Former Trump Lawyer Describes Conflict Inside Legal Team

A conflict within former President Donald J. Trump’s legal team erupted into public view Saturday when one of his former lawyers went on television to attack one of his current lawyers, who has been the focus of the ire of others on the team. .

The former attorney, Timothy Parlatore, withdrew last week from representing Trump in the special counsel’s investigations into his handling of classified documents and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. But Mr. Parlatore did not explain the reasons for his departure in that time, saying only that it was not related to the merits of the investigations.

In an appearance on CNN on Saturday, Parlatore revealed that his departure had been prompted by irreconcilable differences with Boris Epshteyn, another lawyer who has been working as an in-house counsel for the former president, retaining lawyers and coordinating his efforts to defend Mr. Trump.

Parlatore described how Epshteyn had prevented himself and other lawyers from giving information to Trump, leaving the former president’s legal team at a disadvantage when dealing with the Justice Department, which is examining Trump’s handling of classified documents after he left. . office and his efforts to stay in office after losing the 2020 election.

“As I said at the time, it had nothing to do with the case itself or the client,” Parlatore said. “There are certain people who made defending the president much more difficult than it needed to be.”

He named Mr. Epshteyn in particular.

“He did everything he could to try to block us,” Parlatore said, adding that it’s “difficult enough to fight the DOJ,” but that when colleagues are “trying to undermine you, to block you,” that made it “so I can’t do what I need to do as a lawyer.”

“Ultimately it wasn’t in the best interest of the client,” he said, adding that Mr Epshteyn “wasn’t very honest with us or with the client” on certain things.

In particular, Parlatore noted that Epshteyn tried to prevent the team from conducting additional searches at Trump properties after the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club and residence in Florida. and discovered more than 100 additional classified documents.

Parlatore also poked fun at Epshteyn’s limited legal experience, saying he spent 18 months as a corporate lawyer and based on that experience, “he knows more than all of us.”

Still, Parlatore left open the possibility of returning to Trump’s legal team if certain changes were made.

“If lawyers are allowed to be lawyers without the obstruction of people like Boris Epshteyn,” he said, “I would love to come back.”

A Trump spokesperson said: “Mr. Parlatore is no longer a member of the legal team. His statements about the current members of the legal team are unfounded and categorically false.

Before making his television appearance, Parlatore spoke to Trump, telling him that Epshteyn’s handling of the defense team increased the risk that federal prosecutors would press charges, according to two people familiar with the matter.

That warning came after an earlier attempt at intervention by several of Trump’s lawyers with their client over Epshteyn’s involvement. The lawyers cited what they described as Epshteyn’s penchant for delivering good news despite grim circumstances, as well as a bottleneck he had created by talking to Trump about the cases.

News of the dissent among lawyers representing Trump came at an especially sensitive time, just as Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith appears to be wrapping up his extensive grand jury investigations and nearing a decision on whether to press charges. against Mr. Trump in the documents and cases of election interference.

With Parlatore’s departure, two other lawyers, James Trusty and John Rowley, have taken the lead in representing Trump in the special counsel investigations.

Rowley declined to comment on Parlatore’s comments on Saturday. Trusty did not respond to efforts to reach him for comment.

Trump also faces a variety of other legal problems, including his impeachment in a secret money case in New York and a pending investigation in Georgia into election interference.

The former president also appeared on CNN on May 10, refusing to give a clear answer at a town hall event when asked if he had ever shown classified documents to anyone after leaving office.

Parlatore tried to clarify that issue on Saturday, saying that Trump’s legal team had “no evidence to suggest that he showed classified documents to anyone.”

He added that he did not believe charges would ultimately be filed in the document investigation.