Donald Trump continues to be as appealing as a steaming hot bowl of sewage sludge to Florida attorneys who might represent him in the criminal indictment levied in the special counsel’s documents case.
Trump is a notoriously terrible client, even now that he’s paying his lawyers with monopoly money printed by donors to his PACs. The former president appears to have bumbled into dozens of felonies by ignoring his lawyers and heeding the counsel of Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton, who advised him to keep the documents and tell the National Archives to get bent. Three lawyers have quit the team in the past month alone, and at least two others have been ordered to testify to the grand jury about attorney-client materials under the crime-fraud exception. And Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman look to be in serious danger of losing their licenses to practice law after rendering legal services to the then-president.
Add in Florida’s stringent bar requirements and it’s was nigh impossible for Trump to find new counsel admitted in the Southern District of Florida in the four days since he announced that Jim Trusty and John Rowley were leaving and that Todd Blanche and “a firm to be named later” would be retained “for purposes of fighting the Greatest Witch Hunt of all time.”
The Guardian reports that the search is made even more difficult by the classified nature of the evidence, which means Trump’s attorneys will need to be at least eligible for a security clearance:
Among the Florida lawyers who turned down Trump was Howard Srebnick, who had expressed an interest in representing the former president at trial as early as last week in part due to the high fees involved, but ultimately was not allowed to after conferring with his law partners, the person said.
The other prominent lawyer who declined to work with Trump was David Markus, who recently defended the Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum against charges that he lied to the FBI and funnelled campaign contributions into his personal accounts, the person said.
Trump and his team have interviewed the corruption attorney Benedict Kuehne, who was indicted in 2008 for money laundering before the charges were dropped, the person said. But he has his own baggage as he faces disbarment for contempt of court in a recent civil suit he lost.
The other interviews are understood to have been with William Barzee, as well as Bruce Zimet, the former chief assistant US attorney in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
Former Florida Solicitor General Chris Kise entered an appearance this morning and chaperoned Blanche this afternoon as their client pled not guilty to all charges. This is not Kise’s first involvement in the documents case. He was originally brought in to handle the challenge to the warrant before Judge Cannon in 2022, but the Washington Post reports that he was quickly cast aside after he advised Trump to search all his properties for government documents and hand them over to the DOJ post haste. This account has been contradicted by The Guardian, but in any event, Kise was almost immediately shunted up to New York to play second fiddle to Alina Habba in the NYAG’s civil suit.
The Washington Post reports that Kise will not stay on the case and is leading the search for the next attorney to take a multi-million dollar upfront payment to throw his reputation on the pyre.
And in the meantime, Rolling Stone confirms that, like Tim Parlatore, Trusty and Rowley quit because of conflicts with Trump’s fixer Boris Epshteyn (who is himself represented by Blanche).
There’s also this gem buried in the copy:
Multiple well-known Florida lawyers have recently been approached, though several promptly refused the chance to rep Trump in this particular case. In the past few days, some people close to the former president tried to entice Alan Dershowitz — the celebrity lawyer who defended then-President Trump for his first impeachment — to officially join or at least consult for the Blanche-led team.
Sadly, Dersh declined. Just as well, since his recent sanctions in Arizona would probably make him ineligible for pro hac vice admission anyway.
Inside the Implosion of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Legal Team [Rolling Stone]
Trump finds no new lawyers for court appearance in Mar-a-Lago case [Guardian]
Trump scrambles to find lawyer before first federal court appearance [WaPo]