Trump’s new $3m retainer lawyer for Mar-a-Lago case already being sidelined, report says

The lawyer formerly worked for Republican Governor Ron DeSantis

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 27 September 2022 22:14 BST
Related video: Trump’s lawyer compares FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago overdue library book’

Donald Trump's newest lawyer has reportedly already been sidelined from the Mar-a-Lago document investigation, according to sources familiar with the probe.

CNN spoke with a pair of unnamed sources familiar with the investigation and reports that Chris Kise, the newest addition to the former president's legal team, has been shifted away from the Mar-a-Lago probe just a month after singing on to help Mr Trump.

According to the report, the reason for his shift is unclear, but Mr Kise will be focusing on other investigations involving Mr Trump.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced earlier this month that her office was asking for charges to be brought against Mr Trump and his adult children as part of an investigation into the Trump Organisation, and the Capitol riot investigation is still ongoing.

Mr Kise was hired for $3m by Mr Trump's outside spending entity, the Save America PAC, according to Politico. His retainer was paid up front, an unusual move, though one potentially resulting from Mr Trump's reputation for not paying his legal fees.

The attorney is the former solicitor general of Florida and was hired at a time when Mr Trump was struggling to find lawyers to take on the Mar-a-Lago case.

Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich addressed the issue with CNN, saying: “Chris Kise’s role as an important member of President Trump’s legal team remains unchanged, and any suggestion otherwise is untrue.”

Unlike some of Mr Trump's other attorneys — like former OAN host Christina Bobb or Alina Habb, who, prior to joining the former president's team, was a general counsel for a parking garage — Mr Kise is regarded as a serious white collar attorney, adding to the confusion over why he is not taking the lead on the Mar-a-Lago case. Mr Kise has won four cases in the Supreme Court and formerly worked for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' transition team.

Mr Kise was reportedly not involved in Mr Trump's Capitol riot legal defense, as he did not appear at a federal courthouse in Washington DC last week with the former president's other attorneys.

Mr Trump recently hired another attorney, Michael van der Veen, to defend him against Ms James' lawsuit in New York, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Mr van der Veen previously represented the former president in his second impeachment trial.

Prosecutors in that case claim the Trump Organisation was involved in a 15-year tax fraud scheme, allowing its executives to avoid paying federal, state and city taxes on unreported income. The court case is expected to begin next month.

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