What Alina Habba Is Really Good At
It ain’t lawyering in the courtroom.
ALINA HABBA, DONALD TRUMP’S PRINCIPAL LAWYER in civil cases, seems to be bad at her job. Last fall, she and her law partner lost a massive fraud case against Trump. Two weeks ago, she lost an $83.3 million judgment against Trump in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case. Habba’s work in court has been widely panned as incompetent. Trump has said that he is seeking new counsel to represent him in his appeal in the Carroll case, which has led to speculation that his defeat prompted him to fire Habba. (A spokeswoman for Habba has denied that speculation.)
But Habba seems to be doing well at what we might call her second job: using press conferences and TV appearances to raise money for Trump’s political organizations—organizations that are, in turn, funneling millions of dollars back to Alina Habba.
Most lawyers try to protect their clients by avoiding fights they don’t have to get into. Habba, by contrast, throws herself into politics. She parrots Trump’s buzzwords: “rigged” courts, “witch hunts,” the “Russia Hoax,” the “Box Hoax,” “Impeachment Hoax One,” “Impeachment Hoax Two,” “left-wing woke liberals,” “Sleepy Joe,” and the “Biden crime family.” She prods conservatives to “get out there and vote” in 2024. “Your borders are going to hell,” she tells them. “Our country is a mess.”
When Trump gets indicted or loses in court, Habba brags that these setbacks will help him politically. She routinely brings up polls. “Every time they try and take him down, his base grows stronger,” she asserted last year. After Trump lost the fraud ruling last fall, Habba stood in front of the courthouse and boasted that he was “leading in the polls, the more they hit him. So keep hitting him.”
No sensible lawyer would invite the government to pursue her client. But Habba isn’t just Trump’s lawyer. She’s also the general counsel to Trump’s Save America PAC, and she’s a senior adviser to the Trump-aligned Make America Great Again Inc. super PAC. In these roles, she thinks about politics and money.
In October 2022, two weeks before the midterm elections, Habba appeared on Newsmax as the spokesperson for MAGA Inc. She was asked why that super PAC, compared to other conservative PACs, had spent relatively little on ads for Republican candidates. Habba replied that MAGA Inc. was supplying something more important: “Donald Trump, who’s leading in the polls for the GOP.” She said Trump was juicing turnout by holding rallies. That, she argued, was “where the value is.”
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But now we know where a lot of the money has gone. An Associated Press analysis, published a few days ago, found that 84 percent of the funds spent last year by Save America went to legal fees. In the last two years, Save America, MAGA Inc., the Trump campaign, and other Trump entities have poured more than $75 million into legal fees. And $6 million of that money went to Habba.
ONCE YOU UNDERSTAND where the money is coming from and where it’s going, Habba’s TV hits and press conferences make more sense. She’s not just defending a client. She’s also speaking to the donors who are making her rich. In fact, a review of fundraising emails shows that the messages she’s delivering sound a lot like the messages these donors are getting from Trump’s solicitation headquarters, the Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee.
On June 13, Habba spoke to reporters outside a federal courthouse in Miami as Trump was arraigned on charges related to his concealment of classified documents. She claimed that the targeting of Trump by “politically motivated prosecutors” showed that
the people in charge of this country do not love America. They hate Donald Trump. What we are witnessing today is the blatant and unapologetic weaponization of the criminal justice system. The Biden-appointed special counsel has saw fit to bring 37 federal charges against President Trump, the leading frontrunner, less than a year and a half before an election.
That evening, in an email to donors, Trump’s fundraising committee issued the same allegation: that “the federal government has used its prosecutorial powers to charge the leading opponent of the current regime” (emphases in original, here and in all quoted emails). A second email from the committee, sent later that night, accused Biden of running “a weaponized legal system.” Just above the button to click for donations, the email displayed a picture of Trump with the text: “They only hate me because I fight for YOU.”
On August 3, Habba spoke outside a federal courthouse in Washington, D.C. as Trump was arraigned on charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election. She accused prosecutors of hounding Trump with indictments to keep him “distracted” from his presidential campaign and to cover up Biden’s crimes, including bribery. She claimed that Trump’s enemies were trying to destroy him because he “cannot be bought by Washington.” But she vowed that he would fight on “for the American people.”
That evening, in an email to donors, Trump’s fundraising committee called the indictments
One massive distraction intended to COVER UP Crooked Joe’s mountain of crimes. While the sitting president is actively selling out our country and accepting MILLIONS of dollars in bribes, his corrupt DOJ is trying to JAIL me for LIFE all because I have vowed to FIRE Crooked Joe and return power to YOU – the PEOPLE.
A few hours later, a second email from the committee declared that Trump’s enemies were trying to stop him because “President Trump is the ONLY candidate who can’t be bought, bullied, or controlled.”
On January 24, Trump’s committee told donors that he had established himself as the GOP’s obvious nominee for president. “THIS RACE IS OVER!” Trump proclaimed in the email. “I just won the New Hampshire primary, and I delivered BACK TO BACK landslide victories.” On January 25, the committee followed up with an email that invited donors to click a button marked, “END THE WITCH HUNT.” And on January 26, as Trump went to court for closing arguments in the Carroll case, the committee told donors: “Never before in American HISTORY has this happened to the leading candidate for President.”
That evening, the jury issued its $83.3 million judgment. In response, Habba stood before the press and decried “these witch hunts” against Trump. She claimed that Trump, “the leading candidate and obvious nominee for the Republican party,” was being persecuted because he was “leading in the polls. . . . So many Americans are so proud that he is running again and [are] so excited to run to the ballot box.”
That night, the Trump committee sent an email calling on donors to “STAND WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP” as “Another WITCH HUNT trial rules against me.”
The emails don’t match Habba’s statements word for word, of course. But given her roles at Save America and MAGA Inc., the connection is obvious. It’s also worth noting that Habba has freely accused her adversary in the fraud case, New York Attorney General Letitia James, of using press appearances at the fraud trial to raise campaign funds. “She is doing it so that she can make money, so that she can run,” Habba told Fox News in November. If Habba imagines that James is thinking that way, you can be sure Habba is thinking that way herself.
But the greater danger isn’t that Habba wants money. It’s that she also wants revenge. In 2022, she fantasized about turning the tables on Trump’s persecutors. “If President Trump is the president again in ’24,” she declared, “I would be proud to go after all of this myself.” Last July, she predicted that “if we get back in power,” Trump would “investigate” his enemies. A week later, she vowed: “When he wins, he will clean house. And you know what that means? Everyone that’s hitting him hard is out.”
Let’s hope she just wants the money.