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For America’s best lawyers, Trump is a leper
Dick Polman

I’ve had some good yuks lately – starting with quack doc Mehlmet Oz screwing up his Man of the People Act in the “Wegner’s” supermarket, and lightweight Jared Kushner getting reviewed for his new book: “Kushner looks like a mannequin, and he writes like one...Kushner’s fealty to Trump remains absolute. Reading this book reminded me of watching a cat lick a dog’s eye goo.”

But for sheer legs-in-the-air hilarity, I nominate this new Washington Post report:

“Donald Trump and close aides have spent the eight days since the FBI searched his Florida home rushing to assemble a team of respected defense lawyers. But the answer they keep hearing is ‘no.’... The former president’s current legal team includes a Florida insurance lawyer who’s never had a federal case, a past general counsel for a parking-garage company and a former host at far-right One America News.”

It’s the August dog days, we’re all on vacation or wish we were, so I promise not to tax your sun-splashed cognitive faculties: Care to guess why Trump on the cusp of indictment is having trouble hiring crackerjack criminal lawyers, only duh best lawyers?

To answer that, it helps to remember that in the last five years, Trump has cycled through lawyers as if they were Kleenex. In fairness, it’s hard to represent a client who sues without a scintilla of evidence (his “stolen election” won-lost record was 1-61);

Five of Trump’s lawyers resigned in tandem on the eve of the second impeachment trial, and one of his former lawyers (Michael Cohen) went to prison. Two others (Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis) have been sucked into the Georgia grand jury’s probe of Trump’s coup bid, and another ex-Trump lawyer (Emmet Flood) is now defending a key member of the Mike Pence team.

Ty Cobb, another ex-Trump lawyer, recently had this to say: “(Trump) is a disaster for the Republican party...The Big Lie, and the related violence, election interference and other perceived misconduct, was and is an affront to this nation and its first principles. It has permanently soiled the history pages and deepened the abyss that divides our country.”

In short, as veteran Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer David Rudovsky told me back in 2018, “We’re talking about the client from hell.”

That jibes with John Dowd’s assessment. He was the top Trump lawyer during the Robert Mueller probe, but quit in March of 2018 because (according to Bob Woodward) he had concluded that Trump was “a f–king liar.” That also jibes with Mark Corallo’s assessment. He was the spokesman for Trump’s legal team, but quit in 2017 because, in the reported words of a close friend, he could no longer tolerate his job “on a moral and professional level.”

Three key characteristics of this client from hell: He doesn’t listen to professional advice (one former lawyer advised Trump to stay off Twitter, whereupon Trump tweeted anew before the lawyer was back in his car), he wants his lawyers to amplify his whopping lies (Rule 3.1 of the American Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct stipulates that lawyers shall not bring an action that has no grounding in law or fact); and (last but surely not least), and he often doesn’t pay them.

Trump himself has reportedly whined about his representation. According to Bob Woodward’s 2018 book “Fear,” he ranted in the White House: “I’ve got a bunch of lawyers who are not aggressive, who are weak, who don’t have my best interests in mind, who aren’t loyal. It’s just a disaster. I can’t find a good lawyer.”

“Who aren’t loyal” is the key phrase. He demanded then, and still demands, lawyers who swear personal fealty, even at the expense of the profession’s code of conduct and their own reputations. Consider, for instance, the unnamed Trump lawyer in Mar-a-Lago who, in a signed letter two months ago, falsely told the Justice Department that all stolen classified materials had been returned.

At this stage in our endless psychodrama, what top quality criminal lawyers are eager to sign up for Trump, at great risk of burning themselves down? Four long years ago, Rudovsky told me that “for any lawyer, this relationship is so fraught with difficulty, a nightmare. You just know it’s going to end in a bad way.” It already has, uncountable times.

To tweak John Kerry’s famous Vietnam-era quote: How do you ask a lawyer to be the last to die for a mistake?

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at Email him at