Former President Donald Trump has engaged a leading Florida lawyer to handle his defense in the FBI raid case. In the wake of the Aug. 8 FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago, Trump has struggled to recruit top lawyers to join his legal team. Chris Kise, a former state solicitor general, decided to accept the position.
In the Southern District of Florida, many criminal defense lawyers said they were unable to represent the former president due to his controversial status. Attorney and law experts familiar with the legal effort have stressed that representing Trump could be a tedious job. His reputation as a problematic client with a track record of having rival advisers stab each other in the back was also cited as a reason why other lawyers declined to represent him.
Kise allegedly started negotiations with Trump shortly after the Palm Beach estate was raided by the FBI on Aug. 8. Now he is quitting Foley & Lardner in order to take the job. At Foley & Lardner, Kise briefly represented the Venezuelan government in 2015, when hostilities with the U.S. were high. Recently, the firm decided to remove Kise from its webpage listing and now he lists his biography on his own web site, said NBC News.
Kise won as many as four cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and multiple cases in the Florida Supreme Court. While working on the transition team for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, he released damaging information regarding Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum in the final days of the 2018 election. The attorney laid out some text messages revealing that an undercover FBI agent had given free “Hamilton” tickets to Gillum, which was a violation of Florida ethics laws by Andrew Gillum.
Brian Ballard, Trump’s fundraiser, who is friends with Kise, said the lawyer possesses the type of wide-ranging experience that Trump needs. Brian Ballard, who is also a leading lobbyist and fundraiser for Ron DeSantis, declared to NBC News that “Chris is not only my friend, he is one of the best lawyers I have ever met. His unique experience is perfectly suited to help [former] President Trump.” Ballard was also one of the top fundraisers in 2006 for the current political opponent of Ron DeSantis, Charlie Crist, who is now a member of the Democratic Party and a member of the U.S. House.
Once Crist left office, Kise advised the transition team for his successor, Rick Scott, and then advised DeSantis’ transition after Scott’s departure. “Chris is a 360-degree lawyer: appellate, civil, criminal, state and federal — he can do it all,” said former Florida Sen. George LeMieux. LeMieux was then-Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist’s chief of staff in 2003. The office designated Kise as the state’s solicitor general.
As requested by a judge, the Justice Department provided a more detailed list of items seized from Donald Trump’s home. In the latest court filing, federal prosecutors reported that a review team discovered “a limited set of documents” that may potentially be subject to privilege.