How a 'juggernaut' corporate law firm founded in 1893 became a MAGA stronghold: report
The corporate law firm Jones Day has been around much longer than former President Donald Trump and the MAGA movement. Originally called Blandin & Rice, Jones Day was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1893 — and along the way, its Fortune 500 clients have ranged from Goldman Sachs to General Motors to McDonald’s. But journalist David Enrich, in a lengthy, in-depth article published by the New York Times on August 25, describes the MAGA/Jones Day alliance and how it came about.
Republican attorney Don McGahn began working for Jones Day in 2014, and he went on to become White House chief counsel in the Trump Administration. In 2016, Jones Day represented Trump’s presidential campaign.
“For much of its history,” Enrich explains, “Jones Day was a juggernaut in the field of corporate litigation…. But over the past two decades, Jones Day has been building a different kind of legal practice: one dedicated not just to helping Republicans win elections, but to helping them achieve their political aims once in office. Chief among those aims was dismantling what Don McGahn — the Jones Day partner who helped run Trump’s campaign and then became his White House counsel — disparagingly referred to as the ‘administrative state.’ To do that, the firm was bringing all the ruthless energy and creativity of corporate law to the political realm.”
Enrich continues, “Jones Day lured dozens of young Supreme Court clerks, mostly from conservative justices, with six-figure signing bonuses and the opportunity to work on favored causes, including legal challenges to gun control and Obamacare…. Representing Trump’s 2016 campaign, Jones Day helped him solidify Republican support by pledging to pick federal judges from a list that was vetted in advance by the law firm and the Federalist Society. When Trump won, a large fleet of Jones Day lawyers sailed into his White House, the Justice Department and other parts of his administration. But the biggest impact was on the judiciary.”
It was in 2014, according to Enrich, that McGahn and “right-wing activist” Dave Bossie started to discuss the possibility of the firm representing Trump politically. That year, Enrich reports, McGahn and Bossie were “batting around ideas about which presidential campaigns the Jones Day lawyers should work for” when Bossie brought up Trump — and McGahn was skeptical at first.
After Bossie mentioned that Trump was “really thinking about running” in the 2016 presidential election, McGahn replied, with skepticism, “He says this every four years. Isn’t he a Democrat from New York?” And Bossie told McGahn, “He’s gotten older; he’s conservative. I think you guys would hit it off.”
Enrich writes, “McGahn, as he recalled in a 2020 speech at Widener University in Pennsylvania, trusted Bossie and soon met Trump in New York. At the end of their talk, Trump signed a book for McGahn’s son: ‘You have a wonderful father,’ he wrote. McGahn was impressed…. It soon became hard to distinguish where Jones Day’s interests ended and the Trump Administration’s began.”
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