Trump lawyers make headlines for wrong reasons in email and prisoner affair dramas

King & Spalding partner Bobby Burchfield, named earlier this year to serve as the Trump Organisation’s top ethics counsel, and former Hogan Lovells partner Ty Cobb, who joined the White House this summer as a member of the president’s legal defence team in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, both saw their names emerge in two eyebrow-raising reports this week.

On Thursday (7 September), Virginia’s Fauquier Times reported that Burchfield’s wife had been arrested after having sex with an inmate at a local jail. Teresa Jo Burchfield, 53, was taken into custody by jailhouse guards after they reportedly found her in the back seat of a car in a parking lot adjacent to the Fauquier County Adult Detention Centre.

A complaint filed against Teresa Jo Burchfield states that a search of the 23-year-old inmate found with her indicated that he had been given cigarettes, clothes and vitamin supplements, the newspaper said.

Bobby Burchfield, who left McDermott Will & Emery’s office in Washington DC two years ago in a high-profile lateral move to King & Spalding, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his wife’s arrest. In June, The American Lawyer profiled Burchfield for his efforts as independent ethics counsel to the Trump Organisation, a role he assumed earlier this year.

King & Spalding is one of several Am Law 100 firms that have capitalised on their ties to the Trump administration, which has recruited partners from the firm, including current FBI director Christopher Wray and former international trade partner Gilbert Kaplan.

Meanwhile, Cobb, the former Hogan Lovells partner who this summer told The National Law Journal that he had “rocks in my head and steel balls” in explaining his decision to join the Trump White House, found himself caught up in an imbroglio over a late-night email exchange he recently had with a known online provocateur.

Emails leaked to the Mother Jones website appeared to show that Cobb had exchanged a series of missives with Jeff Jetton, owner of a ramen noodle shop in Washington DC, over Cobb’s work for the Trump administration.

The exchange, which at times deteriorated into puerile name-calling by both parties, saw Cobb reportedly claim to be one of the few “adults in the room” at the Trump White House. Cobb also told Jetton that he walked away from $4m a year in compensation in order to enter public service, a sacrifice that also required him to “sell my retirement account for major capital losses and lost a s—load to try and protect the third pillar of democracy”.

Cobb told Mother Jones that he believed his conversation with Jetton would be kept private, and claimed that he only engaged with him in order to “turn someone who appeared angry into a friend”. Cobb also said that he was proud to work for Trump and that “there are many pros and talented people in the White House”.

An email faux pas is becoming a regular occurrence for Trump’s lawyers. In August, retired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld partner John Dowd – another member of Trump’s legal defence team – forwarded on a controversial email chain equating President George Washington with former Confederate leader Robert E Lee.

And earlier this summer, Kasowitz Benson Torres founding partner Marc Kasowitz publicly apologised for a profanity-laced email he exchanged with a Trump critic. After that episode, Kasowitz’s role within the Trump legal team was reduced.