Fire and Fury: What We Can Learn From Donald Trump’s New Lawyer

David Brechter

Remember Charles Harder? He was the lawyer who closed gossip blog Gawker on behalf of Trump-supporter and multi-billionaire Peter Thiel, and his client ‘Hulk Hogan’. You can read our earlier story about Mr Harder here.

Now he’s reappeared as President Trump’s new lawyer in the attempts to shutter the ‘Fire & Fury’ book that’s unleashing hell on the Trump White House.

But what can we learn about Mr Harder and his hard-boiled approach to the law?

Forbes reported that Harder, little known in DC power circles having made his reputation representing a cluster of Hollywood celebrities, emerged as the Trump defender seeking to halt the publication of the Michael Wolf book “Fire and Fury”.

Last Thursday, Harder made an attempt to halt the publication of the book, sending a letter to publisher Henry Holt and Co. demanding that the publisher immediately “cease and desist” publication of the book, as well as requesting that they issue a “full and complete retraction and apology” to Donald Trump. A similar cease and desist letter had been sent to Steve Bannon on behalf of Trump.

The publishers responded by publishing the book earlier than the scheduled date.

Harder’s client list has grown in stature – if that’s the word – with his work for former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, along with Harvey Weinstein and Melania Trump among others.

As his client list has grown he has expanded his firm to open a New York office, given the cluster of East Coast clients he’s gathered, and has also been regularly profiles in publications like Newsweek, GQ, Financial Times and others.

In other words he’s become the go-to lawyer for clients seeking protection from media attack or attention.

But Harder’s experience is more limited than many might expect when it comes to heavy duty litigation in the media arena according to Forbes –

But while Harder’s relationship with Peter Thiel, who later said he spent “about $10 million” of his money on the case, captured headlines and renewed a debate over so-called “third party litigation” financing, it was his counterparts who did most of the heavy legal lifting. Attorneys Shane Vogt and Kenneth Turkel, of the Florida firm Bajo Cuva Cohen & Turkel, directed much of the case, filing motions, taking key depositions — a partner at Harder’s own firm, Doug Mirell, took a particularly damaging deposition of Daulerio — and delivered oral arguments to the jury that ultimately ruled in favor of Hogan. Harder, meanwhile, spent time shuttling between the courthouse and his office in California, working with Hogan’s longtime personal attorney, David Houston, to craft media responses.

However, having acting for Trump daughter Melania in sueing the Daily Mail among others over accusations made that Melania had worked as a paid escort, Donald Trump has returned the favor by retaining the attorney to fight fire with fire.

Dealing with the media onslaught is one thing, but one of the key tacks taken by Harder in his litigation is to first try out the court of public opinion, as his favored cease and desist letters tend to find themselves leaked to the media first.

As Forbes observe –

Among the letters that generated significant attention was one Harder sent to People magazine on behalf of Melania Trump, which the First Lady promptly tweeted a screenshot of as she accused the magazine of fabricating an interaction she had with a reporter.

There’s nothing new in celebrity lawyers leaking potential litigation or related information to the press – directly or otherwise – and also appears to enjoy the fame of representing such clients, even if he sounds off at the press for misreporting – just like his new ‘fake news’ client President Donald Trump.

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