On bad lawyering in presidential scandals past and present

The first thing that jumps out about Kasowitz’s statements is how uncareful they are. The statements contain notable spelling, grammatical, and formatting errors. None of these is an egregious sin, but they are also not the work product of a high-class firm representing the President of the United States in a high-stakes legal matter. And they turn out to be telling.

Because literacy aside, the substance of both statements is, well, Ginsburgian in its incompetence. This is significant because the Clinton lawyers and public messaging professionals ultimately defeated the Starr investigation by winning a sustained messaging war—something Ginsburg helped give them time to do. Kasowitz, if his initial performance is any guide, does not seem up to the battle.

The first statement boldly contradicts Comey’s sworn testimony; it declares that Trump “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that that Mr. Comey ‘let Flynn go.’” It also insists that, “The President also never told Mr. Comey, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty’ in form or substance.” Fair enough. This is going to be a he-said-he-said situation.

But the statement also takes issue with Comey’s description of his decision to disclose to the New York Times, through a friend, the contents of an unclassified memo documenting Trump’s suggestion that he drop the Flynn investigation. And it does so in a fashion that Kasowitz simply cannot support.