With big legal problems on the horizon in New York, Georgia (see above) and D.C., the last thing Donald Trump needs is a legal team in tatters. But that is what he has now. Timothy Parlatore, the latest person to depart Trump's legal team, on Saturday explained why he left as follows: "The real reason is because there are certain individuals that made defending the president much harder than it needed to be. In particular, there is one individual who works for him, Boris Epshteyn, who had really done everything he could to try to block us—to prevent us from doing what we could to defend the president." A Trump spokesman said Parlatore's statement was categorically false.
Parlatore has played a key role in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, including organizing searches of other Trump properties. Parlatore didn't say what his problem with Epshteyn is, but from what Parlatore was doing, it could be that Epshteyn was trying to block searches and Parlatore thought it was better that his team discovered any new documents, rather than having the FBI discover them later.
Parlatore did say that Epshteyn was blocking his access to Trump. He also said that Epshteyn was not honest with the lawyers and was preventing them from discussing legal strategy with the former president. It is tough enough to be one of Trump's lawyers, and doubly or triply so if some staffer is making it impossible to talk to the client. Parlatore also said that what Epshteyn was doing was not in his client's best interest. Parlatore further said that Epshteyn spent 18 months as a corporate lawyer and on that basis thought he knew everything better than the rest of the legal team.
From what Parlatore said, it seems like Epshteyn's job is to prevent Trump from hearing anything that he might not like and he is apparently good at it. Whether this will be good for Trump in the long run is an open question, but we are doubtful. If Trump is indicted in Georgia and D.C. he is going to need a top-notch unified team of lawyers. Getting good people to work for him is hard enough, and having them leave due to infighting within the legal team is hardly a plus.
With Parlatore gone, two other lawyers, James Trusty and John Rowley, have taken the lead in dealing with Jack Smith. With one or more federal indictments probably near, changing the leadership of the legal team at the last minute is not going to be helpful. And for once, the problem can't be blamed directly on Trump. (V)