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Lawyer who quit Trump legal team cites disagreements with Trump adviser as basis for departure

May 20, 2023, 5:03 PM

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in Pal...

FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in Palm Beach, Fla. Timothy Parlatore, a key lawyer for former President Donald Trump says he's leaving the legal team, a move that comes as a special counsel investigation into the retention of classified documents shows signs of being in its final stages. Timothy Parlatore told The Associated Press that his departure had nothing to do with Trump and was not a reflection on his view of the Justice Department’s investigation, which he has long called misguided and overly aggressive, or on the strength of the government’s evidence. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A lawyer who quit Donald Trump’s legal team this past week attributed his decision Saturday to strategy disagreements with a close adviser to the former president.

potential mishandling of classified documents at his Florida estate, told CNN in an interview on Saturday that there were “certain individuals that made defending the president much harder than it needed to be.”

He singled out Boris Epshteyn, another lawyer and top Trump adviser in multiple criminal investigations, whom he accused of “doing everything he could to try to block us to prevent us from doing what we could to defend the president.”

Parlatore disclosed Wednesday that he was resigning from the Trump legal team, a move that comes as the investigation by special counsel Jack Smith shows signs of winding down and nearing a decision on whether or not to bring charges against the former president. His comments Saturday provided additional context for the decision.

In a statement responding to Parlatore’s comments, a Trump spokesman said “Mr. Parlatore is no longer a member of the legal team. His statements regarding current members of the legal team are unfounded and categorically false.”

In his interview, Parlatore said Epshteyn had served as a “filter” in preventing the legal team from getting information about the investigation to or from Trump.

He also said Epshteyn had resisted the idea of the legal team organizing months ago a search of Trump’s property in Bedminster, New Jersey, for potential additional classified documents, and that he had impeded a defense strategy aimed at helping “educate (Attorney General) Merrick Garland as to how best to handle this matter.” Parlatore was one of the authors of a letter last month to the chairman of the House intelligence committee laying out a series of potential defenses in the investigation.

“It’s difficult enough fighting against DOJ, and in this case a special counsel, but when you also have people within the tent that are also trying to undermine you, block you and really make it so that I can’t do what I know that I need to do as a lawyer,” Parlatore said.

“And when I am getting into fights like that, that’s detracting from what is necessary to defend the client and ultimately was not in the client’s best interest, so I made the decision to withdraw,” he added.

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Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

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Lawyer who quit Trump legal team cites disagreements with Trump adviser as basis for departure