A key Trump attorney — who was deeply involved in the Mar-a-Lago files defense and was one of the attorneys who testified in front of the grand jury — announced yesterday that his time as part of Donald Trump’s legal team is over.
Though it had long been rumored within Trump’s inner circle, powerful attorney Tim Parlatore officially announced on Tuesday that he will no longer represent Trump in any of the legal whirlwinds whipping Trump up and down the East Coast.
Parlatore was not just “any” Trump attorney.
No, he was charged with the perilous duty of organizing searches for additional classified documents last year at Trump’s properties in Bedminster New Jersey, Trump Tower in Manhattan, yet another search of Mar-a-Lago, an office in Palm Beach, and a Florida storage unit, a job not entrusted to Sydney Powell.
His statement acknowledged the unique character of the case — but he also took a parting shot at the Justice Department:
“It’s been an incredible honor to serve and work through interesting legal issues. My departure was a personal choice and does not reflect upon the case, as I believe strongly the (Justice Department) team is engaging in misconduct to pursue an investigation of conduct that is not criminal,” Parlatore said.
The grand jury will decide if there is enough evidence for a criminal indictment and, if so, a regular jury will decide if Trump’s conduct was criminal.
Few care what an attorney believes about his [former] client’s case.
Trump, however, likely does care, which may explain the shot at DOJ which is highly unusual and could be considered improper.
Parlatore was such a key member of the legal team that he was one of the attorneys called to testify before the grand jury as part of a hot dispute between Trump’s team and the Justice Department as the DOJ unsuccessfully attempted to hold Trump in contempt after he failed to hand over all classified documents — despite receiving a clear subpoena in May 2022.
The respected litigator testified for seven hours in December and, according to Salon, was not happy with DOJ’s questioning.
“They repeatedly tried to ask me about my conversations with President Trump, which is totally outside the scope of what I was there for,” he said.
A judge will determine what was inside or outside the scope of his testimony.
As noted by CNN, the timing is interesting in that the “high-profile departure comes as special counsel Jack Smith appears to be in the final stretch of [his] investigations.”
Smith is investigating both the matter involving the files and the matter involving the near overthrow of the government.
If the “final stretch of his investigations” leads to an indictment, Parlatore would have had to drop his representation anyway because an attorney cannot represent a client in any case in which he or she may be called as a witness.
Trump, however, seems to be doing all he can to remove the need for witnesses, making astonishing admissions during public speeches and, in particular, last week’s New Hampshire town hall on CNN.
As reported by The New York Daily News, Trump kneecapped his own attorneys, including Parlatore, by addressing the files and saying, “I didn’t make a secret of it. You know, the boxes were stationed outside the White House, people were taking pictures of it.”
Knowingly or unknowingly, Trump contradicted Parlatore who made the claim that the classified documents might have gotten inadvertently mixed up with other personal documents in a letter to Congress last month.
As The New York Times reports, Parlatore authored a unique letter to Congress last month, in which he claimed that a chaotic White House departure, in which “[aides] quickly packed everything into boxes and shipped them to Florida,” was to blame.
Parlatore then argued that “White House institutional processes” and not “intentional decisions by [Fmr] President Trump,” caused classified files to be intermixed with personal material.
Parlatore may have near passed out when Kaitlan Collins asked if Trump had shown the highly classified documents to anyone else.
Trump responded by saying, “Not really, not that I can think of.”
It would be interesting to know what Trump thinks it means to “really” show the files to someone else.
Regardless, as the saying goes, the ball is in Jack Smith and the DOJ’s “court.”
Then again, it has been since January 20, 2021, at 12:00 p.m.
It is May 2023. As CNN notes, one way or another, these investigations must soon come to a head.
But Parlatore’s experienced head will not be part of the team deciding how to respond.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @JasonMiciak