The week that has gone by since I posted my “Twenty Reasons” essay ― headlined in The Huffington Post as “Donald Trump Hired Me As an Attorney. Please Don’t Support Him For President” ― has been a bit of a wild ride.
I have to admit: I was somewhat shocked by the power of a story gone viral, and of HuffPost’s ability to make this happen. I was traveling most of last week and had to work hard just to keep up with my own emails on the article — in the hundreds. I confess I only waded in just a little to the thousands of comments on HuffPost and other places that picked up the article and posted it.
As I write this, 39,000 shares, on HuffPost alone, 122,000 likes, and many, many more of both at all the other sites that picked it up. When the media invitations started to come in (a bit of a surprise, too), I gave it some thought, then politely turned them down. I believe the story should be all about the substance of the article and I really did not want it to be in any way about me.
The emails I received were overwhelmingly positive. The few negative comments were not about the substance, but pointing toward the issue of a lawyer talking about his client. To these I mostly did not respond, but to the few that I did, I told them that there are a whole host of reasons why there was no ethical breach.
The conversations with Donald Trump that I referenced were not about legal matters and no legal advice was sought or given; there were third parties present for the conversations; and, technically, I represented not Donald nor his Trump Organization but a New York department store chain, of which for a while he had a substantial stock interest and so some development control.
This said, I get it that I talked about sensitive stuff, said to me with at least some expectation of privacy. Thus, even if there was no technical breach of ethics, I was doing something that would make many lawyers feel uncomfortable, including me. To this I can only reply that I can conceive of no other situation in which I would be inclined to talk about someone I knew, client or not, as I did in the article, even with respect to matters that happened thirty years ago, were it not for the grave consequences should this man be elected President.
I say this as an explanation, not an excuse. Although I truly believe I committed no ethical breach, if I am honest, even if I felt that I would have to cross this line to publish this article, I would have still spoken out. It is just that important. Whatever consequence to me would be a fair price to pay if I helped even a few people understand the real truth of the decision that confronts them.
The vast number of emails I received from people (literally from all walks of life, including from other attorneys) were very positive, mostly very grateful for my words. I was surprised that I garnered a fair amount of praise for my “courage” and “bravery.” This strikes me as a strange and sad commentary on the fear that a bully is able to engender. I received many, many heartfelt personal responses and thank you’s that were very special and inspirational. It has been a wild ride, indeed.