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Jeffrey Epstein, Blackmail and a Profitable ‘Hot Checklist’


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Jeffrey Epstein, Blackmail and a Profitable ‘Hot Checklist’

Soon after the sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein died in August, a mysterious man met with two prominent lawyers. Towering, barrel-chested and wild-bearded, he was a prodigious drinker and often wore flip-flops. He went by a pseudonym, Patrick Kessler — a necessity, he said, given the shadowy, dangerous world that he inhabited.He told the lawyers he…

Jeffrey Epstein, Blackmail and a Profitable ‘Hot Checklist’

Quickly after the intercourse prison Jeffrey Epstein died in August, a mysterious man met with two prominent lawyers.

Towering, barrel-chested and wild-bearded, he become once a prodigious drinker and in overall wore flip-flops. He passed by a pseudonym, Patrick Kessler — a necessity, he talked about, given the shaded, unhealthy world that he inhabited.

He told the lawyers he had one thing incendiary: an gigantic archive of Mr. Epstein’s files, saved on encrypted servers out of the country. He talked about he had years of the financier’s communications and financial files — as properly as hundreds of hours of footage from hidden cameras in the bedrooms of Mr. Epstein’s properties. The flicks, Kessler talked about, captured some of the field’s richest, most extra special men in compromising sexual eventualities — even in the act of rape.


See “The Weekly,” The Times’s unique TV demonstrate on FX and Hulu

A mysterious man told us he had surveillance footage from Jeffrey Epstein’s properties. Then his yarn took a turn.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] “The yarn surely began for us the day in July that Jeffrey Epstein become once arrested and criminally charged with intercourse trafficking of minors.” “All straight away he become once any individual we had been enthusiastic about. One in every of the mountainous questions become once, where his money become once from?” “How does any individual love that attain up with hundreds of millions of bucks?” “And we had been tantalized by the indisputable truth that he perceived to have influence with barely plenty of extra special folk.” “These weren’t fashions and Hollywood folk. These are some of the largest names in enterprise and finance.” “They had been Nobel Prize winners, Wall Aspect freeway bigwigs.” “The list goes on and on. And we wanted to figure out why folk had gravitated to him even after he had become is named a sexual predator.” “After which in September our reporters met a man who claimed to have a secret trove of files from Epstein’s properties.” “Here’s any individual who had unheard of, doubtlessly unparalleled internal access, to no longer most efficient Epstein, but Epstein’s digital archive.” “If what the informant become once announcing become once correct, it had the ability to release Jeffrey Epstein’s most necessary secrets.” [MUSIC PLAYING]

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Credit ratingCredit rating…“The Weekly”/The Contemporary York Times/FX/Hulu

Kessler talked about he wanted to roar these men. If he become once telling the reality, his trove would per chance per chance reply one amongst the Epstein saga’s most baffling questions: How did a college dropout and excessive school math teacher amass a purported nine-figure fortune? One persistent but unproven theory become once that he ran a sprawling blackmail operation. That could demonstrate why moguls, scientists, political leaders and a royal stayed valid to him, in some cases even after he first went to jail.

Kessler’s legend become once enough to hook the two lawyers, the current litigator David Boies and his friend John Stanley Pottinger. If Kessler become once legitimate, his movies would arm them with mountainous leverage over some necessary folk.

Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger discussed a opinion. They’d per chance utilize the supposed footage in litigation or to take a look at out to be triumphant in deals with men who regarded in it, with money flowing into a charitable basis. In encrypted chats with Kessler, Mr. Pottinger referred to a roster of likely targets because the “sizzling list.” He described hypothetical plans in which the lawyers would pocket up to 40 p.c of the settlements and can extract money from properly off men by flipping from representing victims to representing their alleged abusers.

The probabilities had been bright — and extended previous vindicating victims. Mr. Pottinger seen a probability to supercharge his regulations prepare. For Mr. Boies, there become once a shot at redemption, after years of criticism for his work on behalf of Theranos and Harvey Weinstein.

In the tip, there will be no damning movies, no funds pouring into a brand unique basis. Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger would walk from toasting Kessler as their “whistle-blower” and “informant” to torching him as a “fraudster” and a “glance.”

Kessler become once a liar, and he wouldn’t present any sexual abuse. But he would demonstrate one thing else: The unheard of, at occasions deceitful measures elite lawyers deployed with the map to derive proof that will be passe to take profitable settlements — and support misconduct hidden, allowing perpetrators to abuse one more time.

