At face value, Donald Trump’s legal defense team in the Russia scandal is shrinking in ways that should worry the president’s supporters. Marc Kasowitz? Demoted. John Dowd? Resigned. Joe diGenova? Out. Victoria Toensing? Gone.
But there’s another way of looking at Trump’s volatile legal predicament. Perhaps the problem isn’t that the president has too few lawyers to turn to; maybe the problem is that he has too many.
Politico ran an interesting report overnight on the president’s relationship with Alan Dershowitz, the retired Harvard law professor who makes a lot of television appearances, and whose judgment Trump apparently likes. The article added something I haven’t seen elsewhere:
Trump’s freewheeling conversations about the Mueller probe have become a source of concern for his lawyers, who have warned him not to discuss the investigation with anybody but his own counsel. And Dershowitz isn’t the only one Trump is soliciting advice from, sources said. The president has been asking for legal advice, one person familiar with the conversations said, from virtually any attorney who calls him up, even after being warned of the danger he is putting himself in.
The president has continued to discuss the case with longtime attorney Marc Kasowitz, who originally led his legal team but stepped down last summer, as well as with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, a former Westchester County prosecutor and longtime Trump friend.
An unnamed person familiar with the case told Politico, “Trump should not be having any conversations about [the investigation] with anyone who is not officially representing him.”
That’s true, but what Trump should do and what Trump does are often very different things.
But these latest revelations seem a little worse. If Trump has been seeking legal advice from “virtually any attorney who calls him up, even after being warned of the danger he is putting himself in,” it means the president has been having some provocative conversations about his legal jeopardy with people who are under no professional obligation to keep those chats private.
Is it any wonder top-tier attorneys want no part of Trump’s defense team? Can you even imagine a worse client?