Trump’s Top Election-Fraud Lawyer, Jesse Binnall, Has Not Paid His Taxes For Years

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Former President Donald Trump and his top election-fraud lawyer, Jesse Binnall, have a number of things in common—they both falsely believe the election was stolen, they hobnob with some of the right’s most unhinged conspiracy theorists, and they routinely complain that they’re the focus of a witch hunt. But another similarity has flown under the radar: Both men avoid paying taxes.

According to IRS records, Binnall owes the U.S. government for unpaid taxes dating back to 2010. The IRS filed a $139,242 lien against Binnall almost four years ago—in August 2018— and it covers unpaid amounts every tax year from 2010 to 2015. Records on file with the City of Alexandria, VA, show that, as of May 5, Binnall has not paid off the lien.

Leslie Levin, an expert in the legal profession at the University of Connecticut School of Law, told The Daily Beast that if Binnall willfully failed to file, he would be breaking the law and possibly violating legal ethics rules.

“It depends on why the lien was levied and why he hasn’t paid. If he refused to file, that raises ethical issues. The deliberate failure to file constitutes a crime,” Levin said. “If he has a good faith basis for contesting whether he owes the money, however, there is no ethical violation there.”

Binnall told The Daily Beast that his failure to pay the government was a matter of financial flexibility.

“Like many small business owners, in the past I had to be financially flexible as my business grew. That has resulted in some tax bills that I have had to arrange to pay over time, instead of all at once. Many business owners have been in the same position,” Binnall said. “The unfortunate question is whether these issues truly arise out of an attempt to serve the public good or whether I am targeted because of the clients I serve.”

Binnall, who has regularly trafficked in outlandish claims of election fraud, is not short on clients, and has handled numerous high-profile cases dating back to before the lien was imposed in 2018. In 2016, for instance, he represented former Sen. Ron Paul (R-KY) aide Dimitri Kesari in a campaign finance case. Kesari was found guilty, and his co-conspirators were later pardoned by Trump—about two months after the then-president hired Binnall.

All told, Binnall’s most famous clients—the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee—have over the last 18 months paid his firm, Harvey & Binnall PLLC, about $1.4 million in legal fees. (The firm has passed along an unknown portion of that money to local partners on those cases.)

Binnall also defends a group tied to conspiracy theorists Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood—called “Defending the Republic, Inc”—in the $1.3 billion lawsuit that Dominion Voting Systems brought against Powell last year. State and federal filings list him as an agent on spin-off groups as well.

Binnall’s firm advertises 10 areas of expertise, from alternative dispute resolution to appeals to white collar defense. His own profile page notes other work, such as his position as president of Parliamentary Strategies, where he advises “professional associations, political parties, candidates, and others” in a variety of matters.

Binnall has in recent years also represented a number of other clients, some in high-profile cases. Last June, for instance, he stepped up as lead defense counsel for Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army, who is battling a barrage of litigation for allegedly ordering troops to torture and kill civilians. That case is ongoing.

Additionally, other entities tied to Binnall have had their tax-exempt status revoked for failure to file their returns, state and federal filings show.

In 2015, Binnall helped create a Virginia nonprofit called Americans for a Better Economy. That group lost its federal 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status in 2020 after it failed to file tax returns for three years. He also served as a board member for America’s Foundation for Law and Liberty Inc. (AFLL), which had its federal tax-exempt status yanked last year, also for failure to file.

As is common among many hardcore fiscal conservatives, Binnall expresses open hostility to the IRS.

Last March, for instance, Binnall compared federal taxation to theft. And in October, about two months after the IRS posted the AFLL’s revocation notice, Binnall publicly attacked the agency twice, falsely alleging that the agency targets conservatives. (The IRS’s bias against conservative groups was the subject of an Obama-era scandal, but years later, a full audit revealed that the agency had also targeted progressive groups at the same time—and the IRS never even revoked a tax-exempt status for a political group.)

Binnall said in his statement that these posts were just part of his broader ideological flow.

“In regards to my statements on social media, I have consistently opposed all government entities that target people on the basis of their politics. That certainly includes the IRS,” he said.

While Trump’s top lawyers have come and gone, Binnall has stepped into the vacuum and, so far, held on. He received his first paycheck the day before the 2020 election, and has expanded his services since then.

Those services include fueling Trump’s Big Lie about a stolen election month after month in various courts and on social media. After receiving that first check, Binnall immediately proceeded to sling lies about voter fraud. At one point he falsely claimed—in sworn Senate testimony—that 1,500 dead people had voted in Nevada. (His election fraud work in that state may have also run afoul of privacy laws and U.S. Postal Service regulations, Salon reported.)

Binnall later griped that YouTube had pulled a video of his Senate testimony, writing on Facebook that the video platform “has decided that my opening statement (given under oath and based upon hard evidence) is too dangerous for you to see.”

And even after the Jan. 6 insurrection, Binnall continued to spread false claims of voter fraud.

Levin, the legal profession expert at UCONN, cautioned against judging lawyers by the people they represent. Binnall’s conduct in those cases, she said, is what’s important.

“If he made false representations to the court while representing his clients, he can be subject to discipline. Even false out-of-court statements that he makes in his capacity as a lawyer for his clients could result in discipline,” Levin said. A number of MAGA-aligned lawyers have been sanctioned for promoting false claims of election fraud—including Binnall clients Powell and Wood.

But in addition to raking it in for legal services, Binnall might also be shelling it out. The parents of a former client have sued him in Virginia state court for fraud and malpractice, to the tune of $2,550,000, after paying Binnall $336,000—more than twice his federal lien—to defend their son in a child sexual exploitation case. The complaint alleges that Binnall failed to tell his client, who is currently serving out a 10-year sentence, that an Assistant U.S. Attorney had proposed a plea bargain.

“If he didn’t tell his client about a potential plea bargain, that is very serious,” Levin said. “The client gets to decide whether to take a plea and that is obviously not possible if the lawyer never communicates the plea offer.”

Binnall decried the lawsuit as “frivolous,” possibly to the point of sanctions.

“The litigation against my firm and me is legally and factually baseless. Not only do we look forward to winning the case, but we also look forward to getting sanctions against the plaintiffs and their lawyers for bringing a frivolous lawsuit,” he said.

Michael Teter, managing director of the 65 Project, a group that aims to hold accountable attorneys who spurred the Jan. 6 insurrection and spread election fraud, said that the sprawl of allegations against Binnall, if true, raises ethical concerns.

“On its face, Mr. Binnall’s conduct violates many rules of professional conduct,” Teter told The Daily Beast, listing requirements that attorneys be truthful to tribunals, avoid fraudulent or illegal conduct, and notify clients of plea proposals.

“It appears that Mr. Binnall’s work spreading lies and falsehoods in court about the 2020 election was not the only time he’s violated the rules of professional conduct, and the bar should take any complaints filed against him very seriously,” he said.

While numerous Trump-aligned attorneys have been hit with bar complaints, including some Binnall clients, none have been reported against Binnall.