There was a time when just about any criminal defense lawyer in America would salivate at the prospect of representing the president of the United States.
Then Donald Trump became president, a flamboyant, self-declared “outsider” who quickly ran afoul of the rules that are supposed to determine what the leader of the free world could and could not do.
Now, even lawyers avoid Trump.
Writes Paul F. Campos, law professor at the University of Colorado:
The reasons top firms and lawyers are giving for refusing to work for Trump include conflicts of interests with current clients, the possibility of alienating sources of future business, the president’s reluctance to follow legal advice, his tendency to ask lawyers to engage in what Ted Boutrous of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher referred to delicately as “questionable activities,” and his history of not paying his bills.
Yes, the president is a deadbeat who has stiffed thousands, including lawyers.
When it comes to Trump, lawyers say “the guy won’t pay,” reports Ari Melber of MSNBC.
Not paying his bills is a major turnoff for most law firms because defending Trump in the Mueller investigation is going to cost millions of dollars. The Whitewater and Lewinsky scandals ran up $11.3 million in legal fees, which is almost $16 million in 2018 dollars, so this is far from a small sum of money that Trump is going to spend on legal defense for the Mueller investigation. No law firm is going to take Trump on as a client and risk not being paid.
USA Today reports more than 3,500 lawsuits where vendors hired by Trump for construction projects, lawyers hired to represent him, and others who said he would not pay what he owed.
“Trump could have settled it right off the bat, but they wanted to fight it out, that’s their M.O.” says Rod Hannah, a Plantation, Fla. the lawyer who represented the workers in a suit filed by 48 servers after Trump stiffed them for overtime pay on 20+hour days during a special event at one of his golf clubs.
The cases dragged on before the court ordered Trump to pay workers mays of up to $3,000 for one worker and an average of $800 each for others.
Colette Nelson, chief advocacy officer of the American Subcontractors Association, says Trump has bankrupted businesses with his ruthlessness.
“Real estate is a tough and aggressive business, but most business people don’t set out to make their money by breaking the companies that they do business with,” she says.
Campos says Trump’s actions and antics give him the hallmarks of a troublesome client and that, when coupled with a record of not paying adds to “the depths of misgivings Mr. Trump has raised.”
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