Law Firm Defending Trump Seeks to Withdraw From a Long-Running Case

Law Firm Defending Trump Seeks to Withdraw From a Long-Running Case

A law firm that has long defended Donald J. Trump’s campaign and businesses from employment lawsuits has abruptly asked to withdraw from a yearslong case over what it calls an “irreparable breakdown in the attorney-client relationship.”

The firm — LaRocca, Hornik, Greenberg, Rosen, Kittridge, Carlin and McPartland — has represented Mr. Trump’s political operation in numerous suits dating to his first presidential run, helping secure several settlements and dismissals and billing nearly $3 million in the process.

But late on Friday, it asked a federal magistrate judge to allow it to withdraw from a suit filed by a former campaign surrogate, A.J. Delgado, who says she was sidelined by the campaign in 2016 after revealing she was pregnant. The timing of the motion was notable, just two days after the same federal court had ordered the campaign to turn over in discovery all complaints of sexual harassment and gender or pregnancy discrimination from the 2016 and 2020 campaigns — materials that the defendants have long resisted handing over.

A.J. Delgado in 2016.Credit…via YouTube

In the request, filed in federal court in Manhattan, the lead lawyer, Jared Blumetti, did not provide any details about the dispute, asking permission to “explain” the matter privately with the judge. Mr. Blumetti did not respond to a request for comment.

The apparent rupture with a long-trusted firm comes at a busy time, legally speaking, for the former president.

He is in the third week of a criminal trial in a 2016 campaign sex scandal cover-up case involving the porn star Stormy Daniels, and is facing additional criminal charges in Georgia as well as in two separate sets of federal indictments. Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether Mr. Trump is absolutely immune from criminal charges for actions he took while in the White House. And he is appealing judgments totaling more than $500 million in two civil verdicts from last year.

It was not immediately clear whether LaRocca Hornik, which has its offices inside 40 Wall Street, a building in downtown Manhattan that is owned by Mr. Trump, intends to cut all ties with him. But such a break would hardly be new. In January, one of Mr. Trump’s defense lawyers, Joe Tacopina, said he would no longer represent him. Last year, at least four of his other lawyers, representing him in a variety of civil and criminal cases, stepped aside.

Ms. Delgado, who is representing herself in the matter, objected to the withdrawal in a filing Monday, arguing it should not be allowed until the discovery process has been completed and calling the request a “scheme to avoid compliance.”

Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker said that LaRocca Hornik would have to continue to represent the campaign for the time being and that she would schedule a conference with the law firm and the campaign to discuss the matter.

The firm has represented Mr. Trump’s business interests for at least a decade, defending Trump Model Management in a wage case filed in 2014, for example. It also represented the campaign in both of Mr. Trump’s previous runs for the White House and was paid $1.8 million between September 2016 and December 2020, Federal Election Commission records show. Since then, the former president’s super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., has paid LaRocca Hornik an additional $990,000, including a payment of $15,103.90 as recently as March 25.

In addition to the case filed by Ms. Delgado, the firm is still representing the campaign in a sexual discrimination and abuse lawsuit filed by Jessica Denson, a former phone bank administrator and Hispanic outreach coordinator for the 2016 campaign. The most recent filing in that suit, in a New York state court, was made on April 16 and makes no mention of a desire to end the legal relationship.

Last year, the firm helped the Trump campaign negotiate a $450,000 settlement in a separate lawsuit filed by Ms. Denson that challenged the validity of nondisclosure agreements that campaign workers were obliged to sign during the 2016 race.

And in 2022, it helped negotiate a settlement in a suit brought by protesters who claimed that Mr. Trump’s bodyguard Keith Schiller had in 2015 ripped up a sign that read “Trump: Make America Racist Again” and then hit one of them in the head.

Ms. Delgado brought her suit against the campaign, as well as against the former advisers Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer, in 2019, claiming sex and pregnancy discrimination.

She said that, while working for the campaign, she had a brief sexual relationship with a senior communications adviser and spokesman, Jason Miller, and became pregnant. When she revealed her pregnancy shortly after the 2016 election, her complaint said, she was relieved of most of her duties and “immediately and inexplicably stopped receiving emails and other communications.”

As part of the litigation, she has been seeking all other complaints of gender discrimination involving the campaign.

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