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Let's Not Talk About the Elections

Vivia Chen

October 29, 2020

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As we careen toward the election, I think it’s fair to say a lot of us are nervous wrecks. My plan is to vote early (which I plan to do before the weekend) and drink copious amounts of wine (which I’m already doing). If I could, I’d also find a comfy cave and hibernate until Jan. 20. (I am making the assumption that there will be a peaceful transfer of power by then. Major assumption.)

The issue is how to keep our wits about us at least until election day?

Permit me to make a suggestion: Stop reading all those articles about how Amy Coney Barrett—now Justice Barrett—could cast the critical vote in election controversies that will stop vote counting and award President Donald J. Trump another four years as POTUS.

Another piece of advice: Watch the new Borat movie. I rarely laugh out loud, but I found myself doing so uncontrollably throughout the movie. And, yes, the scenes with Rudy Giuliani are rich with wonder. (Query: Are we sure this is the same guy who was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and not a body double imported by the Russians?)

As I said, I’m just trying to make it through to next Tuesday, so let me distract you with news that we can chuckle about.

Okay, guess I have to mention Jeffrey Toobin’s Zoom fiasco. As every schoolchild knows by now, Toobin was caught on camera pleasuring himself during a break on a Zoom call with his New Yorker colleagues. I know he’s getting a lot of grief for his behavior, but let’s give him some credit. I mean, how many 60-year-olds do you know who have the unbridled libido of a 16-year old? Instead of dumping on Toobin, shouldn’t AARP be signing him on as the poster boy for senior vigor?

But judging by the unsympathetic commentary he’s getting, I don’t think many people like him. I’m not going to add to the pile, though, because, well, it’s frankly low hanging fruit (no anatomical visuals, please).

Much more fun to talk about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner and their threat to sue the Lincoln Project for the giant ads it erected in Times Square. In a nutshell, the anti-Trump Republican group (one of its leaders is George Conway) put an image of a beaming Ivanka gesturing with her hands at statistics about COVID-19 deaths. Next to that was another billboard featuring a smiling Jared Kushner and his quote from Vanity Fair: “[New Yorkers] are going to SUFFER and that’s their problem.”

Of course, the princelings were offended. So lawsuit!

Ivanka Trump and Kushner’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz shot a warning to the Lincoln Project, calling the ads “false, malicious and defamatory,” amounting to “an outrageous and shameful libel.” Kasowitz added. “If these billboard ads are not immediately removed, we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages.”

Ooh, damages that will be “enormous.” So Trumpian. And scary.

Lincoln Project lawyer Matthew Sanderson, a partner at Caplin & Drysdale, basically told Kasowitz to make his day. He wrote Kasowitz an expansive three-page letter. Upfront, he wrote: “Please peddle your scare tactics elsewhere,” adding, “Your clients are no longer mere Upper East Side socialites, able to sue at the slightest offense to their personal sensitivities. Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump are public officials.” He ended the letter: “This isn’t over. Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump will hear more from the Lincoln Project soon.”

Not exactly a conciliatory response aimed at tension diffusion. It’s more like, so glad you brought up lawsuit!

 Which raises this question: Why did Ivanka Trump and Kushner bother to make a legal threat in the first place?

It’s rather silly on many fronts. It’s unlikely to be successful (there is a First Amendment, you know). What’s more, it puts a national spotlight on Ivanka Trump and Kushner’s lame actions during the pandemic. Like many New Yorkers, I didn’t even know the billboards existed until Ivanka Trump and Kushner raised a stink. Now, I can’t wait to go see them and do a selfie. Maybe I’ll put it on my Christmas cards.

As the New York Times points out, the billboards underscored what New Yorkers already know: There’s no love lost between New York and the Trump family. “The Trump family has a history of suing critics, and Mr. Kasowitz’s letter was not surprising,” reports the Times. “But the billboards were also a reminder of another point: Should Mr. Trump lose the election, and should his daughter and son-in-law return to New York City, there is no guarantee they will receive a warm reception.”

No guarantee, indeed. As the Times points out, Ivanka Trump and Kushner’s best bet for a warm reception is Staten Island—which, in New York terms, is like being banished to Siberia, but without the virgin open vistas.

In any event, let’s hope this lawsuit proceeds. Because it looks like a fun one.

vchen@alm.com

Twitter: @lawcareerist

 
 
 

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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