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Trump's legal team considers strategies to defend the former president in court


While lawmakers assess their political strategies, Trump's legal team will be settling on legal strategies to defend the former president in court. Sarah Krissoff used to be a federal prosecutor. She's now a defense attorney, and she's with us now. Good morning.

SARAH KRISSOFF: Good morning.

FADEL: So knowing what we know from the indictment, if you were defending in this case, what would be the thing you'd seize on to try and persuade a jury?

KRISSOFF: So there's a few things really. I think the defense team here really needs to look at the application of the crime fraud exception to Evan Corcoran. That's a big part of this case here, and it's a significant thing that the Department of Justice invoke that exception. And so I think if they can challenge that ruling, you know, they may be able to knock out some of this case. It will be an uphill road, but they can certainly - I think that is one of the more promising areas to defend this case.

FADEL: OK, so the crime fraud exception. Obviously, a lot of the indictment, the stronger evidence, is coming from Trump's own lawyer's notes, M. Evan Corcoran. And in the indictment, it says he pressured Corcoran to thwart investigators, even suggested lying to them. So you're saying looking at this, maybe keeping it out of court?

KRISSOFF: That's right. I think they can sort of - they can look at challenging that underlying ruling by the judge, allowing that evidence to be used here. And I think, frankly, that argument has some sort of public appeal as well. It matches the rhetoric we're hearing from Trump's camp about, you know, selective prosecution and the inappropriateness of this type of prosecution. So I think it has some appeal to protect those communications with Trump's lawyer, although there is set forth in the law a very clear exception to allow for those types of materials in certain instances to be utilized in an investigation. But I think it has both legal and rhetorical appeal, frankly.

FADEL: How difficult is this case going to be to be a defense attorney? And I mean, Donald Trump's a former president. He dominates the news. He's, for many people, a love-him-or-hate-him type of person. Is it possible to find an impartial jury in such a polarizing case?

KRISSOFF: I do think it's possible. You know, we do have a history of putting people on trial who are notorious. This is not the first time it has happened. This might be the most notorious defendant, but not the first. And so I think with the proper questioning of the jury - it's going to take a lot of work to make sure that the jurors are folks that have an open mind, that they're going to evaluate the case based on the evidence before them and not anything they've heard before from the press, from their friends. But I think it is possible to seat a jury that can do that.

FADEL: Now, Trump was represented in court yesterday by Christopher Kise and Todd Blanche after two other attorneys quit the case this week. There were reports of him scrambling to find a Florida lawyer before his appearance. Is this kind of defense lawyer shuffle common?

KRISSOFF: You know, well, Trump himself has a long history of moving through lawyers and discarding lawyers. That - getting a team together to represent him here I think is going to be a challenge. He needs to get folks who are, you know, experienced in the espionage cases, experienced in public corruption cases, and also familiar with the court in the Southern District of Florida. So he - and, you know, his field is somewhat limited at this point because he's already utilized a lot of lawyers. And frankly, there's a lot of lawyers who probably aren't interested in taking the case.

FADEL: Sarah Krissoff is a defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. Thank you so much for your time and your insights.

KRISSOFF: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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