Abbe Lowell, who represents Hunter Biden in his ongoing legal battles, accused Republicans this week of “turning a blind eye” to concerns about the business practices of former President Donald Trump and Trump family members who served in the White House.
Drawing attention to issues about Trump’s office-holding family members, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, was striking coming from Lowell because he once represented them.
Lowell, one of Washington, D.C.’s most high-powered lawyers, has for months been Biden’s lead attorney. He is defending the first son in a federal case brought by special counsel David Weiss and in Congress as House Republicans attempt to tie his controversial foreign business dealings to his father, President Joe Biden, as part of an impeachment inquiry.
After House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) subpoenaed Hunter Biden for a deposition, Lowell responded in a letter, in part, by making references to Kushner and Ivanka Trump without directly naming them.
Lowell said, “You state that one of your purposes is to review how a President’s family’s business activities raise ethics and disclosure concerns to inform the basis for a legislative solution.”
He continued, “But all your focus has been on this President’s family while turning a blind eye toward former President Trump and his family’s businesses, some of which the family maintained while serving in office—an area ripe to inform your purported legislative pursuits.”
Lowell represented Kushner and Ivanka Trump from 2017 until at least 2019 on numerous occasions during the Department of Justice’s inquiry into allegations the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and in congressional investigations.
The pair, who are married, served as senior advisers in the Trump White House beginning in 2017 while also holding on to some of their own business ventures. Kushner’s family had a real estate company, and, post-White House, his private equity fund would take in $2 billion from Saudi Arabia. Before joining the White House, Ivanka Trump was an executive vice president of her family’s real estate company. She maintained an eponymous fashion brand through 2018.
As Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Lowell would later make an unnamed reference about them in February 2023 and then another on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in August 2023. During the latter, Lowell noted the “fundamental difference” between his current client and the Trump children who served as advisers to the president.
Mark Paoletta, a partner at a Washington, D.C.-based firm, found Lowell’s latest remark to Comer about them, however, “troubling.”
Paoletta served as general counsel in the Trump administration and has a wealth of experience with congressional investigations, having both led them as chief counsel for a decade and represented clients who were investigative targets.
“It’s troubling that Abbe Lowell is suggesting the Committee investigate his former clients to help his current client,” Paoletta said. “That’s certainly not professional and raises legal ethics and bar rules questions.”
Another lawyer, who works as a senior congressional investigator, called it “abnormal and unprofessional,” observing, like Paoletta, that Lowell’s statement amounted to a lawyer calling for an investigation into a former client.
“If Lowell is making this comparison based on confidences he learned while representing the Trump family, it would seem to be grounds for an ethics inquiry—he’s violating the duty of confidentiality,” the congressional investigator said.
He also questioned how Lowell’s former clients would feel about Lowell “casually throwing them under the bus after the representation ends.”
Lowell has been barred in Washington since the 1980s, according to public record, and taken on famous clients ranging from former President Bill Clinton to twice-indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs.
Lowell has remained in good standing, although he did come under DOJ scrutiny in 2020, according to the New York Times, for his involvement in an alleged bribery-for-pardon scheme involving Hugh Baras, who was convicted of tax evasion. Lowell was never accused of wrongdoing despite being a target of the investigation.
Regarding his prior involvement with Kushner and Ivanka Trump, in Washington, professional conduct rules mandate that lawyers do not damage their clients during the lawyer-client relationship and prohibit numerous conflict of interest scenarios regarding former clients. Model rules set forth by the American Bar Association also go as far as to say lawyers cannot use negative information about a former client for the benefit of a current client.
Lowell could have formally terminated his lawyer-client relationship with Kushner and Ivanka Trump years ago, but the Washington Examiner was unable to confirm when that would have occurred.
Lowell did not respond to a request for comment. An attorney for Kushner’s business did not respond to a request for comment.