Do not let the right wing undermine the brave Trump accusers. Not today. Not ever. I stand with them.
A far right journalist*, who Washington Monthly called "the easiest mark in the business for GOP oppo research hits," along with other influencers on the far right, are trying to cast doubt on the very credible accusations of sexual harassment and assault against Donald Trump by creating a hit piece, suggesting that I offered women money to come up with stories against him. That is false.
Tellingly, Bill O’Reilly referenced this article a couple of days before it posted. I represented the three women who took down O’Reilly earlier this year and am currently in active litigation against him on behalf of another client. This is just his latest effort to try and discredit my clients and me.
But it’s not going to stop me from representing O’Reilly or Trump accusers or speaking out about their vile misogyny.
Let me start with the headline. Even this spurious article, written with the intention of casting doubt on the accusers, includes this important fact: that the victims who came forward were telling the truth. “Both that woman and Harth, who were friends, stressed that Bloom never asked them to make any statements or allegations except what they believed to be true.”
During the 2016 presidential campaign, many women contacted me with sexual misconduct allegations against Trump. My Bloom Firm team vetted each of them, as we do all cases like this, with extensive background checks, social media reviews, analyzing relevant documents from the time of the incident, such as calendars, notes, photos, etc. We speak to friends, family and witnesses. Potential clients don’t like this process and sometimes complain about it, but we insist on it. Four Trump accusers passed this review with sufficient credibility and corroboration that we agreed to represent them.
Now, a note about my law firm. Many attorneys went to law school to do the kind of civil rights work we do at the Bloom Firm: representing almost entirely victims against powerful individuals and companies. But few end up doing it. Those who try quickly go out of business and wind up back on the corporate side. As a result, victims have a very hard time finding lawyers. Why? Because it is not only very challenging work, where lawyers will immediately be subjected to frequent threats of violence and waves of hate, but because it’s an economic challenge to keep the doors open for business in a civil rights firm. A few of our clients can afford our hourly rates, but not many. In other cases, we take a percentage of the recovery. But what about worthy matters that are beyond the statute of limitations, where women really need legal help? How can we help them and also meet our payroll (over sixteen lawyers and Bloom Firm staffers currently), rent, insurance, taxes and other significant business expenses?
In pro bono cases (where we work for free or at sharply reduced fees), we add a line in our client agreements that if the client gets paid for media interviews our law firm gets one-third. This seems fair to us and our clients. We also say in the agreement itself that it’s extremely unlikely. So it’s in our standard contracts, but rarely invoked.
Most people do not get paid for interviews. But some shows will offer a few thousand dollars to license photos, or for an appearance fee. When my client is a single mother, unemployed, in dire need of therapy, on the verge of bankruptcy or all of the above, she may choose to do an interview with the outlet that will compensate her. A few thousand dollars hardly levels the playing field against a billionaire like Donald Trump, but it helps a little, and I leave that decision to my client, after she’s been fully vetted for veracity.
Due to an unexpected turn of events, donors also reached out to help some of my clients last year.
Just before the election, on November 3, 2016, one of my four Trump accusers, Jane Doe, agreed to speak at a press conference at my office. During the lead-up to the press conference, she and I received multiple death and rape threats. Moments before the press conference was scheduled to begin, Jane Doe backed out. She was afraid. My heart went out to her and I think many understood her fear and pain. Of course, I respected her decision and helped her remove herself from the narrative and dismiss a case she’d filed, as she instructed.
The cancelled press conference was widely reported. Multiple donors then contacted me out of the blue with offers to ensure the safety of women who might still come forward. As an attorney I was obligated to relay those offers of funds for relocation to a safer community and round the clock security, and I was happy to do it. And I offered what people come to me for – my opinion and advice. My clients wanted to tell their stories, and now here was a safer way to do it.
I spend a great deal of time talking scared, stressed women through the pros and cons of speaking out against high profile men. For those who reached out to me with credible, corroborated allegations against Trump, I was not neutral. I encouraged them to overcome their fear, experience empowerment, and potentially spare the country the election of an indecent and destructive man, who based on his lifetime history of misogyny alone should have been disqualified. All the better if their safety could be ensured. I believed they ultimately would be glad they did, as my clients almost always are after they speak out.
For example, I've spent much of this week in Washington, DC with my brave pro bono client Marion Brown, who I represented against Democratic Congressman John Conyers. While Marion was fearful at first, ultimately she chose to speak out, and this week we were received with great respect in our meetings with Congress members and staffers. She says she has found her purpose and is positively radiant as we press for sexual harassment reforms. (You go, Marion.) Silence breaking is healthy. Many of my clients experience this empowerment and helping them achieve it is the best part of what I do.
Back to my Trump accusers. It now appears that one of them, who at the end asked for large sums of money that the donors were not willing to pay, became frustrated and ultimately did not speak out, has since connected with Trump attorneys and this pro-Trump reporter to create a smear story about me. That’s disappointing, but also a byproduct of this line of work in our culture of anger and hate. Sadly, hurt people get used and manipulated by powerful forces. Despite all that, I still believe her corroborated allegations against Trump, which she repeats in this article, and hope she finds peace. She’s not going to find it by trying to drag down other Trump accusers or their lawyers.
I have spent my career representing women and some men who have been the victims of sexual misconduct. At last, society is finally saying, enough -- and people who have not been victims are doing what they can to support those who are. I hope that these changes will stick, so that women and men no longer have to put up with sexual misconduct as the price of a job. And I hope that those who come forward will no longer have to pay the heavy price that victims of the past had to pay, and that many today are still paying. And I sincerely hope that harassers will no longer be afforded the privilege of serving our nation, regardless of political party.
It is my pleasure to give Jill Harth, a cherished client and friend, and the brave, first Trump accuser, the last word:
Having to retell my experiences of Donald Trump's harassment is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I consider myself lucky to have had Lisa Bloom by my side after my old lawsuit resurfaced. She advised me with great competence and compassion. As we were telling our stories, all of us were hit with frightening threats, hate, and lies dredged up by Trump’s investigators. Another accuser, who I knew and referred to Lisa, asked for monetary assistance so she could relocate. She kept changing her mind about whether she wanted to tell her story and ultimately she didn’t, which I understand. Lisa was patient and kind to her, as Lisa always was with me.
I'm terribly disappointed that anyone would suggest Lisa was trying to pay women to come up with stories. It's simply not true. Lisa, pro bono, was trying to HELP, against a powerful billionaire who was elected even though 19 of us ultimately came out and accused him of sexual misconduct. These continued attacks on accusers and our lawyers is what makes it so hard for women to speak out, even now.
*John Solomon is known for making "much ado about very little" (Columbia Journalism Review) and for "weaponizing" stories about progressives like me to feed to Fox News. He's been called "the easiest mark in the business for GOP oppo research hits." (Washington Monthly).