Mr. Boies has publicly decried such secret deals as “properly off man’s justice,” a come that extra special men buy their come out of gorgeous and reputational jeopardy. Here’s how it works.

The man who called himself Kessler first contacted a Florida attorney, Bradley J. Edwards, who become once in the news for representing ladies with claims in opposition to Mr. Epstein. It become once late August, about two weeks after the financier killed himself in a jail cell whereas making an try forward to trial on federal intercourse-trafficking charges.

Mr. Edwards, who did no longer reply to interview requests, had a regulations firm called Edwards Pottinger, and he soon referred Kessler to his Contemporary York accomplice. Silver-haired and 79, Mr. Pottinger had been a senior civil-rights decent in the Nixon and Ford administrations, but he moreover dabbled in investment banking and wrote excellent-selling medical thrillers. He become once per chance excellent known for having dated Gloria Steinem and Kathie Lee Gifford.

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Credit rating…Invoice Cunningham/The Contemporary York Times

Mr. Pottinger recalled that Mr. Edwards warned him about Kessler, announcing that he become once “endearing,” “spooky” and “likes to drink love a fish.”

After an initial discussion with Kessler in Washington, Mr. Pottinger briefed Mr. Boies — whose firm become once moreover active in representing accusers in the Epstein case — in regards to the sensational claims. He then invited Kessler to his Long island residence. Kessler admired a wall-mounted body containing a headless stuffed parrot; on TV, the Philadelphia Eagles had been mounting a comeback in opposition to the Washington Redskins. Mr. Pottinger poured Kessler a pitcher of WhistlePig whiskey, and the informant began to recount.

In his conversations with Mr. Pottinger and, later, Mr. Boies, Kessler talked about his movies featured a amount of extra special men who had been already linked to Mr. Epstein: Ehud Barak, the feeble Israeli prime minister; Alan Dershowitz, a constitutional attorney; Prince Andrew; three billionaires; and a prominent chief executive.

All seven men, or their representatives, told The Contemporary York Times they below no instances engaged in sexual inform on Mr. Epstein’s properties. The Times has no motive to mediate Kessler’s supposed video footage is precise.

In his residence, Mr. Pottinger offered Kessler with a signed reproduction of “The Boss,” his 2005 fresh. “One minute you’re bending the foundations,” blares the quilt of the paperback version. “The following minute you’re breaking the regulations.” On the title page, Mr. Pottinger wrote: “Here’s to the gigantic work you are to enact. Cheerful to be share of it.”

Mr. Pottinger moreover gave Kessler a draft contract to elevate him on as a consumer, allowing him to make utilize of a fraudulent establish. “For causes revealed to you, I engage to proceed with this engagement below the establish Patrick Kessler,” the settlement talked about.

Despite the enormities of the Epstein scandal, few of his accusers have gotten a sense of justice or resolution. Mr. Pottinger opinion Kessler’s recordsdata would per chance per chance commerce all the pieces. This unheard of man become once theatrical and liked his alcohol, but if there become once even a probability his claims had been correct, they had been price pursuing.

“Our prospects are talked about to be liars and prostitutes,” Mr. Pottinger later talked about in an interview with The Times, “and we have got any individual who says, ‘I will come up with secret photographic proof of abuse that can completely commerce your total material of your prepare and derive justice for these girls.’ And you watched that we wouldn’t strive to derive that?”

Mr. Pottinger and Mr. Boies have known one one more for years, a friendship forged on bike journeys in France and Italy. In lovely circles, Mr. Boies become once royalty: He become once the one who fought for presidential candidate Al Gore sooner than the Supreme Court, took on Microsoft in a landmark antitrust case, and helped build the correct for gays and lesbians to derive married in California.

But then Mr. Boies got concerned with the blood-testing originate-up Theranos. As the company become once being revealed as a fraud, he tried to bully whistle-blowers into no longer talking to a Wall Aspect freeway Journal reporter, and he become once criticized for that you would factor in conflicts of hobby when he joined the company’s board in 2015.

Two years later, Mr. Boies helped his longtime consumer Harvey Weinstein rent non-public investigators who intimidated sources and trailed reporters for The Times and The Contemporary Yorker — even supposing Mr. Boies’s firm had labored for The Times on other issues. (The Times fired his firm.)

