Marc Kasowitz (65) is Donald Trump’s long time personal attorney. On May 24, 2017, Kasowitz was retained to represent Trump personally in connection with investigations into the role of Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.
Ever since Kasowitz was hired his personal and professional life has come into question. For example stories of angry, possibly threatening, emails sent by Kasowitz have recently hit the press. Furthermore, several of his colleagues have anonymously informed the media that Kasowitz has been struggling with alcohol addiction for years. Kasowitz is tasked with an extremely important job, defending the President of the United States. Therefore, it is proper to ask; who exactly is Marc Kasowitz?
Marc Kasowitz graduated from Yale College in 1974. He graduated cum lade with a B.A. in American history. Following his decorated undergrad years he attended the prestigious Cornell Law School where he became the editor of the Cornell Law Review. Ultimately, Kasowitz was admitted to the New York Bar in 1978.
Following law school, Kasowitz joined the Mayer Brown law firm. The Mayer Brown firm is one of the oldest and largest global law firms in the United States. While there Kasowitz advised bank holding companies, commercial banks, investment banks and more. In 1993 Kasowitz, 18 other lawyers, and two clients left the firm in order to form the Kasowitz Benson Torres law firm.
Some of Marc Kasowitz’s high-profile clients include the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Bill O’Reilly and of course Donald Trump. According to a May 23, 2017 article in Forward, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres and Friedman has been a “go-to source” for Donald Trump for decades. He has represented Donald Trump in his divorce proceedings, bankruptcy cases, Trump University lawsuits and during the 2016 presidential campaign regarding sexual misconduct allegations. Kasowitz is said to have a scrappy, hard-charging style in the courtroom that mirrors Trump’s personality.
Naturally, Trump called on Kasowitz to defend him in any potential legal issues regarding investigations into the role of his presidential campaign in Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Both Kasowitz’s expertise and legal knowledge are needed on an almost daily basis. Kasowitz is given the task of responding to the constant onslaught of daily breaking news regarding the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russian government.
With such a high-profile job comes an enormous amount of scrutiny, especially in the political arena. For starters, according to U.S. court records, Kasowitz’s clients include the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close associate of Vladimir Putin and a business partner of Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort. Kasowitz also represents the Russian state-owned bank Sberbank. Of course highly sought after attorneys such as Kasowitz represent thousands of clients all over the world. However, Kasowitz’s involvement with any Russian clients with ties to the Kremlin while representing Donald Trump will no doubt prove concerning.
“If the behavior of a Russian client of the firm or its relationship with Trump becomes an issue in the investigation, a conflict could arise,” said Stephen Gillers of New York University Law School, an expert on legal ethics told the Denver Post.
Criticism of Kasowitz’s professional resume’ is expected when taking such a high-profile job. However, his personal behavior has been questioned as well. ProPublica reported that Kasowitz has a severe alcohol problem. More than two dozen current and former employees of Kasowitz’s firm, as well as his friends and acquaintances, told ProPublica that Trump’s personal attorney has struggled over time with alcohol abuse, including a stint in rehab in the winter of 2014-15.
ProPublica claims that because of his history with alcohol abuse Kasowitz is not seeking, and likely would not be granted, a security clearance to the White House. A security clearance would allow him to access government secrets. It is highly unusual for an attorney serving a client in a case involving classified material not to have a clearance. However, in order to receive a security clearance, a background check is conducted. The background check takes into consideration one’s personal decision-making. Thus, having an alcohol problem would disqualify him. Kasowitz defended himself by stating he does not need a clearance and that he doesn’t have an alcohol problem.
After reading the articles on ProPublica, a currently unidentified individual sent an email to Kasowtiz urging him to “resign now.” Kasowitz replied with a series of profanity-laced emails, some of which took a threatening tone, writing, “I’m on you now. You are f***g with me now Let’s see who you are Watch your back, b***h,” as well as “Call me. Don’t be afraid, you piece of s***h. 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.”
The emailer forwarded the emails to the FBI to report the threats, and Kasowitz subsequently issued a statement saying “The person sending that email is entitled to his opinion, and I should not have responded in that inappropriate manner…This is one of those times where one wishes he could reverse the clock, but of course I can’t.” While Kasowitz’s email is unprofessional and rude it most likely does not reach the level of criminal behavior.
To make matters worse for Kasowitz, he may have fallen out of the president’s good graces according to a reportTuesday night in The New York Times. As Donald Trump Jr. faces scrutiny over a meeting he had with a Russian lawyer, the president has reportedly expressed his frustration to his team of personal lawyers, which is headed by Kasowitz, which could lay the groundwork for Kasowitz’s exit, that report said. In fact, recent reports show that Trump has hired attorney Ty Cobb to take over the responses to the Russian probe. For now, Cobb and Kasowitz will work together.
Marc Kasowitz has consistently denied any alcohol problems or any issues within the Trump camp. Nevertheless, it is well documented yet under-reported that lawyers struggle with substance abuse, particularly drinking, and with depression and anxiety more commonly than some other professionals.
There’s no doubt that Kasowitz has experienced enormous victories throughout his prestigious legal career. Furthermore, his reputation as a take-no-prisoners attorney precedes him. Nevertheless, Kasowitz’s alleged addiction, curious legal ties, and even his own admitted behavior put his status as the president’s go-to-guy into question.