Just hours after learning that he and a close aide had been charged with handling secret documents, two of Donald Trump‘s top attorneys abruptly left his defense team on Friday.
Jim Trusty and John Rowley, who led Trump’s legal team in Washington, D.C. for months and were frequently spotted at the federal courthouse, made it clear they would no longer defend the president in cases under investigation and prosecution by special counsel Jack Smith, who is looking into both the documents matter and Trump’s attempts to sway the 2020 election.
Shortly after the resignations, Trump himself made a statement stating that close adviser Walt Nauta had also been charged by federal authorities. The former president’s personal assistant, Nauta, a Navy veteran, was a constant during his post-White House years.
Trump stated that Todd Blanche, who he just hired to assist him in defending against unrelated felony charges brought by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg in April, would head his legal team in their place, along with a company that will be announced later. Blanche, who is anticipated to take on a more important, elevated job, has won the favor of Trump and his team.
Trump’s legal teams have changed in the past, but the recent changes strip him of some of his most seasoned attorneys at a crucial time in his legal battles. And it comes on the heels of the recent exit of a third attorney, Tim Parlatore, who assisted Trump in defending himself in the papers case. Tim Parlatore claimed internal strife, particularly with longtime Trump ally Boris Epshteyn, as the cause for his hasty departure.
Trump may find some solace in the fact that the action first appeared to be directed at U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, who oversaw his lawsuit last year following the FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago home. Cannon, a federal judge who was appointed by Trump, raised questions with her unconventional decisions that were ultimately overturned by an appeals court panel.