White House lawyer James Burnham had an unusual client list last year, including Donald Trump, Mitt Romney and a Saudi national spending his life in prison for plotting a terrorist attack in the U.S.
In a financial disclosure form released by the White House, Burnham — now senior associate counsel in the White House — declared that one of the sources of his compensation at the law firm of Jones Day was "legal services" the firm performed for Khalid Aldawsari of Marion, Ill. Filers are required to declare any source of compensation over $5,000.
Aldawsari was admitted to the U.S. on a student visa in 2008 and arrested in 2011 for attempting to assemble bomb-making materials. The FBI charged he had “acquired or taken a substantial step toward acquiring most of the ingredients and equipment necessary to construct an (improvised explosive devise), and he had conducted online research of several potential U.S. targets.”
Aldawsari had also “described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal."
He is serving a life sentence at a medium security prison in Marion.
It is not clear what services Jones Day provided for Aldawsari, though there was apparently an online campaign last year to free him from prison.
Burnham's disclosure form reports $810,000 in salary and bonuses from Jones Day last year, and, as required by law, lists the client accounts he worked on.
Under the disclosure rules, “The filer discloses payments both from employers and from any clients to whom the filer personally provided services. The filer discloses a source even if the source made its payment to the filer's employer and not to the filer.”
Other clients Burnham served in 2016 include former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, the Republican National Committee and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign committee, which is still winding down operations from his 2012 presidential bid. The Democratic research firm American Bridge first noticed Aldawsari's name on the client list.
A host of lawyers in President Trump's White House came from Jones Day, including White House Counsel Don McGahn, who was general counsel to the Trump campaign last year.
The White House declined to comment on this story.