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Trump May Have a Legal Strategy: Fire the Lawyers

Most indictees think of only one thing: How to get an acquittal at the trial. Donald Trump is different from all other indictees. He doesn't seem to care much about being acquitted, at least not in federal trials. His strategy is to delay the trials until after the election and then delay the appeals until after Jan. 20, 2025. Also, win the election. Then he can pardon himself in the federal cases. The state cases are on the back burner now (and see below).

One way to try to delay the federal cases is to have his lawyers make motions. It hardly matters that all of them are swatted down by the judge and the lawyers probably charge Trump $10K per motion. But maybe one will stick. But if that doesn't work, he might go nuclear. What would nuclear look like? In Henry VI, Part 2, Wm. Shakespeare wrote: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Trump doesn't dare do that because murder is a state crime and presidents can't self-pardon state crimes.

Next best is fire all the lawyers. It's a desperate move but desperate times call for desperate moves. Trump treats lawyers like packets of ketchup: You squeeze out every drop, then throw them away. Suppose he fires his entire legal team just before the start of the first criminal trial, currently scheduled for March 4, 2024. Then what happens? Would the judge refuse to let him fire the lawyers? Would she say: "I will give you a choice. I can appoint a public defender to handle your case or you can represent yourself. What Trump wants is a l-o-o-o-o-ng delay, while he finds new lawyers and gets them up to speed. Given his toxic reputation, finding any member of the D.C. bar who is willing to represent him will be tough. Given his propensity to stiff his lawyers, any lawyer willing to take the case is likely to (1) demand $5 million up front and (2) a clause in the contract stating: "The advance payment is not refundable under any conditions, including, but not limited to, gross negligence or even gross malfeasance on the part of the lawyer." The latter part is for a defense when Trump sues later to get his money back. It will be an interesting negotiation.

But if the judge allows Trump to switch lawyers, no matter how much time she gives him to find new ones, he will complain it is not enough. It would be a unique argument, but he could tell her: "You have no idea what a terrible client I am. I don't listen to my lawyers and I don't pay them. Believe me, it will take me months to find anyone desperate enough to take me on. Maybe in June I can look for a new law school graduate who has a huge student debt and is willing to work for me. Oh, and we have to wait until my new lawyer has passed the bar exam." Of course, if the judge gives him, say 90 days to find a new lawyer (or lawyers), on day 89 he will dump them and repeat the process.

What he might also do is trash his current team on the way out the door. That way if the judge tried to force the lawyers to continue on the case, they would protest loudly saying how can they work for a client who has said they are dumber than a box of rocks and probably flunked third grade, let alone law school. If Chutkan forced his old lawyers to continue working for him, Trump could later appeal on the grounds of the Sixth Amendment (the right to have a lawyer of your choosing).

Chutkan doesn't have to take this though. She also has a nuclear option. She can revoke Trump's bail and send him to prison until the trial starts. That will definitely focus his attention on getting a new lawyer fast. He might even make up with the dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks crew. It's like playing chess where the white pieces are made of dynamite and the black pieces are matches. (V)

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