- Donald Trump is facing plenty of legal risk in his post-presidency.
- With large firms reluctant to represent him, he’s hired GOP allies who aided his election fights.
- Rudy Giuliani’s law license has been suspended over his Trump work. Another is facing sanctions.
Between rallies and rounds of golf, Donald Trump this summer has suffered a string of legal setbacks.
Holed up at his members-only golf club in New Jersey, the former president has seen his business indicted on criminal charges in Manhattan and his financial records opened up to House Democrats after a yearslong legal fight.
And the Biden-era Justice Department has greenlighted former Trump administration officials to testify about the January 6 insurrection and the events leading up to it, including Trump’s ill-fated efforts to overturn his electoral defeat and hold onto the White House.
Trump being Trump, he isn’t backing down. And that’s where his army of lawyers comes into the mix. His team is constantly evolving as the legal woes grow, with some members themselves now facing scrutiny.
Meet them here:
Former Rep. Doug Collins
In early August, when Trump communicated that he would not go to court to block former Justice Department officials from testifying before Congress, it was a former House ally who signed the letter.
Collins, a Georgia Republican, left Congress earlier this year after running unsuccessfully for Senate in a special election last year. In that race, Collins took on the incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, whom Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed to fill the seat after the resignation of former Sen. Johnny Isakson. Loeffler later lost to now-Sen. Raphael Warnock.
As a top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Collins emerged as a vocal defender of Trump during his first impeachment. After leaving the House, Collins joined the law firm Oliver & Weidner in Clarkesville, Georgia. Its website: NorthGeorgiaLawyers.com.
Read more: How Donald Trump is defunding police, charities, and Rudy
In his letter to one of the former Justice Department officials, Jeff Rosen, Collins asserted that Biden officials had unlawfully waived executive privilege in clearing the onetime Trump appointees to sit for transcribed interviews.
But, he wrote, “to avoid further distraction and without in any way otherwise waiving the executive privilege associated with the matters the committees are purporting to investigate, President Trump will agree not to seek judicial intervention to prevent your testimony” and the testimony of five other former Justice Department officials “so long as the committees do not seek privileged information from any other Trump administration officials or advisors.”
“If the committees do seek such information, however, we will take all necessary and appropriate steps on President Trump’s behalf to defend the office of the presidency,” Collins added.
As the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance closed in on the Trump Organization earlier this year, the former president turned to an 85-year-old defense lawyer who once worked at the same firm as a top prosecutor involved in the investigation.
In the 1980s, Fischetti was a law partner of Mark Pomerantz, a respected former prosecutor who took a leave of absence from the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in February to join Vance’s team. The hiring of Pomerantz added a formidable lawyer to Vance’s team as it investigated the Trump Organization and eventually brought charges, in early July, against the company and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.
Read more: Where is Trump’s White House staff now? We created a searchable database of more than 329 top staffers
After Pomerantz’s hiring, Fischetti told the New York Law Journal that his former partner was the “best lawyer I’ve ever worked with or against.”
As Insider’s Jacob Shamsian reported, Fischetti has years of experience defending high-profile mobsters, along with politicians accused of corruption. Among his past clients is former South Carolina state Sen. Albert Carmichael Jr., who was found guilty of buying votes during a 1980 Democratic primary.
A former clerk of Justice Clarence Thomas, Consovoy rose to prominence in the Trump administration defending the then-president against House Democrats’ efforts to obtain his personal financial records.
In early August, House Democrats scored a partial victory as Judge Amit Mehta granted them access to Trump’s tax returns from 2017 and 2018 but ruled that a broader set of financial records — dating back to 2011 — were not necessary for their stated aim of fixing “glaring weaknesses in current ethics legislation.”
In a 53-page opinion, Mehta raised concerns that the breadth of the House Democrats’ request would impose on the separation of powers.
“The more Congress can invade the personal sphere of a former President,” he wrote, “the greater the leverage Congress would have on a sitting president.”
Read more: Trumpworld is being tormented by this tiny legal office that almost nobody’s heard of
The ruling left both sides unsatisfied, prompting House Democrats and Trump’s legal teams to challenge the decision to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
Consovoy also joined with Trump’s defense lawyers in New York to head off the Manhattan district attorney’s pursuit of the former president’s tax returns. The case reached the US Supreme Court, which in a 7-2 ruling cleared the way for Vance to gain access to Trump’s closely held financial records.