By 2019, Mr. Boies, 78, become once representing a chain of Mr. Epstein’s alleged victims. They got his products and companies pro bono, and he got the probability to burnish his legacy. When Mr. Pottinger contacted him about Kessler, he become once intrigued.

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Credit rating…Designate Kauzlarich/Bloomberg

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Credit rating…Louis Lanzano/Bloomberg

On Sept. 9, Mr. Boies greeted Kessler at the offices of his regulations firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, in a incandescent unique skyscraper at Hudson Yards on Long island’s West Aspect. Kessler unfurled an very very most attention-grabbing making an try yarn, one he would embroider and alter in later weeks, that began with him rising up somewhere internal a three-hour radius of Washington. Kessler talked about he had been molested as a boy by a Bible school teacher and sought solace on the derive, where he fell in with a community of victims grew to become hackers, who passe their abilities to fight pedophilia.

Kessler claimed that a technology executive had offered him to Mr. Epstein, who in 2012 employed Kessler to situation up encrypted servers to take care of his wide digital archives. With Mr. Epstein unimaginative, Kessler boasted to the lawyers, he had unfettered access to the matter materials. He talked about the amount of movies become once overwhelming: more than a decade of spherical-the-clock footage from dozens of cameras.

Kessler displayed some pixelated video stills on his phone. In a single, a bearded man alongside with his mouth commence looks having intercourse with a bare girl. Kessler talked about the man become once Mr. Barak. In a single other, a man with black-framed glasses is seen shirtless with a lady on his lap, her breasts exposed. Kessler talked about it become once Mr. Dershowitz. He moreover talked about that some of the supposed movies regarded to were edited and cataloged for the reason of blackmail.

“This become once explosive files if correct, for loads and plenty of folk,” Mr. Boies talked about in an interview.

Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger had a protracted time of gorgeous trip and opinion to be themselves consultants at assessing witnesses’ credibility. While they couldn’t ensure that, they opinion Kessler become once doubtlessly legit.

Interior hours of the Hudson Yards meeting, Mr. Pottinger sent Kessler a chain of texts over the encrypted messaging app Signal.

Per excerpts seen by The Times, Mr. Pottinger and Kessler discussed a opinion to disseminate some of the informant’s materials — initiating with the supposed footage of Mr. Barak. The Israeli election become once barely a week away, and Mr. Barak become once fascinating High Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The purported photos of Mr. Barak will be in a position to sway the election — and secure a excessive trace. (“Total lie without a basis if truth be told,” Mr. Barak talked about when requested in regards to the existence of such movies.)

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“Are you able to evaluation your visual proof to make certain that some or all is unquestionably him? If that is the case, we are in a position to map it work,” Mr. Pottinger wrote.

Kessler talked about he would enact so. Mr. Pottinger sent a yellow smiley-face emoji with its tongue sticking out.

“Are you able to half your contact that would per chance per chance be shopping,” Kessler requested.

“Sheldon Adelson,” Mr. Pottinger answered.

Mr. Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate in Las Vegas, had founded one amongst Israel’s largest newspapers, and it become once an enthusiastic booster of Mr. Netanyahu. Mr. Pottinger wrote that he and Mr. Boies hoped to wing to Nevada to meet with Mr. Adelson to recount in regards to the photos.

“Raise out you mediate that adelson has the pull to insure it’ll effort his present for election?” Kessler requested the next morning.

Mr. Pottinger reassured him. “There’s not any such thing as a question that Adelson has the capability to air the reality about EB if he desires to,” he talked about, the utilize of Mr. Barak’s initials. He talked about he planned to recount in regards to the matter with Mr. Boies that night.

Mr. Boies confirmed that they discussed sharing the characterize with Mr. Adelson but talked about the opinion become once below no instances done. Boaz Bismuth, the editor in chief of the newspaper, Israel Hayom, talked about its journalists had been approached by an Israeli offer who pitched them supposed photos of Mr. Barak, but that “we had been no longer .”

The men whom Kessler claimed to have on tape had been collectively price many billions. About a of their public family members groups had spent months making an try to tamp down media coverage of their connections to Mr. Epstein. Take into consideration how extra special they would well pay to map incriminating movies vanish.

