Sometimes when you’re working late defending the president of the United States in a federal investigation into whether he colluded with the Kremlin, you need to take a break to threaten a total stranger who wrote you a snotty but polite email.
With any other public servant, this would be cause for immediate firing. With Trump, it probably puts Kasowitz next in line to replace Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.
The man, a retired public relations professional in the western United States who asked not to be identified, read ProPublica’s story this week on Kasowitz and sent the lawyer an email with the subject line: “Resign Now.’’
Kasowitz replied with series of angry messages sent between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern time. One read: “I’m on you now. You are f*cking with me now Let’s see who you are Watch your back, bitch.”
In another email, Kasowitz wrote: “Call me. Don’t be afraid, you piece of sh*t. Stand up. If you don’t call, you’re just afraid.” And later: “I already know where you live, I’m on you. You might as well call me. You will see me. I promise. Bro.”
It’s the “bro” that ties it all together. Click the link and read the full exchange to see for yourself just how anodyne the original email was. Kasowitz replied four times, twice with implicit or explicit threats — scaring the original emailer so much that he forwarded the emails to the FBI before forwarding them to Pro Publica.
Maybe this is all a hoax to make Kasowitz look bad. Or maybe not:
The Pro Publica story that inspired the stranger to email Kasowitz was this one from Tuesday, alleging that not only did he have no security clearance despite being the president’s lead attorney on Russiagate but wouldn’t seek one. Why not? If you believe the Kasowitz friends and employees who spoke to PP, it’s because he did a stint in rehab a few years ago for drinking and had been drinking again “in recent months,” providing potential blackmail material to malefactors. Kasowitz denies much of that (but not all), calling it defamatory. I wonder why Pro Publica was so interested in highlighting this story of him flying off the handle at a total stranger seemingly inexplicably late at night.
The whole episode is hugely embarrassing but, Trump being Trump, he’ll probably appreciate Kasowitz’s willingness to “fight” or whatever. Besides, it’s not like there’s a line of lawyers waiting outside his door to represent him. Part of the reason he ended up with Kasowitz in the first place is because eminent Washington attorneys didn’t want to take on a client whom they suspected would frequently ignore their advice and damage his own cause. Which, it turns out, was a perfectly reasonable suspicion. The question now for Kasowitz: Is he going to face discipline in New York for his emails to the stranger? There’s nothing in New York’s Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers that specifically addresses being a giant A-hole to random people; there’s a duty to be courteous before a tribunal, but no free-floating duty to behave politely outside court. (How would New York litigators function if there were?) The closest thing to a gotcha is the catch-all misconduct provision of Rule 8.4(h), “A lawyer or law firm shall not … engage in any … conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer.” Does this episode speak to Kasowitz’s basic fitness to practice? If he’s good enough for the president, he should be good enough for the New York bar, right?