How Trump lawyer Christina Bobb, an ex-OAN host, took spotlight in Mar-a-Lago case
Christina Bobb's role as Trump's attorney was elevated after the FBI searched the former president's Mar-a-Lago estate, but she's been a relative fixture in Trump political circles.
- Bobb was spotted in the Trump campaign "war room" the day before the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack.
- Before Trump, she ran for Congress represented soldiers in military court.
- The House committee investigating the Capitol attack subpoenaed Bobb.
One of former President Donald Trump's most prominent defenders amid the Justice Department’s investigation into classified documents stored at his Florida estate is a fixture in Trump political circles who has played a bit role in a number of Trump's efforts to hold onto power after he lost the 2020 election.
Christina Bobb, 39, spent years in the public eye as an on-air host for conservative news network One America News Network where she made no secret of her support of Trump. But she only burst onto mainstream news channels in recent weeks after the FBI executed its search warrant on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.
Described by at least one former colleague as a “ride or die” Trump loyalist, Bobb has found herself at the center of a maelstrom around the FBI’s repeated efforts to get back classified materials from Mar-a-Lago. She’s appeared on conservative news channels, criticizing the raid as “politically motivated,” and provided statements to mainstream press on prior efforts by the FBI to obtain the documents.
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The affair elevated Bobb’s role as one of Trump’s attorneys and as a person tightly tied to the investigation. She not only signed the receipt of the search warrant earlier this month, but The New York Times reported that Bobb, as custodian of the documents, signed a June statement asserting that, to the best of her knowledge, all classified material had been provided to the government. The statement was drafted by another Trump attorney.
A filing late Tuesday implicated Trump's team, including his lawyers, alleging that government records were concealed in an effort to obstruct the FBI's investigation. The DOJ noted that the custodian of records had signed a "sworn certification" on June 3. A redacted copy of the certification, in response to the DOJ's subpoena for records, states that "any and all responsive documents" have been provided, and "no copy, written notation, or reproduction of any kind was retained."
If true, the revelation could open Bobb to potential legal exposure, though it’s as likely that she would serve as a witness – and be forced to testify against Trump – should any charges be brought against the former president, said Norm Eisen, former Obama administration ethics czar and counsel in the first Trump impeachment. Her signed June assertion may also, at least partially, support the underlying probable cause for the obstruction of justice allegation in the search warrant, he said.
Eisen said he believes Bobb failed to adequately represent Trump when the warrant was first issued and should have immediately sought a hearing with a judge while the FBI was on the premises, not called in other attorneys who would ask for a special master two weeks later.
“No real lawyer would’ve had their client wait two weeks for this,” Eisen said, noting that she should have quickly worked to ensure investigators didn't get their hands on potentially privileged material from the get-go. “It’s emblematic of how Trump has been forced to scrape the bottom of the barrel” in terms of legal representation, because, among other reasons, his attorneys tend to get in legal trouble or see their reputations damaged.
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Aside from her legal representation work for Trump, Bobb has been a prominent figure in Trump-related circles. She was in the Trump campaign’s so-called “war room” on Jan. 6, 2021, and was subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Capitol attack.
The day after the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, Bobb told OAN viewers that as a former president, Trump had the right to classify or declassify information – though legal experts dispute the simplicity of this claim – and to determine what is or isn’t a presidential record. In her words: “This is all within Donald Trump’s purview to make the decisions himself. So there’s no crime here.”
'Declassified':Trump claims Mar-a-Lago documents were 'declassified.' Why experts reject that argument.
Before Trump, Bobb ran for Congress and represented soldiers in military court
Before Bobb emerged as Trump’s lawyer in the Justice Department investigation of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, she represented soldiers in military court, ran for Congress and served a stint in Trump’s administration, including at the Department of Homeland Security.
Bobb, who was admitted to the California State Bar in 2008, practiced law for at least several years, according to a DHS biography. Bobb did not provide a comment for this story.
The Michigan-born Bobb was the youngest of two girls and went to high school in Phoenix where she graduated early to attend the University of Arizona. She was known for being hard working as a goalie on the soccer field and went on to play for the university, according to a university website. While initially interested in a career as a translator, she would go on to become an attorney, working first for the military, then for the private sector, and finally, for Trump, according to her biography and the university site.
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Bobb served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a judge advocate and provided legal advice to military commanders in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan, according to her DHS biography. While stationed in Quantico, Virginia, Bobb served as defense counsel for marines and sailors in courts-martial and administrative hearings. She also spent several years working civil litigation cases at the firm Higgs, Fletcher, & Mack LLP in San Diego.
In 2014, she ran for Congress in the San Diego area as an independent with a barebones website. The Federal Election Commission said in an email that Bobb filed no paperwork with it, which is required if a candidate raises or spends more than $5,000 in campaign activity. She came in last among the eight candidates in the blanket primary, with 929 votes or 1% of voters.
On an archived version of her 2014 campaign website, under the subhead “The American Dream,” Bobb wrote: “I love the United States of America. As a second generation American and proud United States Marine Corps veteran, my goal is to see the American Dream become a tangible reality again. My commitment as a Congressional Candidate is to operate honestly motivated by truth and genuine commitment to the American people. As a non-partisan candidate, my goal is to work effectively with both parties, while being controlled by neither party. Only through authentic bi-partisanship can the best of both parties be represented.”
