Legal experts respond to report Trump attorneys now preparing criminal defense: 'Would’ve started 18 months ago'

Legal experts respond to report Trump attorneys now preparing criminal defense: 'Would’ve started 18 months ago'
President Donald Trump pauses during the 9/11 Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Sept. 11, 2017. During the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, 184 people were killed at the Pentagon. To the left is first lady Melania Trump, and to the right are Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. (DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)
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Legal experts are weighing in on news that attorneys for Donald Trump are “increasingly anxious” and starting to prepare for possible criminal charges against the former president.

“Members of the Trump legal team are quietly preparing, in the event charges are brought,” a person “familiar with the situation” told Rolling Stone in a report published Sunday night. “It would be career malpractice not to. Do the [former] president’s attorneys believe everything Cassidy [Hutchinson] said? No … Do they think the Department of Justice would be wise to charge him? No. But we’ve gotten to a point where if you don’t think criminal charges are at least somewhat likely, you are not serving the [former] president’s best interests.”

Rolling Stone adds that “Trump’s team has discussed strategies that involve shifting blame from Trump to his advisors for the efforts to overturn the election, per the three sources, reflecting a broader push to find a fall fall-guy — or fall-guys.”

One source said: “Trump got some terrible advice from attorneys who, some people would argue, should have or must have known better.”

“An ‘advice of counsel’ defense would be a big one,” they added.

The Rolling Stone report also suggests Trump has been aware of the possibility of charges for some time.

“Trump also seems keenly aware of the blowback that could result from a federal indictment — and is telling supporters it could be politically advantageous. Early this year, the former president told fans at a Texas rally that if prosecutors go after him, ‘we are going to have in this country the biggest protest we have ever had…in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere,'” the report states.

Legal experts are weighing in on news that attorneys for Donald Trump are “increasingly anxious” and starting to prepare for possible criminal charges against the former president.

“Members of the Trump legal team are quietly preparing, in the event charges are brought,” a person “familiar with the situation” told Rolling Stone in a report published Sunday night. “It would be career malpractice not to. Do the [former] president’s attorneys believe everything Cassidy [Hutchinson] said? No … Do they think the Department of Justice would be wise to charge him? No. But we’ve gotten to a point where if you don’t think criminal charges are at least somewhat likely, you are not serving the [former] president’s best interests.”

Rolling Stone adds that “Trump’s team has discussed strategies that involve shifting blame from Trump to his advisors for the efforts to overturn the election, per the three sources, reflecting a broader push to find a fall fall-guy — or fall-guys.”

READ MORE: George Conway: Donald Trump Engaged in a ‘Multi-Faceted Criminal Conspiracy’

One source said: “Trump got some terrible advice from attorneys who, some people would argue, should have or must have known better.”

“An ‘advice of counsel’ defense would be a big one,” they added.

The Rolling Stone report also suggests Trump has been aware of the possibility of charges for some time.

“Trump also seems keenly aware of the blowback that could result from a federal indictment — and is telling supporters it could be politically advantageous. Early this year, the former president told fans at a Texas rally that if prosecutors go after him, ‘we are going to have in this country the biggest protest we have ever had…in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere,'” the report states.

READ MORE: Georgia Election Investigation ‘Will Send Donald Trump to Jail’: Former Watergate Prosecutor

Top national security attorney Bradley Moss commented on Trump’s attorneys beginning to work on his criminal defense: “I would have started that work 18 months ago but that’s me.”

Attorney George Conway, spouse to former top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, appeared to weigh in hours after pointing to the Rolling Stone report.

“There is nothing in the statute books or in the DOJ prosecution manual or in criminal law generally that says incompetent and unsuccessful criminal conspiracies don’t get prosecuted. The nation’s prisons are filled with maladroit miscreants. Tfg would be perfectly at home.”

He also pointed to a June tweet from former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now a law professor and MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst.

READ MORE: ‘Clear and Present Danger’: Conservative Former Judge Testifies Donald Trump and Allies Are Threat to Democracy (Video)

“I’ve prosecuted many an incompetent conspiracy. You don’t get a pass for that,” she wrote.

And at one point Conway mocked, “I’ve always envisioned him making defective license plates.”

Retired and noted Harvard Law School law professor Laurence Tribe, who wrote a major book on the Constitution, focused on the portion of the report that mentions “a broader push to find a fall fall-guy — or fall-guys.”

He writes: “Who’d be surprised?”

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti says, “Obviously, since Trump is the subject of a federal criminal investigation, his lawyers are beginning to consider what his defense would be. I don’t find this news surprising.”

University of California, Berkeley, School of Law law professor Orrin Kerr, also focusing on the “fall guy” portion of the report, appeared to mock the former president.

“After all the top lawyers and officials I had appointed told me this was illegal, I looked around and found *someone* with a bar membership willing to tell me what I was going to do was not obviously illegal, and I relied on them on the advice of counsel.”

Katie S. Phang, an anchor and Legal Contributor at NBC and MSNBC, offered a colorful response.

“Trump is going to allege a Covfefe Conspiracy between everyone else, but him. Hey Meadows, Giuliani, Eastman, Clark, et al.: buckle up because you’re about to go through some things.”

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