WASHINGTON – Donald Trump spent much of his career deploying high-powered lawyers to do his bidding. Now he is having trouble finding top-tier help when he might need it most.
Since losing the November election to President Joe Biden, Trump has been hemorrhaging attorneys. Established firms backed away from his baseless claims of election fraud. Those he did retain made elementary errors in cases that were quickly rejected as meritless. His personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was ridiculed for his performance before a federal judge during one election-related case.
His legal options contesting the election exhausted, Trump still needed a team to represent him in his historic second impeachment trial on a charge that he incited the deadly Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot. A team of South Carolina lawyers was retained, then backed out, so Trump was left with a lawyer from Pennsylvania and another from Alabama, giving them only days to prepare.
High-profile clients are typically strong pulls for ambitious lawyers, but Trump’s rocky relationships with his attorneys show the limits of taking on cases with dubious merits. His allegations of fraud were rejected by courts, his attorney general and other prominent Republicans.
Trump's impeachment lawyers started off their defense by misspelling the words “United States” in their brief. And their initial presentation during the trial was panned by even some of Trump's most ardent supporters.
Trump fumed from his perch in Mar-a-Lago, and some in his circle said he should fire his lawyers. But he may not have many more options. And his legal peril is growing, most recently with a new criminal investigation into his election conduct in Georgia.
Trump has often used litigation as a weapon. He and his namesake company have been involved in scores of lawsuits, from million-dollar real estate conflicts to personal defamation lawsuits and fights with casino patrons. He also threatens legal action regularly.
But aside from a few loyal lawyers like Giuliani and a small, high-powered team representing him for New York-related probes, it's not clear what heavy hitters are left to represent him.