A new article out in Politico explores the disastrous decision of Squire Patton Boggs to bring in Michael Cohen in a blatant scheme to sell access to the President. Edward Newberry, one of the top lobbyists for Squire Patton Boggs, is described as one of the critical players in taking on a lawyer who was already viewed as one of the sleaziest and unethical lawyers in the country. Indeed, the article describes how some members of the struggling firm noted that he could well end up as the next Jack Abramoff, who went to jail for a long pattern of grotesque corruption. What was most interesting however about Theordoric Meyer’s piece however was the defense by the firm spokesperson, Angelo Kakolyris, in the article on the five clients that Cohen brought the firm under his bloated deal: “they are almost all legal clients.” “Almost all”? In reality, Kakolyris was making a finer point, I assume, that the small number of clients were legal not lobbying matters. However, it is an unfortunate choice of words for dealings with a man who seems to be spinning off criminal allegations the way hurricanes spin off tornados.
On its face, the contract with Squire Patton Boggs was an utter disgrace for the firm. Cohen is known to have the legal skills of a wombat and the ethics of a parasitic tick. Squire Patton Boggs however gave him a deal of a $500,000 retainer, plus commissions on any new clients. It was the same motivation that led AT&T and other companies to give Cohen reportedly millions for access to Trump. It was simple and utter greed. The only good news that is Squire Patton Boggs got virtually nothing for the seedy deal except bad press and speculation on the ability of the firm to survive.
The struggling firm has done better under Trump, according to the article. That type of success could bring added scrutiny given the seedy deal with Cohen.
However, it was the statement attributed to Kakolyris that was notable, though easily misunderstood. For the uninitiated, it could be viewed as a prototypical Beltway notion “mostly legal” be viewed as a success. Moreover, it also means that one or more of the clients were lobbying clients, so the point is a precious one at best.
The point is likely that the clients were not lobbying matters and thus not the result of access from Cohen. That still does not help the firm since Cohen reportedly had few clients (maybe two at the time of New York evidentiary hearing on his search by the FBI). He was not therefore a “rainmaker” of any kind. He was a conduit to Trump and the firm ignored his reputation to try to secure that access.