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How much do you need to pay a Jones Day partner to help destroy liberal democracy?

Justice Robert Jackson, Closing Argument at the Nuremberg International Tribunal

It turns out the answer to this question can be calculated with considerable precision. But before we get to that, let us linger on the spectacle of something resembling moral qualms erupting at the famous old firm (dubbed “Jones Day Nights & Weekends” by the wits back in the day), because, you know, Donald Trump:

Six Jones Day lawyers said that given the small number of late-arriving ballots involved in the litigation, and the fact that they already had been segregated, the main goal of the litigation seemed to be to erode public confidence in the election results.

Jones Day did not respond to a request for comment.

In recent days, two Jones Day lawyers said they had faced heckling from friends and others on social media about working at a firm that is supporting Mr. Trump’s efforts.

A lawyer in Jones Day’s Washington office felt that the firm risked hurting itself by taking on work that undermined the rule of law. “To me, it seems extremely shortsighted,” the lawyer said.

Heckling? Oh noes! What’s next, no dinner party invitations, aka The Martyrdom of the Dershowitz? And for what exactly, oh so courageous dissenters, speaking off the record to the paper of record, while continuing to gorge yourself on your cut of the firm’s two billion dollars per year in revenue?

I think we can guess the answer. It’s the same one lawyers always give when they’re walking the seedier end of the track:

A number of Democratic and Republican partners at Jones Day said that while some of their colleagues were grumbling about the Trump relationship, it was the firm’s obligation to continue representing long-term clients, even if individual lawyers disagreed with their politics or tactics. Two partners recalled how Jones Day had stuck with Art Modell, the embattled Cleveland Browns owner, even when there were death threats against the firm’s lawyers and security staff had to escort employees in Cleveland to their cars.

For you non-football fans, Art Modell’s sin involved moving Cleveland’s NFL franchise to Baltimore, which apparently is quite comparable to trying to destroy American liberal democracy and replace it with authoritarian ethno-nationalism aka Fascism For Dummies (redundant, obvi).

Hey what exactly is the going rate for a mess of pottage these days anyway?

Jones Day has been billing the Trump Family and its various Connected Guys about four million dollars per year since 2015. The partners at Jones Day will bill the Family about five million this year. Let’s assume a can opener and proceed on the remarkably optimistic assumption that all these charges will actually be collected eventually. Five million dollars represents about one quarter of one percent of the firm’s annual revenues. Jones Day’s 908 equity partners are clearing around $1.1 million per year, on average, from the firm’s two billion dollars per year in gross revenue.

(Funny not like a clown side note: Lawyers at Jones Day had individually donated more than $90,000 to Biden’s campaign through the third quarter of the year, and $50 (fifty) dollars to Trump’s).

This suggests that the average Jones Day partner — these are people who on average are making more than one million dollars per year — will profit to the tune of $2,753.30 from representing the Trump Crime Family this year.

$53 per week to sell out your country.

But of course it’s not that simple. I don’t doubt for a second that, in the narrow sense, representing Trump is a net revenue negative for the firm. The value of the relatively piddly sums it’s billing, even again assuming they’re collected from the world’s most notorious deadbeat, is almost surely more than cancelled out by the bad publicity the firm is getting for doing this work.

In a broader sense, though, dumping Trump because the work you’re doing for him is wildly immoral is still tough to do, because once a big law firm starts drawing these sorts of distinctions, who knows where it will all end?

In retrospect, I’m sure the firm’s partners now wish they had quietly refused to take Trump on as a client, as no doubt many more prudentially-minded law firms have. But now it’s too late for that, because dumping him would be bad for the more general business of representing almost literally anyone with money, no matter how loathsome the client and the client’s legal goals may be.

Because this is the business they’ve chosen.

Viceroy Fizzlebottom in comments:

I am going absolutely insane at the assurances from our media gatekeepers that “relax, this scheme is farfetched, it won’t work, the claims about the election being stolen are just them trying to placate Our Big Wet President and soothe his massive, fragile ego.”

You know who absolutely doesn’t understand that? Rank-and-file Goddamn Republicans.

These Cult of Savvy fucks still see this as a shared, coded game of People In The Know, where Republican elites say horrible, despicable, dangerous shit and we’re all supposed to understand it as them pushing the boundaries but more-or-less playing within the established rules to try and gain a partisan advantage of some kind, and hey, that’s just The Game, ol’ buddy, ol’ sport.

If we have learned anything at all over the past decade, it’s that Republican voters do not understand this game; they take what they hear from their leaders both literally quite goddamn seriously. They heard that Barack Obama wasn’t born here and may not be a legitimate president – that the PRESIDENT of our COUNTRY was NOT LEGITIMATE. They heard that Obamacare was destroying freedom. They heard that immigrants were pouring over the border and stealing our jobs and murdering beautiful innocent white ladies. They heard that Hillary Clinton had committed myriad crimes, from the bullshit in the 90s to BENGHAZI to compromising our precious national security with her careless, traitorous use of a private email server!

And you know what? Republicans voters didn’t say “Oh, I get it: our party leaders and their lapdogs in the Conservative Infotainment Complex are exaggerating, indulging our biases and fears in order to gain a momentary advantage politically.”

They said “holy shit, this is all really, really bad, and we have to take steps that are commensurate with the problems our leaders are telling us exist!” They believed their leaders, and it drove them bugfuck goddamn insane with paranoia and rage. When Republican elites – from elected politicians to scream machine talking heads to stuffed-shirt lawyers – tell them that the 2020 election was stolen from their God-Emperor, they believe it, and I don’t see any way this doesn’t lead to violence.

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