Donald Trump is facing intensifying legal pressure, but he's been unable to attract the type of high-quality lawyers that would typically represent a former president in high-stakes cases.
At least four well-known attorneys have turned down repeated entreaties by Trump's team in recent weeks, a source familiar with the discussions told CNN, leaving the twice-impeached one-term president with a small and relatively inexperienced legal team to litigate executive privilege and other constitutional issues.
"You'd want to see a top 10 national law firm with a big, experienced DC office," said John Yoo, a University of California at Berkeley law professor and former Justice Department official for George W. Bush. "You don't see that here. It's quite glaring."
Some big-name attorneys have been scared away by the ex-president's reputation for non-payment of legal fees, according to sources close to conservative legal circles, while others are staying away because of the damage Trump's previous lawyers have suffered to their reputations.
"It's not a 10-foot pole," Yoo said, "it's a 1,000-foot pole."
One attorney who turned Trump down is white-collar lawyer William Burck, who represented 11 Trump associates in the Robert Mueller investigation but turned down the former president three times in recent months because he had become too toxic after trying to overturn his election loss.
"I don't even know who they are, they are just looking to get publicity," Trump insisted in a statement. "I am using lawyers who have been with us from the beginning."
Two former legal advisers, Patrick Philbin from the White House counsel's office and Justin Clark from the 2020 campaign, are still involved in Trump's legal affairs, but they might find it difficult to get paid if the former president doesn't like the outcome in his fight over executive privilege.
"I do pay my lawyers when they do a good job," Trump said.
Top lawyers won’t touch Donald Trump with a ‘1,000-foot pole’ as legal crises escalate youtu.be