Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Friday, August 11, 2017

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is changing his attorneys as a federal investigation heats up into his financial transactions, according to people familiar with the matter. A spokesman confirmed the change. "Mr. Manafort is in the process of retaining his former counsel, Miller & Chevalier, to represent him in the office of special counsel investigation. As of today, WilmerHale no longer represents Mr. Manafort," Jason Maloni said in a statement. But then Mike Warren of the Weekly Standard shared this information: "I am told Manafort did not fire WilmerHale." There still isn't any official confirmation yet that Paul Manafort's attorneys really did fire him. But if he didn't fire WilmerHale, there's no other logical explanation for why they're longer representing him.

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So if they did fire him, it significantly alters the narrative, because there are only a handful of explanations as to why a law firm would fire a client at such a pivotal time. One would be if they weren't getting paid. But Manafort was able to turn around and hire another prestigious high priced law firm, so this doesn't appear to be about money. The most common remaining reason a law firm would fire a client: he lied to them about something crucial, they finally caught him in that lie, and they've concluded that they can no longer represent him for fear that it would create legal liability for themselves.

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First off, this is only speculation at this point based on a single anonymous source and admittedly strange timing. Manafort's home was raided two weeks ago even though the public only found out about it in the last 48 hours. Why would it take two further weeks to change counsel since they've known what the FBI/Mueller was searching for? It does make some sense that Manafort himself was "fired" by his previous firm even if no official word or blanket denials become public as soon as someone in the media publicly asks the question.

Just another interesting wrinkle in an otherwise incredible menagerie of incredible characters foist on this nation by Trump Inc.

#1 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 08:02 AM | Reply

Someone else is noticing these strange circumstances:

Let me note something about this afternoon's news that Paul Manafort is switching out his legal team. Pay attention to some key parts of the rather brief announcement. The statement by spokesman Paul Maloni says that Manafort is "in the process of retaining his former counsel, Miller & Chevalier, to represent him in the office of special counsel investigation" and that "as of today, WilmerHale no longer represents Mr. Manafort."

Now, perhaps I'm reading too much into this. But this means that Manafort terminated his relationship with WilmerHale – or vice versa, who knows? – before actually retaining new counsel. Note the statement says that Manafort is "in the process of retaining" this new firm. This isn't a case of a functioning business switching law firms. Manafort is in the mix of a very serious and very aggressive probe in which investigators appear to be moving quickly to force his cooperation. You really wouldn't want to be without counsel in a situation like that for more than the better part of a day.

I'm sure Manafort will get these new folks signed up soon. But the wording of this statement suggests a less than orderly hand off. I bet there's a story there, though I can't say what it is. Josh Marshall

#2 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 09:24 AM | Reply


Let's posit and say that the old firm did indeed terminate its relationship with Mr Manafort.

What sort of reasons would cause them to do so?

In other words, what would have to happen to cause a law firm to terminate the representation of a client mid-stream, just as things appear to be heating up?

#3 | Posted by LampLighter at 2017-08-11 11:58 AM | Reply

The most common remaining reason a law firm would fire a client: he lied to them about something crucial, they finally caught him in that lie, and they've concluded that they can no longer represent him for fear that it would create legal liability for themselves.

#4 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 12:01 PM | Reply

A defendant wouldn't logically "fire" his representation before having found another firm to replace them. This is why multiple observers are noticing this quite strange occurrence.

Perhaps it's nothing, but the timing doesn't seem right because the FBI raid was two weeks ago and this change is happening now. What changed between then and now to precipitate the change if not Manafort revealing something to counsel differently than he had before?

We may never find out, but the question itself is interesting.

#5 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 12:05 PM | Reply

Or he couldn't pay the fees any longer.

#6 | Posted by madscientist at 2017-08-11 12:06 PM | Reply

Or he couldn't pay the fees any longer.

That doesn't appear to be the case since he's hired another high-dollar power firm. I'm sure he had to post quite a substantial retainer since this is a criminal matter, not one with any potential civil reward at the end.

#7 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 12:09 PM | Reply

@#4 ... fear that it would create legal liability for themselves ...

I was wondering if there might be other reasons.

For example, a case moving outside of the area the firm typically works in.

#8 | Posted by LampLighter at 2017-08-11 12:10 PM | Reply

#8

That's one of the theories floated in the Politico story. The new firm is more specialized in the area where Manafort is being pursued, but that doesn't explain why the Weekly Standard reporter was told that the old firm fired Manafort and the circumstances at least potentially support it being as likely as the other.

A further piece of the puzzle is that Rachel Maddow's staff called the old firm for a comment on the rumor that they were no longer employed as Manafort's counsel and they hung up without comment. Wouldn't a more professional response been a polite "no comment" or "he decided other counsel would serve him better"?

#9 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 12:17 PM | Reply


@#9 ... they hung up without comment. Wouldn't a more professional response been a polite "no comment" or "he decided other counsel would serve him better"? ...

The could be getting far too many of those types of calls to waste any time on 'em anymore.

