Marc Kasowitz—Donald Trump’s long-time lawyer who’s representing the president in the ongoing investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian agents to interfere with the 2016 election—is looking more and more like he’s not up to the job. A Wall Street “tough guy” with little or no experience in politics or national security, Kasowitz may turn out to be more of an albatross than a shield for Trump.
Not only has he reportedly lost favor with the White House and engaged in a profane, semi-public tantrum against a stranger, but, according to an investigation by The Nation, Kasowitz is also entangled in what could be a conflict of interest stemming from his work on behalf of Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank. State-owned, Sberbank is led by executives closely tied to President Vladimir Putin, and the bank was involved in an aborted 2013 deal to construct a Trump-branded hotel in Moscow. Two of the individuals involved in the Sberbank case, according to a complaint filed last November on behalf of a Russian plaintiff, are Yuri Y. Chaika, the Russian state prosecutor, and his son, Artem Chaika, both of whom are named as participants in a conspiracy to raid and bankrupt a Russian company and jail its owner.
Last week, of course, Yuri Chaika surfaced in the New York Times story about a previously secret meeting held on June 9, 2016, involving Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and a group of well-connected Russians at Trump Tower. Chaika, the longtime Russian prosecutor general, who was recently profiled in the Times as a “master of kompromat,” or compromising, blackmail-worthy information, is believed to be the source of dirt on Hillary Clinton that was promised to the Trump campaign. An e-mail chain released by Trump Jr. quoted a go-between saying that Russia’s “Crown prosecutor” (i.e., Chaika) was the source of “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”
If you’re Donald Trump, and you’re under suspicion of having colluded with the Russian government in its effort to meddle in the presidential election, you’d think that the last thing you’d do would be to name a lawyer who is himself deeply entangled in the underbelly of Russia’s crony-riddled, oligarch-dominated system of corporate corruption as your defense team’s chief. But that’s exactly what happened.