It’s likely you’ll per chance presumably think that lawyers representing abuse victims would are making an try to publicly present such files to bolster their prospects’ claims. But that just isn’t any longer how the lovely enterprise consistently works. Generally, keeping things unruffled is correct enterprise.

One in every of the revelations of the #MeToo technology has been that victims’ lawyers in overall brokered secret deals in which alleged abusers paid to support their accusers unruffled and the allegations out of the public sphere. Attorneys can pocket no longer no longer up to a third of such settlements, profiting off a system that masks misconduct and permits men to abuse one more time.

Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger talked about in interviews that they had been having a peek into creating a charity to support victims of sexual abuse. It’d be bankrolled by non-public lovely settlements with the boys on the flicks.

Mr. Boies acknowledged that Kessler would per chance well receives a commission. “If we had been in a position to make utilize of this to support our victims recover money, we would take care of him generously,” he talked about in September. He talked about that his firm would no longer derive a lower of any settlements.

Such agreements would have made it much less likely that movies inspiring the boys grew to become public. “Generally what settlements are about is getting peace,” Mr. Boies talked about.

Mr. Pottinger told Kessler that the charity he become once putting in place will be called the Astria Basis — a establish he later talked about his lady friend came up with, in a nod to Astraea, the Greek goddess of innocence and justice. “We must always derive it funded by abusers,” Mr. Pottinger texted, noting in one other message that “these are properly off wrongdoers.”

Mr. Pottinger requested Kessler to originate compiling incriminating materials on a particular community of fellows.

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“I’m come sooner than you,” Kessler spoke back. He talked about he had requested his team of fellow hackers to search the recordsdata for the three billionaires, the C.E.O. and Prince Andrew.

“Yes, that’s precisely the excellent technique to enact this,” Mr. Pottinger talked about. “Movies pointless to tell, but email visitors, too.”

“I name it our sizzling list,” he added.

In mid-September, Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger invited reporters from The Times to the Boies Schiller offices to meet Kessler. The specter of a necessary news organization writing in regards to the flicks — and confirming the existence of an intensive surveillance apparatus — would per chance per chance considerably fortify the lawyers’ leverage over the properly off men.

Before the session, Mr. Pottinger inspired Kessler to focal point on certain men, love Mr. Barak, whereas averting others. Referring to the reporters, he added, “Allow them to drink from a fountain as an replacement of a water hose. They and the readers will prepare that greater.”

The meeting took roar on a cloudy Saturday morning. After agreeing to leave their telephones and laptops out of doorways, the reporters entered a 20th-ground convention room. Kessler become once mountainous: more than 6 toes giant, pushing 300 kilos, balding, his temples speckled with grey. He told his yarn and offered photos that he talked about had been of Mr. Epstein, Mr. Barak and Mr. Dershowitz having intercourse with ladies.

Barely an hour after the session ended, the Times reporters got an email from Kessler: “Are you free?” He talked about he wanted to meet — by myself. “Affirm no person else.” That afternoon, they met at Gigantic Sichuan, an iconic Chinese language restaurant in Long island’s Chelsea neighborhood. The lunch lunge become once over, and the trio sat at a unruffled table in the lend a hand. A minute community of girls huddled nearby, talking Mandarin and snipping the ends off string beans.

Kessler complained that Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger had been more attracted to creating money than in exposing wrongdoers. He pulled out his phone, warned the reporters no longer to touch it, and showed more of what he had. There become once a color characterize of a bare-chested, grey-haired man with a runt smile. Kessler talked about it become once a billionaire. He moreover showed blurry, black-and-white photos of a sad-haired man receiving oral intercourse. He talked about it become once a prominent C.E.O.

Soup dumplings and Gui Zhou chicken arrived, and Kessler kept talking. He talked about he had chanced on financial ledgers on Mr. Epstein’s servers that showed he had wide quantities of Bitcoin and money in the Center East and Bangkok, and hundreds of millions of bucks’ price of gold, silver and diamonds. He offered no proof. Then one more time it’s overall for whistle-blowers to be erratic and slack to invent their proof, and The Times opinion it become once price investigating Kessler’s claims.

The dialog endured in a convention room at a Washington resort 5 days later, after a text commerce in which Kessler smartly-known his enthusiasm for Eastern whiskey. Both parties introduced bottles to the resort, and Kessler spent honest about eight hours downing glass after glass. He veered from telling tales in regards to the shaded web to professing like for “Puny Dwelling on the Prairie.” He asserted that he had proof Mr. Epstein had derived his wealth through illicit means. At one point, he showed what he talked about had been categorized C.I.A. documents.

