As you’ve probably heard by now, Donald Trump is in a whole bunch of legal trouble. While said trouble includes numerous criminal investigations and civil lawsuits, probably the most pressing issue at the moment involves his decision to take classified documents from the U.S. government, which resulted in the FBI raiding Mar-a-Lago last week, a search they got permission to perform by convincing a federal judge they had probable cause to believe the ex-president had violated the Espionage Act, among other things. Since all of this could conceivably culminate in Trump going to prison, he obviously needs legal representation. But unfortunately for the former guy, no respectable lawyer wants to touch him with a 1,000-foot pole. No, really: It’s like he has monkeypox, early-era COVID, and the plague all in one.
The Washington Post reports the thoroughly embarrassing but entirely understandable news that “Trump and close aides have spent the eight days since the FBI searched his Florida home rushing to assemble a team of respected defense lawyers,” but, in the words of one person familiar with the matter, “everyone is saying no.” While representing a former president of the United States would likely be a high point of most people’s careers, it obviously becomes less appealing when that former POTUS is Donald Trump, who, in addition to reportedly stashing documents related to nuclear weapons in his basement, is an extremely annoying person to have to deal with. As one lawyer recounted to the Post, Trump’s legal team once urged the then president “against tweeting about the Mueller probe, only to find he’d tweeted about it before they got to the end of the West Wing driveway.” Others said he was “nearly impossible to represent and that it would be unclear if they would ever get paid.” (Trump, you may have heard, has a long history of allegedly not paying his bills, which one of his former attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, reportedly knows something about.) While the Trump of the ’80s would’ve been able to round up a legal team despite his reputation for being an asshole, it seems that is no longer the case.
“In olden days, he would tell firms representing him was a benefit because they could advertise off it. Today it’s not the same,” Michael Cohen, Trump’s former “fixer,” told the Post. “He’s also a very difficult client in that he’s always pushing the envelope, he rarely listens to sound legal advice, and he wants you to do things that are not appropriate, ethically or legally.” For his second impeachment trial, the one regarding his decision to incite an insurrection, his representation included a personal injury lawyer who specializes, among other things, in dog bites, and had sued the president the previous year. (Luckily for Trump, Senate Republicans were obviously going to acquit him, no questions asked, anyway, and he could have been represented by a first-year law student and it wouldn’t have mattered.)
Of course, some people are willing to be associated with the guy—they’re just not exactly the legal profession’s cream of the crop. Per the Post:
Longtime confidants and advisers of Trump have grown extremely worried about Trump’s current stable of lawyers, noting that most of them have little to no experience in cases of this type, according to two people familiar with the internal discussions.… People familiar with the search for legal help said the effort includes Susie Wiles, a close adviser to Trump, and attorney Christina Bobb, who was present at Mar-a-Lago during the search and signed for the list of documents taken. Former campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn is taking a prominent role, and former White House aide Kash Patel is advising informally. Patel is raising money for a “legal offense” fund by selling merchandise such as tank tops and beanies emblazoned with the logo “K$H.”
Bobb was previously a host on the far-right, pro-Trump television network One America News.… Bobb’s prior legal experience at the federal level consists mainly of a handful of trademark infringement cases on behalf of CrossFit during a stint at a San Diego law firm. She did not respond to requests for comment. Trump’s other lawyer currently based in Florida is Lindsey Halligan, whose practice, according to a professional biography, focuses on insurance claims at residential and commercial properties. She was admitted to the Florida bar in 2014. A search of federal court records found no filings under her name. She did not respond to requests for comment. Trump is also being represented in the records dispute by Alina Habba, who leads a three-attorney firm with an office near Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, NJ. Her professional experience includes serving as general counsel to a parking garage company.
On Tuesday, Habba demanded the Justice Department reveal who told them Trump still had classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, which is, obviously, not how any of this works. Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that one of Trump’s lawyers signed a written statement in June that all classified material at Mar-a-Lago had been returned to the government. That obviously turned out to be a lie, which, the Post notes, could make the lawyer who signed the statement either a potential target of the criminal investigation for lying, or a witness who’d been lied to by Trump.