Trump ousts top attorney from legal team hours before Georgia arrest

Donald Trump has ousted the top attorney in his legal team just hours before he is due to surrender for arrest in Georgia, according to a report.

Sources told CNN that the former president has replaced lawyer Drew Findling with Atlanta-based attorney Steven Sadow – who is described as “special counsel for white collar and high profile defense” on his website.

The reasons for the 11th hours shake-up are currently unclear but the source said that it was not a slight on Mr Findling’s legal performance.

Meanwhile, another source told the network that Mr Sadow is “best criminal defence attorney in Georgia”.

Mr Findling was hired last year to lead Mr Trump’s defence team during the investigation into hsi election interference in the state of Georgia.

But, in recent weeks, his past criticism of the former president has come to light.

The attorney is a self-proclaimed liberal who in 2020 donated to the campaign of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis – the woman now prosecuting Mr Trump and his closest allies in the RICO case.

Back in 2017, he also publicly criticised Mr Trump in multiple social media posts including calling Mr Trump’s stance on the Central Park Five “racist, cruel, sick, unforgivable, and un-American”.

Mr Trump is expected to surrender to authorities in Georgia on Thursday evening to be arrested on charges of attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state by running a criminal enterprise to stay in power at all costs.

The former president announced that he will turn himself in to Fulton County authorities on Thursday where he is expected to have his mugshot taken – a historic moment marking the first time that a current or former president has ever appeared in a booking photo.

Bond has been set for Mr Trump at $200,000.

Sources told The Guardian that he has arranged for his arrest to take place during primetime so that he can maximise on the nation’s attention.

Several of Mr Trump’s 18 codefendants in the case – including former Mr Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell – have already surrendered with their humiliating mugshots being released.

All 19 of the defendants were charged with violating Georgia’s RICO statute.

The indictment accuses Mr Trump and his allies of orchestrating and running a criminal enterprise in Fulton County, Georgia, and elsewhere, to “accomplish the illegal goal of allowing Donald J. Trump to seize the presidential term of office, beginning on January 20, 2021”.

A viewer watches former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's interview by Tucker Carlson on the platform 'X' on their phone in Miami, Florida, USA (EPA)
A viewer watches former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's interview by Tucker Carlson on the platform 'X' on their phone in Miami, Florida, USA (EPA)

“This criminal organization constituted an enterprise as that term is defined in O.C.G.A. § l6-14-3(3), that is, a group of individuals associated in fact. The Defendants and other members and associates of the enterprise had connections and relationships with one another and with the enterprise,” it reads.

The criminal organisation’s members and associates “engaged in various related criminal activities including, but not limited to, false statements and writings, impersonating a public officer, forgery, filing false documents, influencing witnesses, computer theft, computer trespass, computer invasion of privacy, conspiracy to defraud the state, acts involving theft, and perjury”.

The other co-defendants are former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, “Kraken” lawyer Sidney Powell, attorneys John Eastman, Kenneth Cheseboro, Jenna Ellis, Ray Smith III, and Robert Cheeley, former US Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark, former Trump campaign official Michael Roman, former state senator and the former chair of the Georgia Republican Party David Schafer, Georgia state senator Shawn Still, Lutheran pastor Stephen Lee, mixed martial artist Harrison Floyd, Kanye West’s former PR Trevian Kutti, former head of the Republican Party in Coffee County Cathleen Latham, Atlanta-area bail bondsman Scott Hall, and former election supervisor of Coffee County Misty Hampton.

DA Willis has spent more than two years investigating efforts by Mr Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election result in the crucial swing state.

Rudy Giuliani pictured in mugshot (EPA)
Rudy Giuliani pictured in mugshot (EPA)

The investigation came following the release of a 2 January 2021 phone call Mr Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where he told him to “find” enough votes to change the outcome of the election in the state.

“All I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Mr Trump is heard saying in the leaked phone call. “Because we won the state.”

Mr Biden won the state by less than 12,000 votes.

The investigation then expanded from that phone call to include a scheme whereby a group of fake Republican electors planned to falsely certify the results in Mr Trump’s favour instead of Mr Biden’s. The plot failed and the fake electors have since reached immunity deals with DA Willis’ office.

Ms Willis said she would like to try the defendants altogether and within the next six months.

In total, the former president is now facing 91 charges from four separate criminal cases.

On 1 August, he was hit with a federal indictment charging him with four counts over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the events leading up to the January 6 Capitol riot, following an investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith’s office.

This came after Mr Smith’s office charged Mr Trump in a separate indictment over his alleged mishandling of classified documents on leaving office.

Back in April, Mr Trump was charged for the first time with New York state charges following an investigation into hush money payments made prior to the 2016 election.