Kessler talked about he had no idea who the ladies in the flicks had been or how the lawyers would per chance well walk about identifying them to act on their behalf. From his point of view, he talked about, it gave the influence love Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger had been plotting to make utilize of his footage to build aside a matter to of mountainous sums from billionaires. He talked about it regarded love blackmail — and that he would per chance per chance demonstrate it.

Became once Kessler’s yarn plausible? Did America’s excellent-connected sexual predator derive incriminating movies of extra special men?

Two ladies who hung out in Mr. Epstein’s properties talked about the reply become once certain. In an unpublished memoir, Virginia Giuffre, who accused Mr. Epstein of creating her a “intercourse slave,” wrote that she chanced on a room in his Contemporary York mansion where shows displayed precise-time surveillance footage. And Maria Farmer, an artist who accused Mr. Epstein of sexually assaulting her when she labored for him in the 1990s, talked about that Mr. Epstein once walked her during the mansion, pointing out pin-sized cameras that he talked about had been in every room.

“I talked about, ‘Are you recording all this?’” Ms. Farmer talked about in an interview. “He talked about, ‘Yes. We support it. We support all the pieces.’”

Proper through a 2005 search of Mr. Epstein’s Palm Seashore, Fla., property, the police chanced on two cameras hidden in clocks — one in the garage and the opposite next to his desk, in step with police experiences. But no other cameras had been chanced on.

If one of these surveillance system did exist, nothing that Kessler told or showed The Times proved that he had access to it. The photos he shared had been too grainy to set anybody’s identity. And plenty of alternative arrangement of his yarn failed to support up below scrutiny.

Kessler claimed to were an early investor in a North Carolina coffee company, whose decal become once affixed to his laptop. But its founder talked about no person matching Kessler’s description had ever been affiliated with the company. Kessler insisted that he invested in 2009, but the company wasn’t founded unless 2011.

The contents of Kessler’s supposed C.I.A. documents grew to become out to be with out problems findable the utilize of Google. At one point, Kessler talked about that one amongst his mates had been missing and become once chanced on unimaginative; later, Kessler talked about the man become once alive and in the southern United States. He talked about that his mother had died when he become once younger — and that he had no longer too long in the past given her a hug. A characterize he sent from what he talked about become once a Washington-topic sanatorium featured a particular blanket, but when The Times called native hospitals, they didn’t acknowledge the pattern.

After months of effort, The Times would per chance per chance no longer learn Kessler’s identity or relate any ingredient of his lend a hand yarn.

“I’m very in overall being purposefully inconsistent,” Kessler talked about, when pressed.

On the final Friday in September, Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger sat on a blue leather couch in the nook of a contributors-most efficient dining room at the Harvard Membership in Midtown Long island. Antlered animal heads and oil artwork hung from the shaded wooden partitions.

The lawyers had been there to map a take care of The Times. Drained of making an try forward to Kessler’s motherlode, Mr. Pottinger talked about they planned to send a team out of the country to download the matter materials from his servers. He talked about he had alerted the F.B.I. and a prosecutor in the United States criminal professional’s roar of enterprise in Long island.

Mr. Boies told an editor for The Times that they’ll be prepared to half all the pieces, on one situation: They’d have discretion over which men would per chance per chance honest be written about, and when. He explained that if compromising movies about explicit men grew to become public, that can also torpedo litigation or attempts to barter settlements. The Times editor didn’t commit.

Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger later talked about these plans had hinged on verifying the flicks’ authenticity and on having prospects with reputable lovely claims in opposition to the boys. Otherwise, lovely consultants talked about, it’ll also honest need crossed the freeway into extortion.

The meeting become once like a flash interrupted when Bob Weinstein, the brother of Harvey Weinstein, bounded up to the table and plopped onto the couch next to Mr. Boies. The two men spent several minutes talking, laughing and slapping one one more on the lend a hand.

While Mr. Boies and Mr. Weinstein chatted, Mr. Pottinger furtively displayed the black-and-white shot of a man in glasses having intercourse. Both lawyers talked about it regarded love Mr. Dershowitz.

One day in late September, Mr. Dershowitz’s secretary relayed a message: Any individual named Patrick Kessler wanted to recount to him about Mr. Boies.

