Nov 15 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Wednesday denied a motion by former Donald Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy to sanction law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher over allegations that one of its lawyers had a conflict of interest in defending a man accused of hacking Broidy’s emails.
Gibson Dunn in August 2022 withdrew from the defense of former CIA officer Kevin Chalker and his company Global Risk Advisors in a 2019 lawsuit brought in Manhattan federal court by Broidy, who raised money for Trump and accused Chalker of hacking his emails on behalf of Qatar.
Broidy had accused a Gibson Dunn partner on Chalker’s defense team, former Department of Justice lawyer Zainab Ahmad, of having a conflict because she investigated the alleged hacking while working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose office probed Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
The firm denied it had a conflict and said it withdrew when Chalker decided to hire a different firm for business reasons. Ahmad said in a sworn declaration in March that she was never involved in any investigation into Broidy and never learned any confidential information relevant to the case.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Mary Vyskocil denied Broidy’s lawyers’ request to have Gibson Dunn pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees they incurred for investigating and litigating the potential conflict. Broidy did not specify how much he was seeking.
Vyskocil wrote that the legal basis for disqualifying a lawyer was high, and that the plaintiffs did not prove Gibson Dunn acted in bad faith. She said evidence suggested that the firm “had a good faith basis to believe that Ms. Ahmad did not have a conflict of interest.”
Lawyers for Broidy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither Ahmad nor a Gibson Dunn spokesperson immediately responded to requests for comment.
Broidy, an outspoken critic of Qatar’s government, said in the lawsuit that the Middle Eastern country’s government hired Global Risk Advisors to hack his emails, some of which were leaked to the media. Qatar, Chalker and the company have all denied his claims.
The case is Broidy v. Global Risk Advisors LLC, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1:19-cv-11861.
For Broidy: Daniel Benson, Andrew Kurland, Henry Brownstein and Sarah Leivick of Kasowitz Benson Torres
For Global Risk Advisors: Kevin Carroll, Marc Weinstein and Amina Hassan of Hughes Hubbard & Reed
Gibson Dunn partner denies conflict of interest in Qatar hacking case
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