Saturday, January 30, 2021

Breaking news: Trump's legal team quits just days before impeachment trial! -- UPDATED

 January 30, 2021

Just days before his impeachment trial is set to begin, Donald Trump's entire new legal team has withdrawn from his representation.  According to one report, they left because Trump “wanted the attorneys to argue there was mass election fraud and it was stolen from him rather than focus on proposed arguments about constitutionality.”  Whether the lawyers objected to this specifically because they thought the arguments are frivolous is not clear, but, evidently, they felt the disagreement was important enough to withdraw from representation.  

Given that so many other lawyers and law firms withdrew from representing Trump in litigation over the elections after it was clear that the cases had no merit, the news of a new group of lawyers withdrawing is not entirely surprising.  

Trump now has a little over a week to find a new legal team to build a defense.  One report suggested Trump thinks the case is "simple" and that he could represent himself, which apparently is something that Steve Bannon is suggesting he should do.  Others have denied that Trump is considering representing himself. Stay tuned!

For more on the story, including quotes from the reporters who interviewed the original sources, and from the lawyers involved go to Law & Crime, PoliticoYahoo! News and the New York Times.

Interestingly, it is not clear who disclosed that the reason for withdrawing was a disagreement over what to argue as part of the defense strategy.  If it was the lawyers, it raises a question as to whether they have violated their duty of confidentiality which depends on whether they had consent to disclose the information.  Lawyers do not have to explain their reason to withdraw, unless they are seeking permission from the court to do so (which is not the case here), and even in that case, lawyers should not disclose more information than reasonably necessary.  

But when it comes to Trump, some lawyers want to distance themselves from the client so much that they suddenly feel the need to explain themselves on the way out.  For another example of this, remember the lawyer who filed a motion to withdraw stating in the motion that Trump had committed a crime.  See here.

UPDATE, Sunday 1/31/21:  Trump has announced a new team of two attorneys who will represent him in the impeachment trial.  For more, see Courthouse News, Law & CrimeNPR, the New York Times and Politico.

UPDATE, 2/1/21:  Above the Law has a comment on the withdrawal of the original team here.

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