Jamie Gorelick of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr this weekend became the latest lawyer to fall victim to internet provocateurs who are angry with those working for President Donald Trump and his family members.
Starting the evening of Sept. 30, a person using the email Kushner.firstname.lastname@example.org sent Gorelick a one-sentence email: “Our mutual friend Mr. McGahn is really stirring things up.”
“What is he doing?” Gorelick replied, referring to current White House counsel Donald McGahn II.
After the phony Kushner expressed more frustration with McGahn, Gorelick wrote back: “I can speak with him as I need to call him anyway.” Gorelick then told the emailer twice that the rest of their communication would have to wait until Monday. Gorelick stopped responding after 1:30 a.m. Sunday, after she got five emails from the address.
Gorelick viewed the messages and sent her responses on an iPad, where the sender’s full email address was obscured and only “Jared Kushner” could be seen. A person at the firm who is familiar with the situation said Gorelick realized the messages came from an impostor, and that’s why she stopped communicating.
Abbe Lowell of Norton Rose Fulbright, who defends Kushner in matters related to the Russia investigation, fell victim to a similar prank last week, after the same fake emailer messaged Lowell claiming to be concerned about pornographic images. Lowell and Gorelick previously worked together on Kushner’s defense in the Russia investigation, though now Gorelick handles only his ethics and security clearance legal needs.
The National Law Journal obtained the emails between the fake Kushner and Gorelick from the sender himself, James Linton, a resident of Manchester, UK, who uses the internet moniker Sinon, and Jeff Jetton, a co-owner of the popular D.C. ramen restaurant Toki Underground.
Jetton said he does not impersonate others online but does collaborate with Linton on ideas for pranks, including the one that caught Gorelick.
“No hacking. No van parked outside with listening equipment. No fake mustache. Just me with an iPhone, sat on my sofa drinking a cup of tea,” Linton said Tuesday through a different email address than the fake Kushner account. “I suspect the only reason the replies dried up was due to me pushing the bounds of reality and believability a little too far.”
Previously, Jetton—writing as himself—sent emails to White House special counsel Ty Cobb that berated him for working for Trump. Cobb told him that “more adults in the room will be better” and said he gave up a $4 million salary at Hogan Lovells to work for the president, according to a story about the exchange in Mother Jones magazine.
This is the second time in a week that Wilmer has had trouble with lawyers’ emails. The firm last week saw publication of a Wall Street Journal story that revealed federal and internal investigations at its client PepsiCo. In that case, a Wilmer lawyer mistakenly sent documents to a Journal reporter about the firing of PepsiCo’s former general counsel and the investigations. Wilmer apologized to PepsiCo and said it would take steps to prevent technological missteps in the future.
Gorelick declined to comment Tuesday.
Lowell did not respond to requests for comment. He is currently litigating the corruption trial of Democratic Sen. Bob Mendendez in New Jersey. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified in that trial on Tuesday.