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Chris Kise, attorney for former President Donald Trump, leaves the federal court in West Palm Beach, Fla. on Sept. 1.
Chris Kise, attorney for former President Donald Trump, leaves the federal court in West Palm Beach, Fla. on Sept. 1.Eva Marie Uzcategui / Bloomberg via Getty Images, file

Trump hired a credible attorney, but he had to pay a lot upfront

We knew that Donald Trump finally found a good lawyer willing to represent him. We didn't know how much the Republican had to pay.


As Donald Trump’s legal troubles intensified, he was in the market for impressive legal representation. There was, however, an important problem: Respected defense attorneys didn’t want anything to do with the former president.

There were a variety of explanations for this — the Republican’s track record of ignoring legal advice, his habit of refusing to pay bills, the regret expressed by his former lawyers, etc. — but the bottom line remained the same: Trump wanted to hire the best, but the best kept saying no.

As recently as a month ago, The Washington Post reported that the former president was represented by a legal defense team that includes a Florida insurance lawyer who’s never had a federal case, a past general counsel for a parking-garage company, and a former host from a propagandistic cable outlet. It was, by any fair measure, rather embarrassing.

Two weeks later, however, Trump secured the services of Chris Kise, Florida’s former solicitor general, and a credible legal professional who’s argued successfully before the U.S. Supreme Court. I joked at the time that I hope Kise was paid up front.

I was kidding — but evidently, Kise was not. Politico reported:

Donald Trump’s outside spending arm has paid $3 million to cover attorney Chris Kise’s legal work representing the former president, according to three people familiar with the arrangement. The $3 million paid by Save America PAC is a significant sum, and comes as Trump faces a number of federal and state probes that will require substantial legal help.

Though Politico’s report has not been independently confirmed by MSNBC or NBC News, The Wall Street Journal published a related article, noting that Kise “secured an upfront payment of $3 million.”

This isn’t normal. Client retainers are routine, even the best lawyers do not typically seek multi-million-dollar payments in advance.

It’s almost as if Kise had reason to wonder whether Trump would actually pay his bills.

That said, if Politico’s reporting is accurate, the former president didn’t reach into his own pocket to pay the upfront invoice: The lawyer’s hefty fee is being paid by Trump’s Save America PAC — which, coincidentally, also appears to be drawing scrutiny from federal prosecutors.

Kise will reportedly represent the former president in both the Mar-a-Lago scandal and the Jan. 6 investigation. By all appearances, Trump needs the help.