Last week, CNN reported that former Florida Solicitor General Chris Kise had been “sidelined” from Donald Trump’s legal team handling the fight over documents seized by the FBI from his Mar-a-Lago country club. The demotion came just two weeks after Trump lured the attorney away from Foley & Lardner with a $3 million retainer — paid for by his Save America PAC, natch.
Team Trump’s hiring of Kise was greeted with relief by Trump’s supporters, glad to have an adult in the room to guide the former president through the treacherous shoals attorneys like Evan Corcoran and Christina Bobb had steered him into with their equivocation, first to the National Archives, then in response to a grand jury subpoena, and then finally a personal plea by the head of the Justice Department’s Counterintelligence Division about what documents Trump had taken with him from the White House.
Late Friday night, the Washington Post published a ticktock of how the non-adults in the room managed to shove Kise aside, both on the documents case and the January 6 inquiry, where Corcoran appeared with attorneys Tim Parlatore and John Rowley last week to fight a reported grand jury subpoena for testimony of former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, who refused to claim executive privilege absent an official assertion by Trump himself.
The Post reports that Kise wanted to “turn down the temperature with the Justice Department,” in an attempt to head off criminal prosecution by agreeing to cooperate and get all the documents back to the Archives and assure the government that there’d been no leakage. But Trump’s other, less experienced lawyers, particularly his close advisor Boris Epshteyn, want to stick to the pugilistic approach which got them into this mess in the first place.
Note that Epshteyn, who recently had his phone seized by the FBI, is facing multiple investigations over electoral interference in both DC and Atlanta. In the lead up to the January 6 Capitol Riot, he was a frequent emailer with the rest of the Trumpland lawyers where they discussed the fake electors plot and admitted between themselves that it was probably illegal. There is reason that Herschmann told Corcoran and Rowley, “I certainly am not relying on any legal analysis from either of you or Boris who — to be clear — I think is an idiot.” And that reason is that Boris Epshteyn is, well, an idiot.
But Trump has always prized loyalty over expertise, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s keeping Corcoran and Bobb around despite the likelihood that they will almost certainly be witnesses in any criminal case against him and may face their own legal troubles thanks to their written and verbal attestations that Trump had turned over all classified documents.
Corcoran is reportedly unfazed, but Bobb, who has toggled back and forth between posts in right-wing media and Trumpland (or sometimes both at once) appears to be ever so slightly flipping her shit. The Post reports that she’s hired former prosecutor John Lauro to represent her and “has made it known to Trump allies that she is willing to cooperate and be interviewed by the Justice Department, people familiar with the situation said.”
If Bobb is talking, she’ll have plenty to say of interest to the DOJ. Not only is she up to her eyeballs in the document investigation, but she was there next to Rudy Giuliani and the rest of the Big Lie goons plotting to overturn the election. And she seems at best — at least from Donald Trump’s perspective — ambivalent about any privilege she may have to assert.
Despite giving numerous interviews in the days immediately after the FBI search in which she was identified as a lawyer for Trump, Bobb told a fellow RSBN anchor during a Sept. 23 broadcast that she was not acting as a Trump attorney while serving as custodian of the records in responding to the subpoena. The difference is important: The Justice Department team investigating the handling of the documents would face few hurdles to compel her to testify if she had not been serving as Trump’s lawyer at the time.
“I think people were a little bit confused,” Bobb told her fellow anchor. “I am on President Trump’s legal team. I do work for him on election issues. I was never on the legal team handling this case, just to be clear on that. Which is why I came in as the custodian of records — because I wasn’t on that team.”
Yes, well, that’s a risk you take when you hire a right-wing TV star to be your attorney. Sometimes things get a little bit muddy.
Trump’s legal team divided over how to handle Mar-a-Lago case [WaPo]
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.
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