Most Read

Politics

Lawyers & Legal Experts Say Representing President Trump Would Damage Reputations

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Lawyers and legal experts are warning that attorneys willing to represent President Donald Trump could harm their careers, because of the president's habits of ignoring the advice of legal counsel and issuing false statements.


As Trump's legal entanglements continue to mount, his defense team faces potentially more shakeups following the resignation of John Dowd, his lead counsel in the Russia investigation.

Dowd quit over disagreements between himself and the president over whether Trump should agree to an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Trump has stated that he is willing to speak to Mueller, which goes against the against the advise of his former lead counsel. Trump's lawyers have stated that they fear the president is likely to perjure himself in a sit-down with Mueller.

"It is difficult for one to maintain one's appearance of being an ethical lawyer while trying to represent Donald Trump," said Dan Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham University. "Any lawyer who has observed those episodes is going to see that joining this team at this stage runs a risk to their professional lives."

Several high-profile attorneys have turned down the opportunity to defend the president, and for good reason. The president's propensity for obfuscating the truth could cause additional legal troubles for Trump, and attorneys who choose to represent him risk losing the professional credibility, or worse.

"Lawyers and legal experts say it's not hard to see why," The Huffington Post wrote on Monday. "Lawyers could place themselves at great risk by working for a client with a reputation for impulsiveness and an inability to heed advice, who tends to undercut legal strategy with haphazard public statements and an itchy Twitter finger and who, as a result, may not be worth the publicity and likely future business associated with representing a president of the United States."

Doubts about the tenure of White House lawyer Ty Cobb, the only lawyer with experience handling federal investigations left on Trump's legal team are also circulating throughout Washington—if recent departures are any indication, he may be on his way out.

Vanity Fair's Abigal Tracy pointed out on Monday that Trump's legal team appears to be disintegrating, creating the real possibility that the President of the United States may end up having to fight the biggest legal battle in White House history on his own.

"I don't think you have seen anything like this," said former Obama general counsel Bob Bauer. "Like so much else around Trump, [the shake-up] is marked by confusion, a lack of consistency, and an apparent reflection of the president's uncontrolled impulses."

Former D.C Prosecutor and conspiracy theorist Joseph diGenova withdrew his name from consideration on Sunday, leaving attorney Jay Sekulow to manage multiple lawsuits simultaneously.

"As far as I can tell, Ty Cobb is the only attorney left on the Trump team with experience handling federal criminal investigations," said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor. "The team is thinner than you might expect for perhaps the most important investigation of our lifetime."

"No one is asking to join Trump's legal team."

Former George W. Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson publicly said "no" when he was asked to join Trump's legal team. He said that Trump's legal battles and the overall environment inside his administration was too chaotic, and "not good for anything."

"I think everybody would agree this is turmoil, chaos, confusion. It's not good for anything," Olson said Monday in an interview on MSNBC. "We always believe that there should be an orderly process, and of course government is not clean or orderly ever, but this seems to be beyond normal."

Former federal prosecutor Tom Buchanan and Republican defense attorney Dan Webb of D.C,'s prestigious law firm Winston & Strawn, also declined offers to join the White House legal team.

"They were unable to take on the representation due to business conflicts. However they consider the opportunity to represent the President to be the highest honor and they sincerely regret that they cannot do so," the firm said in a statement to reporters. "They wish the president the best and believe he has excellent representation in Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow."

It may be time to rethink the unthinkable—that a sitting U.S. president may have to rely on a public defender to go up against Mueller's armada of some of the most brilliant and experiences legal minds in the country. What a time to be alive.