The two lawyers had a protracted-working feud, and Mr. Dershowitz returned the name from his residence. He moreover recorded it. Kessler explained his Epstein yarn, and that he no longer trusted Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger.

“The roar is that they don’t are making an try to pass forward with any of these folk legally,” Kessler talked about. “They’re lovely attracted to making an try to resolve and have interaction a lower.”

“Who’re these these that you have got got on videotape?” Mr. Dershowitz requested.

“There’s barely plenty of folk,” Kessler talked about, naming just a few extra special men. He added, “There’s a protracted list of these that they need me to have that I don’t have.”

“Who?” Mr. Dershowitz requested. “Did they query about me?”

“Useless to tell they requested about you. You respect that, sir.”

“And you don’t have one thing on me, correct?”

“I enact no longer, no,” Kessler talked about.

“As a consequence of I below no instances, I below no instances had intercourse with anybody,” Mr. Dershowitz talked about. Later in the name, he added, “I’m completely orderly. I become once at Jeffrey’s home. I stayed there. But I didn’t have any intercourse with anybody.”

What become once the reason of Kessler’s phone name? Why did he repeat Mr. Dershowitz that he wasn’t on the supposed surveillance tapes, contradicting what he had talked about and showed to Mr. Boies, Mr. Pottinger and The Times? Did the name sound a runt bit rehearsed?

Mr. Dershowitz talked about that he didn’t know why Kessler contacted him, and that the phone name become once essentially the most straightforward time the two men ever spoke. When The Times showed him one amongst Kessler’s photos, in which a bespectacled man comparable to Mr. Dershowitz looks having intercourse, Mr. Dershowitz laughed and talked about the man wasn’t him. His wife, Carolyn Cohen, peeked at the characterize, too.

“You don’t support your glasses on whereas you happen to’re doing that,” she talked about.

In early October, Kessler talked about he become once prepared to invent the Epstein recordsdata. He told The Times that he had created reproduction variations of Mr. Epstein’s servers. He laid out detailed logistical plans for them to be shipped by boat to the United States and for one amongst his mates — a extremely short Icelandic man named Steven — to elevate them to The Times headquarters at 11 a.m. on Oct. 3.

Kessler warned that he become once erecting a maze of security systems. First, a Times employee would ought to make utilize of a certain thumb pressure to access a proprietary communications system. Then Kessler’s colleague would transmit a code to decrypt the recordsdata. If his instructions weren’t adopted precisely, Kessler talked about, the poke bet would self-destruct.

Consultants at The Times situation up a chain of “air-gapped” laptops — disconnected from the derive — in a windowless, padlocked meeting room. Reporters cleared their schedules to sift through hundreds of hours of surveillance footage.

On the morning of the scheduled offer, Kessler sent a chain of frantic texts. Catastrophe had struck. A hearth become once burning. The reproduction servers had been destroyed. One in every of his team contributors become once missing. He become once fleeing to Kyiv.

Two hours later, Kessler become once in contact with Mr. Pottinger and didn’t mention any emergency. Kessler talked about he hoped that the footage would support pry $1 billion in settlements out of their targets, and requested him to ingredient how the lawyers would per chance per chance extract the money. “Might per chance per chance moreover you build collectively a hypothetical topic,” Kessler wrote, no longer one thing “situation in stone but shut to what your pondering.”

Mr. Pottinger obliged — and walked into what regarded love a entice. He described two hypotheticals, both of which had been per what had been discussed with The Times at the Harvard Membership.

In a single, which he called a “not fresh mannequin” for lovely settlements, Mr. Pottinger talked about the money will be split amongst his prospects, the Astria Basis, Kessler and the lawyers, who would derive up to 40 p.c.

In the 2nd hypothetical, Mr. Pottinger wrote, the lawyers would come the videotaped men. The men would then rent the lawyers, guaranteeing that they would no longer derive sued, and “map a contribution to a nonprofit as share of the retainer.”

“No consumer is surely serious about this structure,” Mr. Pottinger talked about, noting that the association would must be “per and topic to principles of ethics.”

“Thank you very extra special,” Kessler spoke back.

Mr. Pottinger later talked about that the scenario would have concerned him representing a victim, settling a case and then representing the victim’s alleged abuser. He talked about it become once internal lovely boundaries. (He moreover talked about he had supposed to kind “No consumer lawsuit is surely concerned.”)

