Law Firm Stops Representing Trump Campaign in Pennsylvania Suit


Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, the law firm leading the Trump campaign’s efforts to cast doubt on the presidential election results in Pennsylvania, abruptly withdrew from a federal lawsuit that it filed days earlier on behalf of President Trump.

“Plaintiffs and Porter Wright have reached a mutual agreement that plaintiffs will be best served if Porter Wright withdraws,” the law firm said in a federal court filing.

The firm’s withdrawal followed an article in The New York Times on Monday that described internal tensions at the firm about its work for Mr. Trump’s campaign in Pennsylvania. Some employees said they were concerned that the firm was being used to undercut the integrity of the electoral process. One Porter Wright lawyer resigned in protest over the summer.

“Cancel Culture has finally reached the courtroom,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director. “Leftist mobs descended upon some of the lawyers representing the president’s campaign and they buckled.” He added that Mr. Trump’s team “is undeterred” and would continue its litigation.

Porter Wright — which is based in Columbus, Ohio, and has offices in Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. — is one of the few prominent law firms that has been representing Mr. Trump’s campaign or the Republican Party as they challenge aspects of the election.

In states like Arizona, the Trump campaign and Republicans have mostly relied on local law firms, not ones with national profiles, to file cases challenging the election results or the voting process.

An exception is Jones Day, one of the country’s largest law firms. It represented Mr. Trump’s campaigns in 2016 and 2020, and during the Trump presidency, it has been involved in roughly 20 lawsuits involving Mr. Trump, his campaign or the Republican Party.

Most recently, Jones Day has been representing the Republican Party in Pennsylvania in litigation about the handling of mail-in votes received after Election Day. Some partners at the firm have voiced discomfort about its involvement in that case, as well as Jones Day’s broader work for the Trump campaign.

Dave Petrou, a Jones Day spokesman, said in a statement this week that the Pennsylvania litigation involved important constitutional questions. “Jones Day will not withdraw from that representation,” he said. Mr. Petrou noted that the firm had not made allegations of voter fraud and was not contesting the election results.

The Lincoln Project, a well-funded group of anti-Trump Republicans, this week began publicly urging employees of Jones Day and Porter Wright to resign and said it would call on clients to stop working with the firms.

Porter Wright is the firm that has been most involved in the Trump campaign’s efforts to invalidate the results in Pennsylvania, where President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. beat Mr. Trump by more than 50,000 votes.

Porter Wright had filed a number of actions in Pennsylvania courts challenging aspects of the state’s voting process. The suit that the law firm withdrew from was filed on Monday in the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on behalf of the Trump campaign. It alleged that there were “irregularities” in the presidential vote across the state.

Jones Day was not involved in that suit, which is pending. The Democratic National Committee has filed a motion to dismiss it.

A Porter Wright spokeswoman, Melanie Farkas, said on Friday that the firm would work “to ensure transition to substitute counsel, and so as not to cause material adverse effect on the client’s interest.” She declined to comment further.

It isn’t clear if Porter Wright will continue to represent Mr. Trump’s campaign on the other cases it has filed.

Prominent lawyers at Porter Wright have donated to the Trump campaign, according to federal election records.

One partner, Jeremy A. Mercer, spoke at a Trump campaign news conference in Pennsylvania last week. Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, introduced Mr. Mercer as a volunteer election observer who had been “obstructed in a horrible way.” Mr. Mercer added, “We’re there, supposedly observing, but we can’t see.”

Neither mentioned that Mr. Mercer was a lawyer at the firm that was representing Mr. Trump’s campaign. Reached on Friday, Mr. Mercer declined to comment.

On Wednesday, Porter Wright issued a statement noting its “long history of election law work during which we have represented Democratic, Republican and independent campaigns and issues.”

“At times, this calls for us to take on controversial cases,” the statement said. “We expect criticism in such instances, and we affirm the right of all individuals to express concern and disagreement.”

Alan Feuer contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.





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