What a Tangled Web

The New York Times headline, Trump’s Legal Team Is Enmeshed in a Tangle of Possible Conflicts, is a gross understatement – and that was before the indictment in Georgia.

According to the article, “Former President Donald J. Trump’s growing cast of lawyers is marked by a web of overlapping interests encompassing witnesses, co-defendants and potential targets.”

Evan Corcoran, a lawyer who accompanied former President Donald J. Trump to court this week for his arraignment on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 election, has given crucial evidence in Mr. Trump’s other federal case – the one accusing him of illegally hoarding classified documents.

Another lawyer close to Mr. Trump, Boris Epshteyn, sat for an interview with prosecutors this spring and could be one of the former president’s co-conspirators in the election tampering case.

And Mr. Epshteyn’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, is defending Mr. Trump against both the documents and election case indictments.   . . .

Some of the lawyers involved in the cases are representing both charged defendants and uncharged witnesses.  At least one could eventually become a defendant, and another could end up as a witness in one case and Mr. Trump’s defender in a different one.

All of that sits atop another thorny fact:  Many of the lawyers are being paid by Save America PAC, Mr. Trump’s political action committee, which has itself been under government scrutiny for months.  Some of the witnesses those lawyers represent work for the Trump Organization, Mr. Trump’s company, but their legal defense has not been arranged by the company, but rather by Mr. Trump’s own legal team, a person with knowledge of the matter said.  . . .

[Prosecutors] asked Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who is overseeing the documents case, to conduct a hearing “regarding potential conflicts” arising from the complex client list of one lawyer, Stanley Woodward Jr.

Mr. Woodward represents Walt Nauta, Mr. Trump’s personal aide and one of his co-defendants in the documents case.  Mr. Woodward has also worked for at least three witnesses in the broader inquiry who could be called to testify at trial.

You can imagine an entire professional responsibility exam based on these fact patterns.

And this is just the beginning.  Being a party in so many civil and criminal cases, he is likely to need even more attorneys.  This could be a challenge considering the finite pool of lawyers who would be competent, acceptable to Mr. Trump, and willing to represent him.  The indictment for mishandling classified documents poses an additional challenge as attorneys need to have security clearances.

Mr. Trump’s problems aren’t limited to his lawyers’ conflicts of interest.  An article in Politico states, “As the former president faces at least five trial dates over the next year, his actions in some cases are being used against him in others.”  In another understatement, the article notes:

Trump’s situation also poses particular challenges for his lawyers, who have an outspoken client who is a candidate for federal office.  When a client is facing multiple legal challenges, “you have to be conscious of what the client might say that could rebound to the client’s detriment down the road,” said Jonathan Entin, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University. … “This is really a complicated situation for the lawyer because the lawyer can’t just say, ‘Be quiet for the next six months to a year.’”

Especially to Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Trump’s political action committee spent $40 million in the first half of the year on legal fees to defend him.  That’s a lotta billable hours by a lotta lawyers.  He’s gonna need more – and ones that don’t aggravate his already challenging problems of getting legal representation.

The NYT reports, “Spiraling Legal Bills Threaten Trump With a Cash Crunch.  The former president’s political orbit, including the super PAC that backs him, is already spending more than it is taking in – an unusual trajectory this far out from an election.”

The Hill published an article with relevant documents and profiles, in case you’re keeping score – “Tracking Trump’s Tangled Web of Legal Troubles.”

Stay tuned.

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