After getting slapped with a warning from the Department of Justice over the leaking of private and personal documents, lawyers for disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried have fired back and said that it's fine, actually.
In a Sunday filing to the judge presiding over his federal case, SBF's attorneys Mark Cohen and Christian Everdell insisted that it wasn't actually bad for their client to leak his ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison's diary entries to the New York Times even though the DOJ claimed the opposite in its request for a gag order.
"The Government has taken a set of circumstances where nothing improper or impermissible occurred and has unfairly recast the events as a nefarious attempt by Mr. Bankman-Fried to 'discredit' Caroline Ellison and 'taint' the jury pool," his lawyers wrote. "But Mr. Bankman-Fried did nothing wrong."
SBF was exercising his First Amendment rights, the filing claims, when he gave the NYT Ellison's writings. And anyway, the NYT story "was favorable to Ms. Ellison and negative towards Mr. Bankman-Fried," the lawyers wrote.
He Admitted It
Along with the assertion that it's not nefarious to share someone else's innermost thoughts with the media, the lawyers also admit in their filing that SBF was, in fact, the person who leaked the diary entries to the NYT, which did not same its source.
"A reporter contacted Mr. Bankman-Fried and asked if he wanted to respond to an article about Ms. Ellison that had been in process for months," the filing continues. "Mr. Bankman-Fried spoke to the reporter and shared certain documents that he had obtained prior to his arrest, and that were not produced in discovery, in an effort to give his side of the story about topics that have already been reported in the media."
To their end, Cohen and Everdell did say that if presiding Judge Lewis Kaplin issues a gag order, their client will comply. They also asked that the same order be given to John Ray III, the former Enron exec who began running FTX during its bankruptcy proceedings last year and who has, as the lawyers note, "routinely made disparaging statements" while the government "stood silent."
It was within the "hyper-toxic media environment" in the aftermath of the FTX crash that SBF leaked the documents, the lawyers wrote — an environment that was, they claim, made worse by Ray's repeated attacks.
Claims of toxicity aside, the clapback does make for an interesting update in this seemingly never-ending scandal that has revealed way more than anyone would like to know about the participants' sex lives, thoughts on monogamy, and mental health issues.
And the lawyers did get one thing right: in the NYT piece about Ellison's diary, at least, she does come off a lot more likable than SBF.