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Wake Up Call: MSNBC Backpedals Trump Finance Claims After Lawyer Threats

Aug. 29, 2019, 11:48 AM
  • MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell made an on-air and Twitter retraction and apology yesterday after claiming he had evidence that Russian oligarchs had co-signed for Deutsche Bank loans to President Donald Trump. The retraction reportedly came after libel lawyer Charles Harder sent a letter to in-house attorneys at NBCUniversal demanding immediate retraction, or else. Harder is known among other things for financially obliterating Gawker Media in court. The sequence set off the latest Twitter storm over Trump’s unreleased tax returns. (Politico)

  • A taxpayer advised by Trump-connected firm Consovoy McCarthy and others failed to get a federal appeals court to review its lawsuit against the IRS, in a case raising major questions about when tax rules can be challenged in court. (BLAW) William S. Consovoy, co-founder of Consovoy McCarthy, is leading Trump’s efforts to keep Congress from getting its hands on financial information about Trump and his family members, in particular Trump’s tax returns. (Bloomberg Tax) (WaPo)

  • The gender pay gap for U.S.-based general counsel is getting bigger, up sharply to 18.6% in favor of male GCs, a new report says. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Jones Day has hired former Wiley Rein partner Brett Shumate, who more recently was a top Department of Justice lawyer known for defending the Trump administration in some of its most controversial cases. (BLAW via BLB) Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch, a former antitrust partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, has recently left the department. Former Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson partner Barry Nigro, currently a deputy assistant AG, is set to take over Finch’s role. (BLAW via BLB)

  • Hudson’s Bay Co., advised by Willkie Farr & Gallagher, is selling the operations of its Lord & Taylor department store chain to clothing rental subscription company Le Tote for $100 million, the companies announced. Le Tote is advised by Kirkland & Ellis. (BN via BLAW) (

  • Kirkland & Ellis has taken in over $2.6 million in fees so far this year as restructuring counsel for Barneys New York, according to new filings in the luxury retailer’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (BLAW via BLB)

  • The push to allow non-lawyers to share fees in some legal operations took another step forward yesterday, as the Utah Supreme Court approved recommendations in a task-force report on legal reform. (BLAW via BLB)

  • The Trump Organization has to face discovery in a lawsuit over claims topping $1 million in legal fees by Trump’s now-jailed former attorney, Michael Cohen, a New York judge ruled. (New York Law Journal)

Lawyers, Law Firms, Deals

  • “Unlimited” vacation time is not as great a deal as it sounds, associates from about a dozen Big Law firms said in a recent survey. (American Lawyer)

  • Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan told associates after their annual firm “hike” event this year in Switzerland that they would have to take vacation time for the event. The firm defended the move by noting that it covered travel costs for the event. (Above The Law)

  • Baker Botts intellectual property partner Sarah Guske is taking over as head of the firm’s San Francisco office IP section starting Sept. 1, according to a memo. Guske, who has 15 years’ experience litigating software and electronics patent cases, joined from Cooley three years ago with current San Francisco IP section chief Wayne Stacy. He’s staying at the firm as first chair patent trial lawyer, strategist, mentor, and client developer. (

  • Katten Muchin Rosenman is the latest Big Law firm to rebrand with a shorter name, just “Katten.” The Chicago-based firm also launched its revamped website, with updated attorney bios and practice descriptions. (American Lawyer)

  • Houston lawyer Ronald “Ronny” Krist faces misdemeanor assault charges for allegedly slapping a plaintiff’s attorney before a deposition. (Texas Lawyer)

  • The FBI accused a pain clinic doctor of plotting to kill an attorney who litigated a case that cost him $60,000. The feds told the lawyer that the doctor planned to have him secretly injected with fentanyl. (WaPo)

  • A new Netflix comedy starring Meryl Streep, Sharon Stone, and others looks at the Panama Papers tax fraud scandal that started with law firm Mossack Fonseca. (Hollywood Reporter)

Laterals, Moves, Promotions

  • Mayer Brown’s Paris office lost M&A and capital markets partner Jean Francois Louit and attorney Caroline Lan to French firm Gide Loyrette Nouel, according to a report. (The Lawyer)

  • Blank Rome added consumer financial services associate Avinoam D. Erdfarb in New York, getting him from Pepper Hamilton. Consumer finance partner Scott D. Samlin joined the office from the same firm earlier this month. (

Legal Actions, Bankruptcies, Decisions

  • Career Education Corp., an educational services company advised by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, agreed to pay $30 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it tricked consumers into giving out their contact information, and made more than 1 million calls to people on the Do Not Call registry. (BLAW)


  • Kansas City, Missouri-based Shook, Hardy & Bacon is using Khan Academy-inspired videos via social media for a campaign to promote the firm’s practice area expertise. (American Lawyer)

  • A new free, online tool helps potential law students decide whether getting a legal education is the right move for them, and then it helps with choosing a school, applying, and understanding the financing involved. (

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Molly Ward at