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Trump Adds Rudy Giuliani And 2 Other Defense Lawyers To Personal Legal Team


This week, President Trump beefed up his personal legal team, adding three new attorneys. One was a household name, former New York City mayor and longtime Trump adviser, Rudy Giuliani. The other two new hires are not as well-known - they are Marty and Jane Raskin, a husband-and-wife team of criminal defense lawyers. Our next guest says the Raskins' hiring is actually way more significant than the splashy hire of Giuliani. David Graham is a staff writer at The Atlantic, and he joins us now. Welcome.

DAVID GRAHAM: Thank you.

CHANG: So who are the Raskins?

GRAHAM: They are - as you say, they're a husband-and-wife team of lawyers. They're both veterans of the Justice Department. And they're based in Florida. And they have a long record of representing white-collar clients and also public officials who are charged with crimes or might think they could be charged with crimes.

CHANG: And what does their hiring signal about the president's legal strategy?

GRAHAM: One thing that's really significant - I think - is the president has not had a criminal defense specialist on his personal legal team now since John Dowd left in March. And so now he has a couple people who have real, deep experience in criminal defense, and in particular with public officials. So that says to me that he is getting fairly serious about hiring and is settling in for, you know, a long investigation, and one in which he wants experienced defense.

CHANG: Who are some of the Raskins' past clients?

GRAHAM: So they have a wide-ranging roster. And if you look at the sort of cases they have taken on, they focus on some of the areas where Trump might have liabilities. He obviously has not been charged with a crime, and we don't know if he will be charged with a crime. But some of the things they have defended a lot are public officials, and that includes people from a lot of federal agencies. That includes political action committees, some elected officials, although obviously no one on the level of - profile of a president.

They've also focused a lot on search warrants. You know, they boast on their website about being able to defend clients against search warrants, and particularly on issues of attorney-client privilege, making sure that privileged documents are not available to prosecutors and can be used against the client.

CHANG: Which has become the central issue in the investigation of Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

GRAHAM: Precisely.

CHANG: What do we know about their style when it comes to legal warfare?

GRAHAM: You know, they don't have the same kind of profile, so we're flying a little bit more blind. But people who have worked with them, particularly in Florida, where they're based, say that they're hard-nosed. They're very serious. But they're not noisy or flamboyant. They just really get the job done.

CHANG: Speaking of noisy and flamboyant, I'm going to go to that other new hire. You write that Rudy Giuliani does have real experience in the legal trenches. He's a former U.S. attorney. But that was nearly three decades ago. What do you think he brings to this new legal team?

GRAHAM: So that's right. He does have experience. I mean, he's a former, very successful federal prosecutor. He knows criminal law, and he's been involved in litigation since leaving office. But he's another one of these sort of big-name, named partners, the sort of people you see on TV. I think he gives a couple of things.

One, we know Trump loves having people around him with whom he's comfortable. And Giuliani is that. They talk a lot, and they have a real bond. He's also somebody who's a good spokesman. So what you see in successful defense teams often of this kind is you have somebody who's the public face, and you have other people who are doing the work behind the scenes. Giuliani can go out on TV, and the Raskins can be behind the scenes doing some of the more nitty-gritty work.

CHANG: David Graham is a staff writer at The Atlantic. His latest piece is called "Rudy Giuliani Isn't The Big Trump Legal Story." Thanks very much.

GRAHAM: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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