Trump Campaign Lawyer Quits Lawsuit After Harassment Complaint

Nov. 17, 2020, 12:20 AM

A lawyer for President Donald Trump’s campaign is dropping out of a Pennsylvania lawsuit challenging the election results a day after complaining about being harassed for her work, including by an attorney from a firm representing the state of Pennsylvania.

Linda Kerns, who leads her own law firm in Philadelphia, said in a court filing Monday that she and two other lawyers reached agreement with the campaign that it’d be best if they withdrew from the case. Marc A. Scaringi will represent the Trump campaign, she said. Kerns didn’t provide a reason for the withdrawal request and there’s no indication her harassment complaint had anything to do with it.

But late Sunday she said in a court filing that an attorney with Kirkland & Ellis in Washington left her a one-minute voice mail that “falls afoul of standards of professional conduct.”

The Trump campaign lawsuit seeks to block Pennsylvania from certifying the election result unless thousands of ballots are tossed out. Another firm on the case, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP, gave notice last week that it’s withdrawing from the matter. A Trump spokesman blamed that decision on harassment by “leftist mobs,” after the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group led by conservatives, targeted lawyers working for the campaign.

Kerns, who didn’t identify the lawyer who allegedly harassed her in the filing, also said that she “has been subjected to continuous harassment in the form of abusive e-mails, phone calls, physical and economic threats and even accusations of treason -- all for representing the President of the United States’ campaign in this litigation.”

The case is one of several that the Trump campaign and the GOP have filed seeking to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory with unsubstantiated allegations of rampant voter fraud. A hearing on Pennsylvania’s motion to dismiss the suit is set for Tuesday.

Read More: Pennsylvania Blasts Trump’s ‘Slapdash’ Lawsuit to Toss Votes

Kirkland & Ellis’s lawyer on the matter apologized to Kerns and told her that the attorney who left the voice mail doesn’t work on the Pennsylvania case. In her filing, Kerns said that’s “not good enough.” She asked the judge overseeing the case to issue an unspecified sanction against the firm.

In a response filed with the court on Monday, Kirkland & Ellis lawyer Daniel T. Donovan said an associate was “acting unilaterally, in his personal capacity,” when he made the call. During the call, the associate provided Kerns with his personal email address while a baby was “babbling in the background.”

“We disagree with the characterization of the voice mail in the motion,” Donovan said in the filing. “The firm expects that every lawyer will conduct themselves with the highest standards of professional conduct, including being respectful of and courteous to other members of the bar.”

Kerns responded to that filing with another letter to the court, saying the associate who “foolishly chose to vent his ideological hatred” hadn’t personally apologized. She also rejected the law firm’s suggestion that the associate didn’t represent Pennsylvania.

“Every lawyer at a firm is counsel to every client of that firm,” Kerns said.

(Updates to note lawyer wasn’t identified, response by Kerns)

To contact the reporter on this story:
Erik Larson in New York at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net

Tina Davis, Joe Schneider

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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