#10 | Posted by LampLighter at 2017-08-11 12:22 PM | Reply

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I figured WilmerHale fired him because that's the firm Mueller resigned from when he became special prosecutor.

#11 | Posted by TedBaxter at 2017-08-11 12:25 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

The could be getting far too many of those types of calls to waste any time on 'em anymore.

The #1 daily news show on American cable tv, one with a reputation of non-sensationalism and straight news reporting?

Law firms that have high profile clients have media spokespeople or protocols too. It's part of the package.

#12 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 12:26 PM | Reply

#11

But they've known that all along. What changed? Could it be that Manafort has put them into the position of having been less than completely truthful due in representing him by keeping certain factual details from them or intentionally misleading them until recent days? How could Mueller ever return to a firm that was sanctioned for trying to impede the investigation he temporarily left them to lead?

Again, all conjecture, but that's what we're doing right now, speculating with what little information is out there.

#13 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 12:35 PM | Reply | Funny: 1

Manafort hired WilmerHale in March, two months before Mueller was named special counsel. The potentiality of conflict was brought up when Mueller was hired, but he had nothing at all to do with Manafort's case nor any information the firm had about the case.

#14 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 12:39 PM | Reply


@#13 ... But they've known that all along. What changed? ...

I don't know, that's why I'm askin'. :)

btw, did candidate Trump fire Manafort, or did Manafort leave the campaign of his own accord?

(gee, that seems like years ago...)

#15 | Posted by LampLighter at 2017-08-11 01:16 PM | Reply


@#11 I figured WilmerHale fired him because that's the firm Mueller resigned from when he became special prosecutor.

Why did they wait so long? Mr Mueller has been the special prosecutor for a while now.

Plus the parting of ways does seem to have a certain abruptness to it.

#16 | Posted by LampLighter at 2017-08-11 01:23 PM | Reply

#13

Yeah, I wondered about that, too. It sounds like his new guy has the perfect specialties for Manafort. Stuff like illegal international banking, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, etc.

#17 | Posted by TedBaxter at 2017-08-11 01:50 PM | Reply

I think Trump fired him when his ties to Ukrainian money became problematic last summer. And don't forget, Manafort was working for Trump for FREE! He wasn't being paid by the campaign or RNC but he was still being paid by Ukrainians at the same time the GOP platform language was changed to a more conciliatory tone over Russia's occupation of Crimea. Of course, Manafort says he had nothing to do with the convention changes which happened to be the only thing the Trump campaign injected themselves into concerning the entire platform.

Days later, Wikileaks began their dump of stolen DNC emails.

#18 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 01:51 PM | Reply

I'm watching news right now and someone is reporting that Manafort simply wanted representation more in-tune to his specific defense needs. But that still doesn't explain the leak about WilmerHale having fired him nor the timing of all of this because the raid happened two weeks ago.

Maybe Mueller has made more recent approaches to Manafort that we don't yet know about but the raid and the timing of the change are strangely incongruent.

#19 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 01:56 PM | Reply

One of the lawyers at WilmerHale here in LA told me that they tried to erect what is known as an "ethical wall" around lawyers that worked with Mueller to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, it may be that the partnership was advised that wasn't going to protect them so they advised Manafort that he needed different counsel. Purely conjecture, but not unheard of especially in light of the potential charges that Manafort may be facing.

#20 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2017-08-11 02:29 PM | Reply

#20

I remember hearing something like this at the time Mueller was named. So is your speculation that WilmerHale let go of Manafort because of the wall, and if so why 5 months after they'd taken the job and 3 months after Mueller left? Couldn't they have figured that out before? Every leak said Manafort was being investigated by grand juries for financial issues regarding his work overseas. They shouldn't have been caught off guard.

#21 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 02:42 PM | Reply

#21

I have no idea, the most common reasons that a firm would "fire" a client are non-payment of invoices, failure to follow advice, conflicts or an ethical issue, including where a client has lied to the firm. Conflicts and ethics usually go hand in hand, and big firms have their own General Counsel and ethics committees that deal with those issues.

Regardless, the only way we could ever know what happened is if Manafort waives the attorney client privilege and tells us and the likleihood of that happening is near zero.

#22 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2017-08-11 03:56 PM | Reply

Thanks for the info.

#23 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 04:02 PM | Reply

Could it be that Manafort has put them into the position of having been less than completely truthful in representing him by keeping certain factual details from them or intentionally misleading them until recent days?

#13 | POSTED BY TONYROMA AT 2017-08-11 12:35 PM | REPLY | FLAGGED FUNNY BY NULLIFIDIAN

...the most common reasons that a firm would "fire" a client are non-payment of invoices, failure to follow advice, conflicts or an ethical issue, including where a client has lied to the firm.

#22 | POSTED BY RIGHTOCENTER AT 2017-08-11 03:56 PM | REPLY | FLAG:

Guess Nulli hasn't gotten around to flagging you yet ROC since we basically said the same thing. Or does he practice a double standard? Hmmmmmm....

#24 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-08-11 04:53 PM | Reply

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