Such lovely preparations are no longer unheard-of. Attorneys representing a feeble Fox Files producer who had accused Invoice O’Reilly of sexual harassment reached a settlement in which her lawyers agreed to work for Mr. O’Reilly after the dispute. But lovely consultants in most cases take be conscious of such setups to be unethical because they’ll create conflicts between the interests of the lawyers and their fashioned prospects.

The lawyers held out hope of getting Kessler’s materials. But weeks handed, and nothing arrived. At one point, Mr. Pottinger volunteered to meet Kessler wherever — including Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.

“I mute mediate he is what he supposed to be,” Mr. Boies wrote in an email on Nov. 7. “I even must take be conscious of folk for my day job, and he gave the influence too staunch to be a fraudulent, and I very extra special need him to be precise.” He added, “I’m no longer unconscious of the hazard of making an try to mediate one thing too extra special.”

Ten days later, Mr. Boies arrived at The Times for an on-camera interview. It become once a shimmering, chilly Sunday, and Mr. Boies had lovely flown in from Ecuador, where he talked about he become once doing work for the finance ministry. Reporters wanted to impeach him it seems that if his and Mr. Pottinger’s habits with Kessler crossed ethical lines.

Would they’ve brokered secret settlements that buried proof of wrongdoing? Did the opinion of extracting mountainous sums from men in commerce for keeping intercourse tapes hidden meet the definition of extortion?

Mr. Boies talked about the reply to both questions become once no. He talked about he and Mr. Pottinger operated properly internal the regulations. They most efficient intended to pursue lovely action on behalf of their prospects — in other words, that they had been a protracted come from extortion. In spite of all the pieces, he talked about, he and Mr. Pottinger had below no instances authenticated any of the imagery or identified any of the supposed victims, extra special much less contacted any of the boys on the “sizzling list.”

Then The Times showed Mr. Boies some of the text exchanges between Mr. Pottinger and Kessler. Mr. Boies showed a flash of nettle and talked about it become once the necessary time he become once seeing them.

By the tip of the honest about four-hour interview, Mr. Boies had concluded that Kessler become once doubtlessly a con man: “I secure that he become once a fraudster who become once lovely making an try to situation things up.” And he argued that Kessler had baited Mr. Pottinger into writing things that regarded more harmful than they surely had been. He acknowledged that Mr. Pottinger had passe “free language” in some of his messages that risked creating the influence that the lawyers had been plotting to monetize proof of abuse.

Several days later, Mr. Boies returned for one other interview and become all but again serious of Mr. Pottinger, namely the hypothetical plans that he had described to Kessler. “Having regarded at all that stuff in context, I’d no longer have talked about that,” he talked about. How did Mr. Boies surely feel about Mr. Pottinger invoking his establish in messages to Kessler? “I don’t uncover it irresistible,” he talked about.

But Mr. Boies stopped making an try blaming Mr. Pottinger for the total mess. “I’m being cautious no longer to throw him below the bus more than I mediate is lovely,” he talked about. His longtime P.R. adviser, Dawn Schneider, who had been pushing for a more forceful denunciation, dropped her pen, threw up her fingers and buried her head in her hands.

In a separate interview, The Times requested Mr. Pottinger about his correspondence with Kessler. The attorney talked about that his messages shouldn’t be taken at face price because, if truth be told, he had been deceiving Kessler all alongside — “deceptive him intentionally in repeat to derive the servers.”

The draft retention settlement that Mr. Pottinger had given to Kessler in September become once unsigned and below no instances supposed to be honored, Mr. Pottinger talked about. And he below no instances intended to sell photos of Mr. Barak to Mr. Adelson. “I lovely pulled it out of my in the lend a hand of,” he talked about, describing it as an act to provoke Kessler.

As for the two hypotheticals in regards to the excellent technique to derive money out of the boys on the list, Mr. Pottinger talked about, he below no instances planned to enact what he fastidiously articulated. “I didn’t owe Patrick honesty about this,” he talked about.

Mr. Pottinger talked about that he had most efficient one feel sorry about — that “we did no longer derive the poke bet that this liar talked about he had.”

He added, “I’m building lovely cases right here. I’m making an try no longer to steal too extra special in shenanigans. I wish I didn’t, but this man become once very uncommon.”

Ronen Bergman contributed reporting. Susan Beachy contributed analysis.

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