Why Is Donald Trump Reportedly Struggling To Find Legal Representation?

Ever since Donald Trump was sworn in as president in January 2017, it became quickly apparent that his track record with his personal lawyers was far from great. From 2016 to 2018, now-disbarred attorney Michael Cohen, a former Trump Organization executive who developed a reputation as Trump's "fixer," became the subject of scrutiny over a bevy of scandals. First, there was the scandal over paying off sex worker Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her sexual relationship with Trump by way of campaign contributions through a shell company. There was also his alleged handing over money in order to retrieve confidential information obtained by Russian hackers, and committing false campaign finance violations. (Cohen pled guilty to the latter, among other charges, resulting in a year-long prison sentence followed by house arrest.) 

After Cohen came Rudy Giuliani, who served as Trump's personal lawyer until immediately following the January 6 Capitol Hill insurrection after which Trump purportedly blocked Giuliani from communicating with him, and refused to pay Giuliani's $20,000 per diem rate for his legal services. (Though their fallout and subsequent feud lasted for a number of months, it seems Trump and Giuliani, the latter of whom has now had his law licenses suspended, have seemingly reconciled over their perennial conversation topic: election fraud).

Considering Trump's checkered history with personal representation in relation to the January 6 riots — and considering his attempts to flex executive privilege failed, per The Hill — he might still desperately be in need of counsel. So why doesn't anyone want to represent Trump?

No one is jumping to represent Donald Trump in court

According to an October report published by CNN, sources and experts who spoke to the news network were candid as to why, in the words of Berkeley law professor John Woo, lawyers and law firms are steering clear of Trump "not [with] a 10-foot pole," but a "1,000-foot pole." Reportedly, reasons for this wide berth are split between Trump's record of not paying his legal representation (as he allegedly did to Rudy Giuliani) and his exhausting efforts to cling to baseless claims of election fraud in November 2020.

One source disclosed Trump has been turned down by at least four high-profile law firms within the past few weeks for representation, and that one of the four, William Burck, has represented 11 Trump associates in the past. Another source also claimed to CNN that the latest dismissal by Burck was the last of three and that Burck's reasoning was directly tied to Trump's unsubstantiated fraud claims. 

Despite this, Trump has attempted to spin these shutdowns into good PR. Referring to the lawyers who refused to take him under their wing, Trump said in a statement, "I don't even know who they are, they are just looking to get publicity." As for questions about whether Trump actually pays his lawyers, Trump said:  "I do pay my lawyers when they do a good job."