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Trump’s Legal Rose Ceremony

Boris Epshteyn
Boris Epshteyn, Donald Trump’s legal quarterback. Photo: Kevin Hagen/Getty Images
Tara Palmeri
September 30, 2022

Playbook, my old haunt, reported last week an interesting sighting of Boris Epshteyn, Donald Trump’s legal quarterback, meeting with Hogan Lovells partner Aaron Cutler over breakfast at Bourbon Steak on Pennsylvania Avenue. The two are old friends, of course, and Washington is a small town where lawyers routinely do each other favors. However, according to people familiar with the conversation, this breakfast meeting involved Cutler proposing to Epshteyn that his white shoe firm could help the Trump legal team with the fallout stemming from the Mar-a-Lago document headache. In particular, Cutler said that Hogan Lovells could help manage Judge Raymond Dearie, Trumpworld’s handpicked, and instantly regrettable, special master in the case.

Trump’s embattled legal team, after all, seemingly extrapolated that Dearie’s role in the Carter Page FISA case indicated that he was some sort of F.B.I. scold, who might view the former president’s case with sympathy. As it turned out, however, that was a gut-made, diligence-light miscalculation. In fact, Dearie has been downright hostile to Trump’s team in court, telling them, among other things, “you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.” It was a bad bet, one of Trump’s advisors told me.