Ahead of the 2020 election, Consovoy was among the lawyers for Trump who challenged a Nevada law that called for registered voters in the state to automatically receive mail-in ballots and set a minimum number of polling places for in-person voters.
The court challenge, like many filed on Trump’s behalf after the election, was dismissed.
A Juilliard-trained trombonist, Futerfas made a name for himself as a criminal-defense lawyer representing mobsters.
More recently, he represented the former president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation after the revelation that he met with a Russian lawyer in 2016 who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Now Futerfas is defending the Trump Organization as it faces tax-fraud charges. Prosecutors in Manhattan have accused the Trump Organization of giving Weisselberg, the longtime executive, more than $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation.
Read more: Steve Bannon sought taxpayer money to pay for $1 million in legal fees he racked up from the Russia probe. We’ve got the receipts.
Futerfas appeared in court on behalf of the Trump Organization as the company pleaded not guilty. Weisselberg, represented by the criminal-defense lawyer Mary Mulligan, has also denied wrongdoing.
In public statements, Futerfas has called the case against the Trump Organization as “unprecedented” and politically motivated.
“If the name of the company was something else, I don’t think these charges would’ve been brought. In fact, I am fairly certain they would not have been brought if the name was a different name,” he said.
Sekulow played a leading role defending Trump during his first impeachment trial and remains a key figure in Trump’s post-presidency orbit of lawyers.
Last year, as Trump made baseless claims of electoral fraud, Sekulow argued on behalf of the then-president in a challenge to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that granted three extra days for the receipt of mail-in votes. The US Supreme Court ultimately declined to hear the case.
Ahead of Trump’s second impeachment, over remarks that were seen as inciting a violent mob to storm the Capitol, Sekulow warned that it would be a “gigantic mistake” to seek Trump’s removal and disbarment from holding future office.
“Why divide the country so significantly when the president in fact is going to be out of office in 12 days?” Sekulow asked on his daily radio show.
Read more: The longtime prosecutor leading the Georgia investigation into Trump has gone silent
But, like other members of Trump’s first impeachment defense team, Sekulow was notably absent from the second Senate impeachment trial. One former Trump administration official told Insider that Sekulow had been “stiff-arming” the former president.
“He didn’t participate in the impeachment. He didn’t do a lot of things I know the president would have preferred to have him in — some things that he skillfully avoided,” the former administration official said.
Sekulow was among the lawyers representing Trump as the Manhattan district attorney and New York state attorney general mount investigations into him and the Trump Organization.
On Tuesday, Sekulow told Insider that his “legal work is complete.”
On his radio show, Sekulow has featured prominent Trump appointees — including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Rick Grenell, the former acting director of US National Intelligence — as he has remained firmly in Trumpworld.
A once little-known lawyer in Alexandria, Virginia, Binnall joined with the right-wing lawyer Sidney Powell to defend Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
The Justice Department ultimately moved to drop the prosecution of Flynn, drawing scrutiny from a federal judge in Washington who questioned the unusual abandonment of a case in which the former Trump advisor twice pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his past communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Trump pardoned Flynn along with several other close associates in the waning weeks of his presidency.
Binnall more recently stepped in to defend Trump against lawsuits brought by House Democrats alleging that he incited the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6. Five people died in the melee.
In a separate case, Binnall is defending Trump against claims that he violated the Voting Rights Act with his efforts to overturn the election results.
Until recently, Binnall had also been defending Powell’s group Defending The Republic against a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems. In a court filing Tuesday, the group said Binnall was in the process of withdrawing from the case.
In early August, Judge Carl Nichols, a 2019 appointee to the federal trial court in Washington, ruled that Dominion’s defamation lawsuit could proceed against Powell, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and the MyPillow founder Mike Lindell.
As a top lawyer for the Trump campaign, Cannon was tasked with the unwinding of the 2020 Trump reelection operation. He is likely to figure prominently in preparations for a possible 2024 Trump presidential campaign, which Trump has increasingly teased in public remarks since leaving the White House.
“You do have hope, that I can tell you. You do have hope,” Trump said earlier this year on his daughter-in-law Lara Trump’s podcast, when asked whether his supporters had hope of another presidential run.
Formerly a top deputy to Trump’s son, Eric Trump, Cannon was closely involved in the creation of a Trump campaign shell company that helped hide $617 million in 2020 presidential-campaign spending.
Clark, a former Trump deputy campaign manager, continued to coordinate the former president’s legal efforts after the 2020 election, according to Trump advisors.
