Two of former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers who had represented him in the classified documents investigation resigned from his legal team the day after he was indicted, according to a statement they released on Friday.
The lawyers, James Trusty and John Rowley, left Mr. Trump’s defense team in a state of chaos and confusion as he faced the most serious legal threat of his career: a 37-count indictment filed in Miami accusing him of illegally retaining documents after he left office about some of the country’s most sensitive national security secrets and of engaging in a conspiracy with an aide to obstruct the government’s repeated efforts to retrieve them.
Mr. Trump announced the departure of Mr. Trusty and Mr. Rowley in a post on Friday on his social media platform, Truth Social. He said he would be represented by a new lawyer, Todd Blanche.
“I want to thank Jim Trusty and John Rowley for their work, but they were up against a very dishonest, corrupt, evil, and ‘sick’ group of people, the likes of which has not been seen before,” the former president wrote. “We will be announcing additional lawyers in the coming days.”
In a joint statement issued shortly after Mr. Trump’s message was posted, Mr. Trusty and Mr. Rowley wrote that they had tendered their resignations. “It has been an honor to have spent the last year defending him,” they wrote, “and we know he will be vindicated.”
Their departures came a month after the resignation of a third lawyer on Mr. Trump’s team, Timothy Parlatore. Days after he stepped back from representing the former president, Mr. Parlatore appeared on CNN to complain about how another lawyer close to Mr. Trump, Boris Epshteyn, had created conflict in the legal team.
Mr. Blanche is set to accompany Mr. Trump to his arraignment in Miami on Tuesday. It is unclear whether other lawyers will also be with them. Mr. Trump is expected to start interviewing new lawyers in Florida on Monday, according to a person with knowledge of the plans who was not authorized to discuss them.
As recently as Thursday night, less than two hours after the former president’s legal team was briefed on his indictment, Mr. Trusty was on CNN defending Mr. Trump and denouncing the case against him.
Mr. Trusty and Mr. Rowley were two of the three lawyers who attended a meeting with Justice Department officials — including the special counsel, Jack Smith — three days before the indictment.
Two people familiar with the matter said that Mr. Trusty and Mr. Rowley had repeatedly complained about working with Mr. Epshteyn. One of the people with direct knowledge of the events said that was partly the reason for the departures. The person said Mr. Trusty and Mr. Rowley were still on good terms with Mr. Trump.
But in the past, several Trump lawyers have complained that Mr. Epshteyn delivered only positive news to the former president and avoided bringing him bad news.
Mr. Blanche, who is also representing Mr. Trump in the case against him in a Manhattan state court, represents both the former president and Mr. Epshteyn.
In their statement, Mr. Trusty and Mr. Rowley said the case’s shift to Florida made it “a logical moment for us to step aside and let others carry the cases through to completion.”
They added, “We have no plans to hold media appearances that address our withdrawals or any other confidential communications we’ve had with the president or his legal team.”
Mr. Parlatore, by contrast, directly blamed Mr. Epshteyn on CNN after departing the team.
An aide to Mr. Trump, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, insisted that the suggestion the departures were over internal dynamics was “ludicrous.”
Appearing on CNN on Friday after the indictment was unsealed, Mr. Parlatore said of the departure of Mr. Rowley and Mr. Trusty: “Look, it’s surprising, and yet at the same time unsurprising. It’s a difficult situation to be in.” He made clear as he spoke that he was referring to working with Mr. Epshteyn.
Mr. Parlatore also acknowledged the gravity of several of the charges in the indictment, particularly the allegations that the documents Mr. Trump kept could harm national security.
“That is some serious stuff,” Mr. Parlatore said.
The lawyers’ departures came at a moment of serious legal vulnerability for Mr. Trump and underscored how much his many legal teams over the years have been rife with factionalism and turnover.
When Mr. Trump was investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, over possible conspiracy between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russian officials, his legal team shuffled a few times.
The second time he was impeached — in January 2021, for inciting his supporters at the Capitol as he sought to stay in power after the 2020 election — Mr. Trump again struggled to attract lawyers. Once he did, a number of them fought with one another.
Maggie Haberman is a senior political correspondent and the author of “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.” She was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on President Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia. @maggieNYT
Alan Feuer covers extremism and political violence. He joined The Times in 1999. @alanfeuer
Source: Read Full Article
Republicans should dominate midterms but must be on guard against Democrats' gerrymandering
Discussions swirl on Trump’s removal after chaos at Capitol
‘You’ve got no choice!’ BBC’s Adam Fleming has Sharma in stitches with forced Cop26 quiz
Miranda Devine: Why Democrats demonize good Republicans, too
Trump impeachment trial to open with sense of urgency, speed