Trump Impeachment Defense Lawyer Once Won $60 Million in Arizona Corruption Case

Lawyer Eric Herschmann, left, and Debbie Lesko, right, both have roles in President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial starting this week.EXPAND
Lawyer Eric Herschmann, left, and Debbie Lesko, right, both have roles in President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial starting this week.
Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP/White House/U.S. House of Representatives
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

With a historic Senate impeachment trial kicking off today in Washington, the team representing President Donald Trump has not one, but two, Arizona connections.

Trump named U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Lesko to his impeachment team on Monday. The Arizona Republican and longtime Trump supporter said in a tweet she will "continue to fight against this corrupt & unfair process" in her role advising the impeachment defense team.

On that legal defense team, assembled last week, there's also another, lesser-known Arizona tie: a lawyer who once sued an Arizona Corporation Commissioner — and won the hefty sum of $60 million.

His name is Eric Herschmann, and he's a partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, a New York law firm that has represented Trump several times over the last decade and beyond.

But in a previous life, he represented the Southern Union Company, a natural gas utility, which sued former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Jim Irvin and his top aide, Jack Rose, for their attempts to interfere with a merger between Southern Union and Southwest Gas in 1999.

The civil case revealed Irvin and Rose tried to coerce regulators in California and Nevada to reject the Southern Union deal and instead choose an alternative offer from Oklahoma company Oneok.

It turned out Rose had set himself up to make millions in consultant fees if the Oneok purchase went through.

Herschmann led Southern Union's legal team. In 2002, an Arizona Federal District Court ruled in his favor, awarding Southern Union $60 million in punitive damages for Irvin's behavior as corporation commissioner.

Herschmann joins a cadre of other high-profile lawyers defending Trump, including White House counsel Pat Cipollone, former Jeffrey Epstein lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and Clinton impeachment independent investigator Ken Starr, among others.

Two other Arizonans are worth watching in the Senate impeachment trial: Arizona senators Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, and Martha McSally, a Republican.

Some view Sinema as a potential swing vote to acquit Trump, given her centrist voting record in a state that voted to elect Trump in 2016. She hasn't indicated which way she'll vote, but she affirmed her loyalty to the Constitution in a statement to the Arizona Republic, saying, "Senators have a Constitutional duty to treat this process with the gravity and impartiality that our oaths demand."

All eyes are on McSally, too, who has declined to answer reporters' questions about the impeachment, in one case by calling a CNN reporter a "liberal hack" when he tried to ask if the Senate should consider new evidence in the trial.

It would be a surprise if McSally voted against Trump, though her Senate seat is vulnerable in this year's election, and recent filings show she's fallen far behind her Democratic opponent Mark Kelly in campaign contributions.

The impeachment trial started today as senators sat down to debate and vote on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposed trial rules.

If the Senate votes in favor of Trump's guilt, he will be removed from office.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.