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Do Donald Trump’s Defense Lawyers Have Enough Criminal Law Experience?
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Winston and Strawn

Summary: Donald Trump’s legal team lacks extensive criminal law expertise, according to Bloomberg Politics. 

After Trump’s legal team lost its lead attorney, the President has been on the search for new members of his defense against the probe from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. So far, at least five law firms have confirmed their attorneys will not be helping Trump, and on Wednesday, Bloomberg Politics said that Trump’s team’s lack of criminal law expertise will “expose the president to legal risk.”


Mueller was hired to investigate whether Russia interfered in the 2016 Presidential Election and whether or not Russia helped Trump get elected. So far, he has indicted five members of Trump’s inner circle, and four of whom have pled guilty.

Trump’s legal team recently lost its lead attorney, John Dowd, a lawyer with years of criminal law experience, and so far, Trump’s other attorney Jay Sekulow has stepped up to the plate to lead the defense. The problem with that, according to Bloomberg, is that Sekulow’s specialty is the First Amendment and religious freedom cases, and without an expert in criminal law, Trump is vulnerable to Mueller.

Sekulow has taken the lead when it comes to Trump’s legal strategy and negotiations with Mueller, and Bloomberg said that his background could “help him wage a fight to block questioning by Mueller or limit its scope, but he has no experience guiding a client through a complex criminal investigation.”

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According to Bloomberg, Sekulow is a renowned Constitutional law attorney who was brought onto Trump’s team for that expertise but not for his criminal law practice.

“When [Sekulow] was recruited to join Trump’s legal team last summer it was mostly because of his background in constitutional law, which could come into play over issues of executive privilege and presidential powers,” Bloomberg said. “It was Dowd — with his experience in high-profile criminal investigations and rapport with Mueller — who was expected to help Trump weather the deep probing into his campaign, business and presidency.”

Sekulow is facing Mueller’s team of 17 prosecutors with decades of criminal law experience, which includes cases involving the mafia. Bloomberg stated that without a criminal lawyer Trump is at risk if he is interviewed by Mueller. If he makes any mistakes, he has the chance of being charged for lying to a federal agent, a charge some of his former colleagues have already pled guilty to.

“It’s a very dangerous situation for the president not to have top-flight white-collar representation,” Randall Eliason, a professor of white-collar criminal law at George Washington University Law School, told Bloomberg. “It’s a specialty. You wouldn’t go to your throat doctor for brain surgery.”

Last week, Sekulow said that he was promoting Andrew Ekonomou to a more prominent role on the team. Ekonomou is a former federal prosecutor who has extensive criminal law experience but no experience with a Washington case.

According to Bloomberg, Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz recruited Dowd because he had a similar experience as Mueller and would be a formidable foe. However, behind the scenes, Dowd and Trump did not see eye-to-eye about the strategy of the case, but Dowd was pushed to the limit when Trump hired lawyer Joseph diGenova on March 19 with little to no feedback from Dowd.

On March 22, Dowd formally resigned as the lead attorney on Trump’s legal team.

What do you think of Bloomberg’s assessment of Trump’s legal team? Let us know in the comments below.


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