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A Conversation with Texas Attorney Tony McDonald
"I’m not entirely sure I understand what substack is," McDonald told me, before sending me unsolicited information about Substack
Last month, the Texas Young Republican Federation filed a petition for a temporary restraining order against the Young Republicans of Texas, and yesterday was the first court appearance in the case. This was supposed to be an article about that court case, but instead, it’s now an article about a Texas attorney named Tony McDonald, and the bizarre email exchange I had with him last night.
McDonald represents Chad Cohen, the President of the Young Republicans of Texas (YRT). Previously, McDonald has been the general counsel for various groups connected to Defend Texas Liberty, and represented QAnon adherent Jim Watkins in front of the J6 Committee.
Yesterday afternoon I sent McDonald an email, asking him to verify that he was representing Cohen, which he confirmed. But five minutes before McDonald was set to be in the Young Republicans of Texas Zoom hearing, I received the following email:
I looked up some of your past work. Obviously you seem very hostile to conservatives. As a big believer in the first amendment rights of independent journalists, I’ll spare you bluster about defamation but I will say that if you care to be truthful, you might consider the narrative you’re probably pushing with YRT. If you want to fact check yourself, I might be able to help with that. Again — depending on items that are public record.
For example if you’re trying to push some angle that YRT is “anti-semitic,” you might want to acknowledge that the org’s president is jewish (or at least I believe that’s the case…).
Hours later, I asked McDonald if he wanted to note a discrepancy with the audio, video, and screenshots displayed on my Substack about Chris Russo or the YRT, or if he felt The Nation had made any mistakes in editing my reporting on the Young Republicans.
“Duly noted regarding Cohen. I will be sure to add to this upcoming piece that Cohen's lawyer believes Cohen may be Jewish,” I assured him (please take note, reader).
But 45 minutes later, at 8:30pm his time, McDonald appeared to have some form of amnesia regarding, well, everything.
“Actually I think I was confused about that. Anyway - it doesn’t matter,” he wrote. “I have no idea what’s on your substack. I’m not entirely sure I understand what substack is.”
Worried about McDonald’s sudden memory loss, I decided to provide him with a refresher on his previous research into me.
Sorry - are you saying you were confused regarding Cohen's religious practices?
No worries at all, I can help.
On my Substack I broke that Chris Russo appears to have a Groyper alter ego known as Optics Respecter.
Also on Substack, I wrote about the various Nick Fuentes and Hitler fans who have been involved in the YRT so far.
For The Nation, I followed up a print piece about a group called Republicans for National Renewal (you're likely familiar with them through Chris Betts) with an online feature on the original splintering of TYRF and my experience attending YRNC in Dallas.
Please let me know if you find any of this confusing or have questions. If you prefer, I'm happy to chat on the phone or meet in person when I return to Texas on the first.
At 9:30 pm, McDonald followed up on Cohen. “Yes. He’s a Christian according to his Twitter bio but I believe he may be of Jewish heritage, hence the confusion. Regardless it doesn’t matter.”
At 10:30 pm, McDonald replied to his previous reply. “I’m surprised you’d be affiliated with a platform that fosters hate speech…” He helpfully included a link to an anti-censorship article written by the founders of Substack.
I assured McDonald that I don’t plan to put all of my work on the YRs on my own Substack. Around 11:30pm, I followed up with a question about his legal strategy for the YRT case.
“That question makes no sense,” McDonald informed me. “Also under no circumstance should a lawyer ever tell you what they’re ‘advising’ their client.”
Thankfully, I was able to clarify the question for him:
Oh, to make it more clear: much of your argument today rested on the fact that the Young Republicans of Texas is affiliated with the RPT, and the RPT predates the YRNF/TYRF. In the event the SREC votes to unaffiliate with your client, do you feel that delegitimization of the Young Republicans of Texas weakens your argument to the point that they should simply drop the use of the name?
I didn't go to lawyer school, so thank you for the info about lawyerly strategies! I do love to learn!
A few minutes shy of midnight his time, McDonald curtly informed me “their lawsuit has many other flaws as well.”
Anyway, here is Mr. Tony McDonald himself in action during yesterday’s hearing. You’ll notice that, when the Texas Young Republican Federation lawyers say the organization withdrew their affiliation with the Republican Party of Texas because party chair Matt Rinaldi associates with Nick Fuentes, McDonald and his co-counsel did not deny the claim about Rinaldi. Fascinating!
The YRs will be back in court December 1, but this time they will be in the court house, and not on Zoom. Personally, I am looking forward to flying back to Dallas to see the action in the flesh! 🥰
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