Sunday, March 25, 2018


An earlier version of this post said that Trump had a "small army of lawyers... charged with defending him in the Russia investigation." In fact, while Trump does have a great many personal and business lawyers to represent him in the dozens of pending lawsuits against him as a private citizen, he appears to be down to only one lawyer, Jay Sekulow, representing him in the Russia matter.

Sekulow is not a criminal defense lawyer and had been acting chiefly as a spokesperson for Trump's actual criminal defense team.

What did Donald Trump do today?

He angrily insisted that he could get any defense lawyer he wanted for the Russia probe.

In a pair of tweets sent early this morning from Mar-a-Lago, Trump had his increasingly complicated legal situation on his mind:
Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case...don’t believe the Fake News narrative that it is hard to find a lawyer who wants to take this on. Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted. Problem is that a new lawyer or law firm will take months to get up to speed (if for no other reason than they can bill more), which is unfair to our great country - and I am very happy with my existing team.
To put it mildly, there is a lot going on here--but the heart of it is that Trump seems to be reacting to the fact that news outlets reported on his inability to hire the husband and wife legal team of Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing to help defend him in the Russia investigation. Officially, the two declined the invitation because of conflicts of interest with other clients.

In fact, this is entirely plausible, although Trump--who had only known DiGenova from his appearances on Fox News--was reportedly underwhelmed by their first in-person meeting.

What's less clear is why Trump sought to call attention to his ever-more-precarious legal position with respect to the Mueller investigation. He has already lost four of his most visible legal representatives. His consigliere Michael Cohen is personally implicated in matters that Mueller is investigation. Another longtime personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, was forced to resign after he made bizarre threats to an internet commenter. Marc Corallo abruptly resigned in July, apparently over concerns that Trump was actively committing obstruction of justice in his involvement in the cover-up of Donald Trump Jr.'s Russia meeting. And last week, John Dowd, Trump's lead lawyer, resigned as Trump seemed increasingly unwilling or unable to heed his advice.

Broadly speaking, though, Trump is correct: while he may not be able to get the lawyers he most needs (like impeachment expert Emmet Flood, or former Solicitor General Ted Olson), or keep them once he has them, there are more than a million lawyers in the US, and no shortage of those willing to take a call from the White House. Whether they can successfully collect on the bills they submit to Trump, though, is a different matter.

So what?