"We have to be very careful": Trump at odds with his own lead lawyer over judge's recusal

“Sometimes clients follow our suggestions, sometimes they don't," attorney John Lauro said in an interview

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published August 8, 2023 11:47AM (EDT)

Defense attorney John Lauro (Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
Defense attorney John Lauro (Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump claimed he would be seeking the recusal of U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan — the federal judge overseeing his election conspiracy case — in a recent Truth Social post, but his latest lawyer seemed to indicate that the legal team has no such immediate plans. "THERE IS NO WAY I CAN GET A FAIR TRIAL WITH THE JUDGE 'ASSIGNED' TO THE RIDICULOUS FREEDOM OF SPEECH/FAIR ELECTIONS CASE," Trump wrote on Truth Social on Sunday. "EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS, AND SO DOES SHE! WE WILL BE IMMEDIATELY ASKING FOR RECUSAL OF THIS JUDGE ON VERY POWERFUL GROUNDS, AND LIKEWISE FOR VENUE CHANGE, OUT IF D.C. [sic]"

Not long after, however, Trump attorney John Lauro claimed that the former president had merely been speaking with "a layman's political sense," expressing frustration that Chutkan had been nominated to the bench by former President Barack Obama. "We haven't made a final decision on that issue at all," Lauro said on a podcast hosted by David Markus, a Florida attorney who previously turned down Trump as a client. "I think as lawyers we have to be very careful of those issues and handle them with the utmost delicacy," Lauro continued. "I think it's a little bit different than our standard case where we would pull our hair out if a client commented on a prosecutor or a judge. He feels strongly that he needs to speak out, and he also, in particular, looks at this prosecution as a political prosecution. I think, in his mind, it's sort of fair game from a political perspective to make these comments."

"I have a responsibility, certainly, as an officer of the court to conduct the proceedings in a dignified manner, and I will do that at all times," Lauro added. "To the extent that I can make any appropriate suggestions to a client, I do. But as we know, David, sometimes clients follow our suggestions, sometimes they don't."