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Meet the legal nerd who MAGA bigwigs are turning to for help



Woodward’s eye-opening consumer checklist goes on. He represents Trump aide Walt Nauta, one other determine of curiosity to prosecutors investigating the Mar-a-Lago paperwork, and Ryan Samsel, a distinguished Jan. 6 rioter accused of igniting the Jan. 6 breach. He and his regulation associate — Tip O’Neill-era House counsel Stan Brand — filed a brief on behalf of GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy throughout the contempt of Congress proceedings towards Steve Bannon. And he’s currently representing Peter Navarro, whose felony trial for defying a Jan. 6 committee subpoena is slated to start in early 2023.

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” Woodward mentioned wryly when a reporter commented on his crushing workload as he entered the courthouse on that Oct. 19 morning.

Just a few days later, Woodward nearly fulfilled his prophecy, when a automotive collided with the scooter he was driving, sending him to George Washington University hospital. While there, he underwent shoulder surgical procedure. While in restoration, he was wheeled to the supply room to witness the start of his fourth youngster, who is now a month previous.

Among a crew recognized for their huge personalities and in-your-face political postures, the mild-mannered Woodward could also be the most prolific Trump-world warrior you’ve by no means heard of. That’s precisely how he prefers it.

Tall, bespectacled and bearded, Woodward stands out in a courtroom filled with clean-cut attorneys and paralegals. In the courtroom, he speaks with the certitude of a lawyer who has accomplished his homework. During breaks, he flits round with the harried demeanor of a person with a frightening roster of high-maintenance shoppers.

Those who know Woodward say Trumpian figures are drawn to him exactly as a result of he’s what many legal professionals who find yourself in Trump circles are not. He’s neither a bomb-thrower nor a headline-seeker. He’s a regulation nerd in a world of political operatives. And it’s the separation he has from the Trump loyalty-at-any-cost mentality that’s made him in demand amongst MAGA figures embroiled in the legal morass that adopted Trump since Jan. 6.

“The usual suspects of Trump world are tired and discredited,” one Woodward affiliate mentioned. “People are lucky to have him. He’s not operating with blinders on.”

Between October 2021 and Sept. 30, 2022, Trump’s Save America PAC shelled out $120,000 to Brand Woodward Law. Prosecutors have raised questions about public information stories suggesting that a number of Oath Keepers, together with Kelly and Connie Meggs, have had legal bills paid by a bunch led by Sidney Powell, a former Trump legal professional. Woodward and his co-counsel Juli Haller — a Powell ally — declined to publicly point out whether or not they had accepted funds from Powell’s group however mentioned they have been in compliance with all guidelines pertaining to potential attorney-client conflicts.

Woodward’s precise politics are a little bit of a black field. But what is thought suggests somebody not precisely of the MAGA mould. He works with Brand, himself a product of the Democratic-run House of the Eighties, and has eschewed overt political commentary. Woodward’s spouse, Kristin McGough, is an completed felony protection legal professional and counsel to the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, which is concentrated on lowering racial disparities in the felony justice system.

Woodward’s still-young profession has been bookended by nationwide and worldwide crises. After graduating from Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law in 2008 and clerking for three judges in the Washington, D.C., court docket system, he joined the huge regulation agency Akin Gump in the throes of the mortgage disaster that tanked the U.S. financial system. Brand mentioned the conflicts and strictures of massive regulation companies grated on each of them.

Woodward primarily labored on advanced civil litigation — from issues stemming from the monetary disaster to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He would stay at Akin Gump till mid-2020 when, as Covid lockdowns gripped the world, he determined to take an opportunity on Brand, who had been cajoling him to begin their very own observe targeted on congressional and white-collar investigations.

“The world has changed, seemingly overnight,” Woodward wrote in a social media post saying his determination to go away Akin Gump. “What I know is that at home, with my three young boys, I am resolved to join the fray. … Am I afraid? Yes. But with Stan, I hope to make a difference.”

Prior to his foray into Trump world and Jan. 6 defendants, Brand was often known as one among the most aggressive defenders of congressional prerogatives on behalf of Tip O’Neill’s House of Representatives. His experience in congressional investigations made him in excessive demand after he left Congress. Scavino turned a consumer of Brand’s prior to his departure from Akin Gump and remained with him after he joined forces with Woodward.

Today, Brand prefers to function as the architect of legal methods whereas his mentees execute these methods in court docket. His tutelage has boosted the careers of a number of distinguished attorneys who turned high-profile figures throughout the Trump years. They embrace Abbe Lowell, who represented Jared Kushner throughout the Mueller investigation, and Stephen Ryan, who represented ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. He says Woodward could also be his greatest discover of the bunch.

“This guy has extraordinary capacity to juggle balls and to understand in depth the legal concepts and issues, and pick them up very quickly,” mentioned Brand.

But there are limits to the abilities Woodward possesses and deploys in service of a few of the most polarizing figures to face felony and legal penalties following the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. Good lawyering can solely get a consumer up to now.

Meggs, on Tuesday, turned one among the first Americans convicted of seditious conspiracy in additional than a decade. And after the verdict got here in, a dejected Woodward declined to communicate to reporters. “The fight goes on,” he mentioned, a sign of a probable attraction for Meggs, who faces a long time in jail.