But multiple Trump advisors have criticized Clark over his handling of court fights across battleground states that fizzled as Trump and his supporters made meritless claims of rampant electoral fraud.
Clark has long been a member of Trump’s political operation, starting from his work on the 2016 campaign and continuing into Trump’s post-presidency.
In the intervening years, he worked closely with Trump’s former White House political director and 2020 campaign manager, Bill Stepien. The pair continue to form an influential power center in Trump’s orbit.
Trump administration alumni
While viewed with suspicion among some of Trump’s most loyal supporters, the former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and other lawyers from the past administration have remained in contact with the 45th president — or at least his papers.
Trump picked Cipollone, along with the former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and the former National Security Council legal advisor John Eisenberg, to serve as gatekeepers to records from his presidency. Those papers are now the property of the National Archives and Records Administration, and they could become available to the Biden administration, although Trump and his lawyers can try to withhold them by claiming executive privilege.
Also on the records team is Steven Engel, who signed off on a number of legal opinions supportive of Trump while leading the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under the last administration. Trump also picked three former deputy White House counsels for the team, including Patrick Philbin, Michael Purpura and Scott Gast.
Purpura, Philbin, and Cipollone all represented Trump during his first impeachment trial.
Eisenberg found himself at the center of the first impeachment after having a transcript of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president moved to a highly classified server. Two witnesses in the impeachment proceedings, then-Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and National Security Council advisor Fiona Hill, had also raised concerns with Eisenberg about comments Trump and the former ambassador to the European Union made to Ukrainian officials.
Herschmann advocated against the first impeachment of Trump before joining the White House as a senior advisor later in 2020.
At the Senate impeachment trial, which centered on Trump’s bid to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation into now-President Joe Biden and his family, Herschmann’s arguments featured claims about Hunter Biden’s membership on the board of one of Ukraine’s largest natural-gas companies.
“You can pay family members from our highest government officials and no one is allowed to ask questions?” Herschmann said during the proceedings. “What was going on?”
Herschmann’s White House role put him at the center of a contentious meeting that, as Axios reported in February, pit election “conspiracists against a handful of White House lawyers and advisers determined to keep the president from giving in to temptation to invoke emergency national security powers, seize voting machines and disable the primary levers of American democracy.”
During the meeting, Trump supporters accused Herschmann of being a “quitter.” Among them: Powell, former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn, and former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne, who wanted more aggressive action to overturn Biden’s electoral victory.
When Byrne accused him of “interfering with everything” and “cutting us off,” Herschmann reportedly snapped: “Do you even know who the f— I am, you idiot?”
“Yeah, you’re Patrick Cipollone,” Byrne replied, according to Axios.
“Wrong! Wrong, you idiot!” Herschmann said.
Before joining the White House, Herschmann was a partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres, a law firm closely associated with Trump.
In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s electoral defeat, Giuliani and Powell emerged as the faces of the then-president’s campaign to overturn or otherwise cast doubt on the results.
Their efforts backfired in a multitude of ways, leaving both of them now cut out of Trumpworld — and facing potentially dire consequences.
Powell is facing the threat of a formal sanction in Michigan over her unfounded claims of voter fraud. In Washington, DC, she is facing a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit from the election-infrastructure company Dominion Voting Systems.
The litigation has brought more embarrassment upon Powell, who said in a recent court filing that “reasonable people would not accept” her claims of widespread election fraud “as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process.”
Giuliani, meanwhile, has seen his law license suspended in New York and Washington. In New York, a court found in June that Giuliani made “demonstrably false and misleading statements” while contesting the 2020 election results on Trump’s behalf.
Some Trump advisors told Insider that Giuliani’s diminished status could also be linked to the former New York City mayor’s own legal jeopardy as his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and his extensive dealings in Ukraine come under scrutiny.
In a separate case, a group of 10 House Democrats joined a lawsuit accusing Giuliani and Trump of conspiring to incite the violent riot at the Capitol. The lawsuit, originally filed by the NAACP on behalf of US Rep. Bennie Thompson, alleges that Trump and Giuliani violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, a 19th century law that includes protections against violent conspiracies aimed at disrupting Congress’ constitutional duties.
The lawsuit initially named the Oath Keepers militia group and the Proud Boys, a far-right nationalist group, as defendants. But, with the dissolution of the Proud Boys organization in February, House Democrats have amended the lawsuit to name new defendants, including the Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and Warboys LLC, which it describes as a successor group.