Privileged documents in Mar-a-Lago documents:DOJ says some privileged documents identified in screening of seized Mar-a-Lago documents
Bobb held jobs in the Trump administration
In 2018, after a stint clerking for the Office of Legal Counsel for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Bobb started as executive secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, a high-profile role where she was essentially responsible for coordinating the flow of information to and from the secretary. But she clashed with officials inside DHS, in what were viewed as repeated efforts to exceed her mandate by weighing in on issues such as counterterrorism, said Miles Taylor, a vocal Trump critic who served as Bobb’s former boss and deputy chief of staff and chief of staff for DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during the time period.
Bobb was also clearly “mega MAGA,” which made some DHS officials worry about whether she could be trusted with information about senior DHS officials who deliberated over how to handle the president and his erratic behavior, as well as with certain types of sensitive classified information – to the point that they actively tried to go around her if they could, said Taylor, who wrote an "Anonymous" 2018 New York Times op-ed critical of Trump.
Confidential human sources:Trump search affidavit reveals confidential source documents found at Mar-a-Lago, raising new alarms
Bobb would eventually move from a role at DHS headquarters to a position inside one of its agencies, Customs and Border Patrol, where she would serve as executive director of policy.
Bobb’s emergence as a Trump booster made sense to many ex DHS officials, according to the former DHS colleague, and lots of them hoped she would tone down after being specifically named in the defamation lawsuit filed last summer against the owner of OAN Network by Dominion Voting Systems for spreading misinformation during the 2020 election.
According to the voting tech company’s federal complaint, Bobb joined a colleague from OAN in “falsely accusing Dominion of rigging the election and stealing it from Trump” while “simultaneously and covertly moonlighting as a Trump campaign advisor.”
Isabela Velasco, a spokeswoman for Dominion, declined to comment.
Read the affidavit:Read the (redacted) affidavit that supported the search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort
Charles Herring, who founded the media company that hosts the conservative news service, asked for written questions and then never replied.
As the Dominion lawsuit went on, Bobb told viewers she was leaving the network in March to work for Trump’s Save America PAC receiving $52,633 in pay from the PAC between March 31 and July 31, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Federal Election Commission records. The political action committee formed to fight debunked claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential contest has also been accused by the House Jan. 6 committee of misleading donors.
Still, Taylor said Bobb “was an immensely well-meaning person” and took up efforts to support sexual assault victims and try to get Congress to tighten laws against child sex exploitation and sex trafficking.
Bobb and her sister, a survivor of sexual assault, advocated for changes that were ultimately encompassed in a bipartisan bill passed in February that ended forced arbitration in cases involving sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Here's what was taken taken out of affidavit:Redacted affidavit justifying Trump Mar-a-Lago search released. Here's what was taken out.
OAN, Jan. 6 and the Mar-a-Lago search
After Bobb left the government, she began writing a book called “Finding Rhythm,” which she described to a former colleague as being about “finding that sweet spot in your life where everything just clicks and it gets really good” – a compilation of everything she learned over her career on “how to live your best life,” the same former colleague said.
She would get hired in June 2020 at OAN, first covering the White House and then hosting the weekend political talk show “Weekly Briefing with Christina Bobb.” Clips from her OAN show include titles with a falsehood about Trump winning the election, “Democrats pulling mafia tactics” and claims Biden stole the election.
Bobb volunteered for the Trump legal team after the 2020 election while also working as a network reporter, during which time she would have to keep her roles separated and run stories she developed past Trump staff to ensure they “didn’t violate any of our rules or whatever,” Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said in a deposition last year.
She also started, along with an OAN colleague, a nonprofit called Voices & Votes, which worked to “protect free speech from cancel culture” and to ensure that “American voices are heard where it matters most, the ballot box,” according to an archived version of its website. The group raised $605,000 to help fund a partisan 2020 election review in Arizona that ultimately failed to uncover any election fraud. At the time, Bobb told OAN viewers to donate to her nonprofit if they were interested in supporting a “new initiative to invite state senators from states to view the Arizona audit and ask questions” so they could replicate it in their states.
Biden said he received no advance notice:Biden says he had ‘zero' advance notice of FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate
Bobb was seen in a Jan. 5, 2021 photograph inside a Willard Intercontinental Hotel room with Giuliani and John Eastman – another Trump attorney central to the ex-president’s plan to overturn the 2020 election – that served as a “war room” for the Trump campaign’s legal team.
She was subpoenaed earlier this year by the House Jan. 6 committee.
The committee wrote in its letter to Bobb last March that its investigation revealed “credible evidence” that she publicly promoted claims that the November 2020 election was stolen, and “participated in attempts to disrupt or delay the certification of the election results based on those claims.”
It also noted that she was reportedly “involved in efforts to draft an executive order for President Trump that would have directed federal agencies to seize voting machines in numerous contested states to collect evidence of purported election fraud” and was present in the “war room” on Jan. 6, 2021. Committee spokesman Tim Mulvey declined to provide more details.
May letter offers more details:Biden says he had ‘zero' advance notice of FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate
For now, Bobb has receded somewhat after the initial days of news related to the search warrant. Eisen said that investigators will undoubtedly be examining what Bobb knew – and whether she was misled – when she signed the June statement that all classified material was returned to the government. He notes that even for lawyers with many decades of experience, Trump is a difficult client because he doesn’t listen.
“He’s like a neutron bomb for law degrees,” Eisen said.
Contributed: Erin Mansfield