Chris Kise, the former Florida Attorney General who was on Governor Ron DeSantis’ transition team, signed a contract to represent Donald Trump in the criminal case that resulted in the FBI search of the former president’s Mar-a-law home. Lago, according to two sources with knowledge of the discussions.
Kise, who declined to comment, began negotiations with Trump shortly after the FBI’s search for his Palm Beach estate on Aug. 8. Numerous other criminal defense attorneys have said they were unable to represent the former president in Florida’s Southern District. according to five people with knowledge of the legal efforts, a time-consuming job of representing Trump or his reputation as a penny-squeezing problematic client with a history of rival advisers stabbing each other in the back.
Other lawyers have refused because their firms wanted to avoid the political backlash of representing such a divisive figure, according to those in Trump’s orbit who say Kise is considering leaving the firm of Foley & Lardner – where he had briefly represented the government of Venezuela two years ago when hostilities with the United States escalated – to take the job.
Kise has won four cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous cases before the Florida Supreme Court, and he also has a reputation as an accomplished political knife hunter. In the closing days of the 2018 governor’s race, Kise widely published damaging information about Democrat Andrew Gillum secretly accepting free tickets to the Broadway show “Hamilton” from undercover FBI agents, in defiance of ethics. Florida laws. Gillum, who denied the wrongdoing, ended up narrowly losing to DeSantis and was indicted earlier this year after the FBI investigation.
“Chris is a 360-degree attorney: appellate, civil, criminal, state and federal — he can do it all,” said former Florida Senator George LeMieux, who served as the chief of staff to then-Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist in 2003. when the office appointed Kise as attorney general.
Brian Ballard, a top lobbyist and fundraiser for Trump and DeSantis, told NBC News that “Chris is not only my friend, he is one of the best lawyers I have ever met. His unique experience is perfectly suited to [former] President Trump.”
Ballard was also one of the largest fundraisers in 2006 for DeSantis’ current political opponent, Crist, who is now a member of the Democratic Party and a member of the U.S. House. After Crist left the governor’s mansion, Kise advised the transition team for his Republican governor successor, Rick Scott, and advised DeSantis’ transition after he succeeded Scott.
Kise’s appointment comes at a pivotal time for Trump. His legal representation has been widely derided in recent weeks for suggesting unfounded conspiracy theories that the FBI had planted evidence until the late and late hours during the search. unconventional way it drafted a legal request for a special captain to review some documents seized during the search.
But despite the mockeryA Trump-appointed federal judge agreed to hear the special lead case Thursday, when Kise is expected to appear for the first time in West Palm Beach federal court as Trump’s attorney.
“I wish nothing but the best for Kise, but hope is not a strategy when it comes to working for Trump. I hope he has a good contract,” said a lawyer who has represented the former president but declined to speak officially because of the political ramifications of crossing him.
Kise’s exact title is unclear. Boris Epshteyn remains a top legal counsel to Trump and de facto corporate lawyer who helped hire attorneys Jim Trusty and Evan Corcoran.
Over the course of a year, the case that began as an archival dispute with the National Archives grew into a full-blown criminal investigation that led to the FBI’s unprecedented search and seizure of numerous classified and classified documents. Trump insists the search was unwarranted and that he was in legal possession of the documents, a defense many legal experts dispute.
Trusty and Corcoran, who do not live in Florida, are expected to remain on the team for the time being, but those who understand prosecutions involving classified and sensitive data say Trump may need specialist counsel familiar with criminal cases with classified documents if he becomes sued.