There’s only one problem for Habba: there’s hardly anyone in Trump’s legal world who can handle her.

Many of Habba’s other senior attorneys in Trumpland, including but not limited to Alan Garten, have all privately said she botched things up or didn’t know what she was doing, according to legal sources. Trumpworld intimately familiar with the subject. Some of them want her fired or sidelined.

Some of Trump’s lawyers think his work is so bad – so self-serving, unnecessarily aggressive and sloppy – that they believe Habba’s mere presence on the team increases the likelihood that Trump and his family will face court losses and to legal peril.

This report is based on interviews with four current and former Trump attorneys, as well as three other sources familiar with the situation at the Trump Organization and within the Trump family’s orbit.

“’What the hell is she doing?’ is probably the most common question we ask about him,” one such attorney, who still works in Trump’s inner sanctum, remarked last week.

Habba’s professional conduct, rulings and courtroom theater have regularly embarrassed his legal colleagues at Trumpworld, to the point that there are several panel chats of Trump lawyers where much of the discussion is devoted to complaining profusely about Habba or making fun of her. (Habba, naturally, is not included in text or email threads.)

Habba did not respond to requests for comment. Instead, the Trump Organization released a broadly similar statement given to Axios when he introduced Habba in January.

“This story is completely false. Alina Habba is not only an incredibly capable lawyer, she has our utmost trust and courage to take on some of the most politically corrupt and unethical institutions in this country,” read a statement attributed. to Eric Trump, one of the presidents. son.

But while she has the utmost faith in Eric Trump, the attorneys attached to Trumpworld aren’t so sure. A lawyer in Trump’s orbit, who admitted never having met Habba, simply said this about his TV legal analysis: “Ouch.”

For those wondering how she stayed on for so long – with so many of her fellow Trump-aligned lawyers agitating for her removal and constantly mocking her – the answer lies with the TV- and image-obsessed 45th president. .

Privately, Trump has repeatedly commented on how much she “loves Trump” and has repeatedly spoken to close associates about her physical appearance – how she’s “a beauty” on TV and in her clubs, two sources say. who have talked to him about Habba in recent months.

Another lawyer pointed out that Habba seems to fill a place that was once reserved for Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell: an attack dog lawyer who serves as Trump’s mouthpiece. But this person also warned that Habba could ultimately share their fate. Both lawyers have faced disciplinary investigations into their willingness to amplify their client’s baseless allegations in a case considered undignified in the legal profession.

Habba has also taken on her role as Trump’s personal attorney and turned what would normally be stilted courtroom arguments into showy antics that, to her deeply dismissive colleagues, look like a constant audition for conservative television.

“If you want to be a lawyer, you stick to the facts of the case. Respect the law. If you want to be on a news show… then that’s probably where you should be,” one of those lawyers told The Daily Beast.

Those plays were on display in New York state court last month, when Habba objected to Trump testifying before New York Attorney General Letitia James, casting the entire investigation as a smear work and delivering sarcastic speeches repeating right-wing political talking points, including a non-sequence argument about Hillary Clinton. Habba was repeatedly reprimanded by a clerk for interrupting the judge and speaking above him.

But it’s not just his work as a lawyer in the courtroom that has drawn the ire of his fellow Trump attorneys. Habba signed a court filing last month, making claims that were immediately contradicted by Trump’s own public statement the next day.

While court documents said Trump “denies knowledge” of how his brand value was used to inflate the value of commercial properties, Trump himself quickly turned around and publicly detailed exactly how he slapped a mark bounty that inflated the value of some commercial properties in 2014. Lawyers in James’ office seized on that and asked the judge to treat Trump’s statement as a confession, forcing Trump to testify for the Office’s ongoing investigation into bank fraud and tax evasion.

The judge then ruled that Trump should appear for questioning under oath, and that decision is heading to a state appeals court.

Sources said the public statement was reviewed by Trump’s lawyers before it was released, making the legal self-declaration even more confusing.

A source in Trump’s orbit who spoke to The Daily Beast wondered if Habba had found herself in the same position as so many Trump lawyers before her: stuck with an unruly client who will say whatever. whatever he wants, to hell with the consequences.

Habba, who turns 38 this month, runs a small law firm just an eight-minute drive from Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. According to three sources, Habba spent an inordinate amount of time at Trump properties, including the Jersey Golf Club. She’s there so often, in fact, that she was the victim of a car break-in last month when thieves drove past a security checkpoint at the club and stole items from her unlocked Range Rover.

Habba first appeared on the Trump Stage last year. As famed New York lawyer Marc Kasowitz has stepped down from representing the former president in several lawsuits, she has come to take on the responsibility.

In September, Habba took over Trump’s defense in the 2017 lawsuit, claiming he forcibly kissed and sexually touched Summer Zervos, a former contestant on season five of The apprentice. When the case went nowhere for five years, Zervos dropped the lawsuit in November, a move Habba touted as his own victory for his client.

However, a person familiar with the case told The Daily Beast that the case was dropped due to Zervos’ own frustration with the protracted affair, and that Habba’s involvement had almost nothing to do with it. the fact that the case had lasted half a decade.

Then in November, Habba got involved in defending Trump against journalist E. Jean Carroll, who claimed he raped her in the 1990s and then sued him for defamation when he said she was lying. . In this case, Habba took a decidedly newer strategy, claiming that Trump was practicing free speech protected by New York laws when he claimed “she’s not my type” from a podium in the White House and released a statement claiming that Carroll was “just trying to sell a new book. This month, the federal judge hearing the case ended that argument and even lambasted Trump and his legal team for be indulged in legal delay tactics.

In December, Trump called on Habba to launch a head-turning attack on Letitia James, suing in federal court for a judge to unilaterally block the state attorney general’s investigation.

According to two people familiar with the matter, several of Trump’s lawyers working alongside Habba strongly opposed the move and internally opposed what they saw as a self-defeating, self-defeating move. These other lawyers largely faulted Habba for backing Trump in the lawsuit and encouraging Trump’s vengeful instincts to do so.

Over the past few months, Habba has made several TV appearances on Fox News and Newsmax, speaking out against a legal system that she says is stacked against conservatives. Lawyers, especially those who represent high-profile figures, often appear on television to discuss their cases. But they rarely attack the character of the judges who oversee their cases or set expectations by saying that any future loss in court is determined entirely by a judge’s personal politics.

And yet, this tactic is quickly becoming Habba’s favorite.

In January, she gave numerous secondary looks to U.S. District Judge Brenda K. Sannes and Magistrate Judge Christian F. Hummel, telling a Newsmax host, “We have our cards against us in New York. We are in the northern district, we have judges who you know are mostly liberal unfortunately…if the judge can put his politics aside, it should be granted and we should win.

Habba also recently threw a few grenades at New York judge Arthur F. Engoron and others when she appeared on Newsmax.

“At the end of the day, that’s the problem with New York State right now. Donald Trump can’t get a fair judge to hear him on the facts with what’s going on,” he said. she told the host last month.

His other legal work is not as politically charged.

In 2020, she sued on behalf of several New Jersey nursing homes for alleged abuse of their patients. And she represented a student who sued the University of Bridgeport, because the Connecticut school was charging full tuition while only holding virtual classes in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the 2010 Widener School of Law graduate, ranked in the bottom 25% of law schools, according to US News and World Report— took on at least one more conservative client.

In July, she represented pharmaceutical entrepreneur Caesar DePaço in federal court when he sued Portuguese journalists for revealing his close ties to that country’s far-right Chega party.

Share.

Comments are closed.