Less than full disclosure from the New York Times

Yesterday, the New York Times carried an op-ed by Bob Bauer. As the title — “Trump’s Shamelessness Was Outside Mueller’s Jurisdiction” — suggests, the op-ed is just another attempt to talk around the fact that Robert Mueller cleared President Trump of “collusion” with Russia.

What’s notable about the article is how the New York Times identifies Bauer. The Times states:

Mr. Bauer is a professor of practice and distinguished scholar in residence at New York University School of Law.

That’s true as far as it goes. But for purposes of an op-ed about the Mueller investigation of alleged collusion with Russia, it doesn’t go very far.

Until May 2018, Bauer was a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm. Moreover, when Bauer left the firm, it announced that he “will maintain his representation of a number of key clients in an individual, solo capacity and will co-counsel with Perkins Coie on a number of those representations.”

At Perkins Coie, Bauer headed the firm’s “political law practice” — the largest in the country. It became the go-to practice for prominent Democrats trying to use lawyers to win elections.

During the 2016 presidential race, Perkins Coie served as the private lawyers for the Democratic National Committee. According to The Hill, both the DNC and the Clinton campaign used Perkins Coie secretly to pay Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele to compile a dossier of uncorroborated raw intelligence alleging Trump and Moscow were colluding to hijack the presidential election.

Fake intelligence in that dossier was then used by the FBI as the main basis for seeking a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant targeting the Trump campaign in the final days of the campaign. After the election, the dossier continued to be used by those pushing claims of collusion.

These claims led to the Mueller investigation. It’s unclear whether, without the dossier, there would ever have been an investigation into (nonexistent) collusion.

Given the role of Bauer’s law firm in ginning up the collusion narrative, the Times should not have run an op-ed by Bauer about the Mueller investigation and where things stand in light of the collapse of the narrative that led to it. If the Times was going to run such an op-ed, it should have disclosed Bauer’s affiliation with Perkins Coie — both his leadership role as of 2016 and, arguably, the ongoing affiliation cited in the 2018 announcement (assuming it persists).

It’s not hard to find partisans who will castigate Trump for “shamelessness.” The Times didn’t need Bauer to perform this task. In any event, there is no excuse I know of for not providing full disclosure about his connection, via Perkins Coie, to the events at issue in the investigation about which Bauer was commenting.

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