Former President Donald Trump has hired a top white-collar criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, Todd Blanche, as his lead counsel to handle the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal indictment of the former president.
Blanche, until recently a partner at law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, said in an email obtained by POLITICO that he was resigning from the firm because “I have been asked to represent Trump in the recently charged DA case, and after much thought/consideration, I have decided it is the best thing for me to do and an opportunity I should not pass up.”
Blanche declined to comment Monday. Trump is also represented in the case by Susan Necheles and Joe Tacopina, lawyers who represented him during the investigation that led to the indictment.
Blanche, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, has previously represented Trump ally Paul Manafort as well as Igor Fruman, a onetime associate of Rudy Giuliani who pleaded guilty in a campaign finance case brought by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office.
In particular, Blanche’s representation of Manafort may have caught Trump’s eye. Blanche led the successful effort to get mortgage fraud and other charges brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office dropped after arguing they would amount to double jeopardy because the state charges covered the same conduct for which Manafort had already been tried on a federal level.
Manafort was charged by the previous Manhattan district attorney, Cy Vance, a Democrat.
Blanche was vocal during that effort in calling the indictment of Manafort “politically motivated,” a charge Trump has also levied at the current district attorney, Alvin Bragg, also a Democrat.
In his resignation email, Blanche said he was unable to take Trump as a client while remaining at Cadwalader, New York City’s oldest law firm and one of its most elite. “Obviously, doing this as a partner at Cadwalader was not an option, so I have had to make the difficult choice to leave the firm.”
A spokesman for Cadwalader didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The addition to Trump’s legal team came as the former president is set to surrender Tuesday to the district attorney’s office to face criminal charges connected to his alleged role in a scheme to reimburse his former lawyer for a hush money payment made to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, during the 2016 presidential campaign. After he surrenders, Trump is expected to appear in court Tuesday afternoon to be arraigned.
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