Woodward additionally represents Samsel, who charged at police barricades on the early afternoon of Jan. 6, a second many imagine was the set off level of the complete Capitol breach. He additionally represents Freddie Klein, a Trump-appointed State Department official who spent hours amid the mob at the most infamous scorching spot of Jan. 6 violence, the Lower West Terrace tunnel.

Navarro, in the meantime, stands accused of defying a congressional subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee, which sought to interview him about his effort to derail the switch of energy by working with GOP lawmakers to problem Joe Biden’s electors. And Scavino, who averted a contempt of Congress cost regardless of declining to seem earlier than the Jan. 6 committee, was a distinguished surrogate for Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election outcomes and was current for many conversations with Trump in the weeks earlier than Jan. 6.

But whether or not Woodward feels an ethical battle about the shoppers he has chosen and the circumstances he’s arguing is beside the level, Brand mentioned in an interview.

“The fact that it’s Trump is happenstantial. No one I’m aware of has asked us what our political bona fides are,” mentioned Brand. “What they care about is, how do we practice defense? There’s no litmus test for us.”

Brand famous that all through historical past, attorneys related to one celebration or one other have taken high-profile shoppers who would possibly reduce towards their politics. Edward Bennett Williams, the treasurer of the DNC in the Seventies, represented mobsters. William Hundley, an ally of Robert Kennedy, went on to characterize Watergate shoppers.

“That’s the slice of life in Washington that has always existed,” Brand famous.

Ryan described Woodward’s success as a comparatively easy components: Strong and persuasive writing, a genuinely likable persona and a willingness to tackle polarizing shoppers, significantly after the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

“After 1/6, there was a lot of, I think, reluctance in the white-collar bar to take some of these people,” Ryan mentioned. “I know of lawyers who normally are fearless about taking someone who’s unpopular. I think there was a stigma after 1/6 on some of these people.”

While Trump and his allies are typically recognized to assault the very justice system that can decide their destiny, Woodward cast amicable relationships with judges and the prosecutors he litigates towards, as has been on show at numerous moments throughout the Oath Keepers trial.

Just a few days after his late-October scooter accident, Woodward returned to the courthouse, proper arm in a sling, to resume Meggs’ seditious conspiracy protection. His return was greeted by DOJ and protection attorneys, in addition to U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta, with a heat spherical of applause. On Nov. 14, when Mehta and one other Oath Keeper protection legal professional debated whether or not to introduce proof about his consumer’s use of the potent ache medicine Opana, somebody jokingly chimed in, “Mr. Woodward can testify.”

“I would characterize him as an amazingly intelligent man with a deep grasp of the rules of evidence,” mentioned Lee Bright, a Texas-based protection lawyer for Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes. “That, compounded by a commanding presence in the courtroom, results in his being a formidable attorney to have as your advocate.”

Woodward is aware of he’s taking part in a difficult hand in a few of these circumstances. Jan. 6 defendants have been nearly universally convicted by Washington, D.C., juries, and whereas jurors are vetted and chosen for their pledges to be neutral, protection attorneys have repeatedly raised worries that D.C.’s antipathy for Trump might create an excellent higher impediment to an acquittal. Woodward sought to blunt these points as he appealed to jurors for an acquittal.

“I won’t ask you to agree with Mr. Meggs’ political beliefs, his preference for the president of the United States,” Woodward advised the Oath Keepers jury throughout Nov. 3 arguments. “I will ask you to read, to hear the evidence in this case, the messages, and to decide whether the evidence was a plan, a scheme — something nefarious — or whether, as others have observed, they represent hyperbole, political rhetoric.”

Ultimately, the jury disagreed.

It’s not simply his amount of high-profile shoppers that has drawn murmurs amongst fellow legal professionals and the reporters who cowl the many issues Woodward is concerned in. He’s additionally been tasked with litigating a few of the most advanced challenges dealing with Trump world, together with Trump’s potential — or lack thereof — to assert government privilege as an ex-president.

Woodward spent a latest Friday sparring with Mehta over whether or not a personal dialog between Trump and Navarro — with no witnesses however the two males — will be sufficient to show Trump tried to assert the privilege.

Woodward famous that Navarro could be unlikely to testify about the dialog, since doing so would waive his Fifth Amendment rights towards self-incrimination. Mehta famous that there was one different individual Woodward might name to vouch for Navarro’s model of the dialog.

“I don’t want to do that,” Woodward replied, describing Trump as a witness “who I don’t want to be involved in the process.”

Woodward’s allies say it’s not misplaced on him that his work on these issues, although, might reverberate throughout historical past — {that a} man in a sling who spends his restricted spare time setting up Lego units together with his youngsters might form the contours of presidential energy.

It’s a outstanding place for Woodward to be. And one others didn’t think about for him. Ryan famous that Woodward has been in contention for a D.C. Superior Court judgeship, chosen in November 2020 by the district’s Judicial Nominating Commission as a finalist for a presidential nomination to fill a emptiness. But given the trajectory of his profession and his determination to tackle a raft of polarizing shoppers, he mentioned it’s unclear whether or not that path will materialize once more.

“These things do mark you,” Ryan mentioned. “Life is never the same after you do these kinds of things.”



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