Less than a month after he was brought on to represent Donald Trump in court proceedings related to the classified documents found during the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, attorney Chris Kise — a former Florida solicitor general considered to be the most experienced member of the ex-president’s legal team — is said to have been sidelined from the case, two sources familiar with the move have told CNN. Questions about Kise’s ability to properly represent Trump in the case involving classified documents have arisen since, as a registered foreign agent of the government of Venezuela, the Florida attorney may have a difficult time obtaining the necessary security clearances to view the underlying top secret documents that are at the center of the case.
Chris Kise, the newest addition to the Trump legal team, has been sidelined from the Mar-a-Lago investigation less than a month after being brought on, I’m told. He’s still on the team and may focus on other investigations, but isn’t leading on docs case. https://t.co/3KnNZI6QwI
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) September 27, 2022
Kise was initially brought onto the Trump legal team last month after it was reported that the former president was having difficulty finding lawyers who were willing to represent him.
Trump’s reputation for not paying his legal bills certainly didn’t help his attractiveness as a client, which likely lead to Kise’s insistence on being paid a $3 million retainer upfront before he would agree to take the case — a fee that was reportedly paid out of Trump’s bounty of donations from his hordes of MAGA marks.
According to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, who broke the news on Twitter:
“Kise is expected to remain on Trump’s legal team but is not leading the work related to the federal government’s investigation into how the former President handled 11,000 documents seized from his Florida home in August following a lengthy effort by the government to retrieve them. The reason for the shift in Kise’s role remains unclear and he may instead focus his efforts on the other investigations Trump is facing, which range from his business practices to the January 6 insurrection.”
Trump responded to the news through his spokesperson Taylor Budowich:
“Chris Kise’s role as an important member of President Trump’s legal team remains unchanged, and any suggestion otherwise is untrue.”
Whatever the current disposition of Trump’s legal armada, the defense that his attorneys have presented so far has been marked by numerous missteps including a false declaration that Trump had already delivered all the classified documents in his possession and the failure to initially claim executive privilege over the materials.
With Judge Raymond Dearie — the special master that Trump insisted review the documents in question — delivering one defeat for the hoarding former president after another, it remains to be seen whether any lawyer whatsoever can save Trump from prosecution with so much evidence existing of the violations of the laws cited in the FBI’s search warrant.
Still, it looks like that $3 million that Trump had to give Kise as a retainer was not exactly money well spent.
Original reporting by Kaitlan Collins at CNN.