As far as Donald Trump is concerned, “many lawyers and top law firms” want to represent him in the Russia case. Given what we now know, that’s demonstrably untrue.
CNN reported earlier today that yet another white-collar lawyer has turned down the opportunity to serve on the president’s private legal defense team, “citing an unidentified conflict.”
People close to Trump contacted New York attorney Steven Molo, a former prosecutor who specializes in white collar defense and court room litigation, in recent weeks following the departure of attorney John Dowd from Trump’s personal legal team.
Molo is only the latest attorney to receive an invitation to help Trump during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 campaign and any possible dealings with Russia.
It’s worth noting that the Molo news hasn’t been independently confirmed by NBC News or other major outlets.
That said, if the CNN report is accurate, what’s the new total of lawyers who’ve turned Trump down? I’m glad you asked.
Here’s the list I’ve maintained in recent weeks (in no particular order):
1. Ted Olson
2. Dan Webb
3. Tom Buchanan
4. Emmet Flood
7. Paul Clement
8. Mark Filip
10. Reid Weingarten
12. Steven Molo
This comes against the backdrop of our coverage from last month, when the head of Trump’s legal teamresigned, and the president ended up rejecting the two newest additions to his defense team shortly after meeting them for the first time.
The team now appears to be led by one guy, Jay Sekulow, who has literally no background in this kind of legal work, who’s best known for leading a legal group created by a radical televangelist, and who oversees a highly dubious fundraising operation – all while hosting a right-wing radio show in which he routinely discusses the case.
In fairness to the president, he’s had far less trouble hiring legal counsel to help with some of his other scandals. Attorney Joanna Hendon, for example, recently began work on defending Trump’s interests in the wake of the FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s office and hotel room.
But when it comes to the Russia scandal, top-shelf lawyers appear to be staying away, Trump’s boasts notwithstanding.