A top attorney for Donald Trump said Wednesday that he is leaving the former president’s legal team, becoming the latest lawyer to depart as Trump faces multiple criminal investigations.
Timothy Parlatore has been part of an often fractious group of lawyers representing Trump in special counsel Jack Smith’s probes of the possible mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s Florida home and private club; and the involvement of Trump and his inner circle in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and organize the events that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Prosecutors have gathered evidence from dozens of witnesses in both cases, many of whom have now testified to grand juries in Washington.
Parlatore told The Washington Post that he notified Trump directly of his departure on Tuesday and that his exit “had nothing to do with the underlying case.” The decision was first reported by CNN.
“It’s been an incredible honor to serve and work through interesting legal issues,” Parlatore said in a statement. “My departure was a personal choice and does not reflect upon the case, as I believe strongly the [Justice Department] team is engaging in misconduct to pursue an investigation of conduct that is not criminal.”
At the end of last year, Parlatore testified before the federal grand jury probing Trump’s handling of classified documents. He was questioned in particular about efforts by Trump’s team to locate any classified documents that remained in the former president’s possession after the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago Club and residence last August.
Parlatore also was the lead author of a 10-page letter sent last month to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). The letter offered the most detailed public defense of Trump’s conduct in the documents case to date, arguing that the former president didn’t know what was in boxes of material shipped to Mar-a-Lago and that the entire controversy would have been avoided if the National Archives and Records Administration had properly assisted him after he left the White House.
The letter asks that elected officials intervene and order the Justice Department to drop the criminal case — an outcome that would be highly unusual and seems improbable. Parlatore wrote that instead of a criminal probe, intelligence agencies should “conduct an appropriate investigation and provide a full report to this Committee, as well as your counterparts in the Senate.”
Evan Corcoran, another of Trump’s top lawyers, also appeared before the grand jury in the documents case earlier this year after prosecutors won a court fight to secure his testimony. Judges ruled that Corcoran could not use attorney-client privilege to avoid disclosing information about his communications with Trump, citing the crime-fraud exception — which says lawyers can be questioned if there is evidence that a client used the attorney’s legal services in furtherance of a crime.
After appearing before the grand jury, Corcoran recused himself from the Mar-a-Lago case. But he is still representing Trump in other legal matters, such as Smith’s probe into the Jan. 6 attack, and efforts to overturn the election.
While it’s unclear what Corcoran told the grand jury, legal ethics rules generally bar lawyers from acting as advocates at trial when they are likely to be essential witnesses.
Trump’s legal team on the classified documents case — which still includes lawyers James Trusty, John Rowley and Lindsey Halligan — has struggled with infighting over the best strategy for the former president.
Christopher Kise, a former Florida solicitor general whom Trump hired after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, was booted off the case and assigned to handle other matters after an internal disagreement over how aggressive a posture Trump should assume toward the Justice Department.
One of Trump’s top advisers and most loyal allies, Boris Epshteyn, has proved to be a major source of tension within the team, according to others in Trump’s inner circle, who have spoken on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The Post reported last month that Epshteyn might take a reduced role in the cases Smith is investigating, after several lawyers threatened to quit if they had to continue reporting to Epshteyn. But Trump has fully stood by Epshteyn and kept him in a senior role, the people familiar with the situation say.
Epshteyn was among the lawyers with Trump in New York last month when he was arraigned in a separate criminal case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. In that case, the former president pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments to an adult film actress.
Trump is also facing a criminal probe of efforts by him and others to overturn the election results in Fulton County, Ga.