“In my opinion, he was not very honest with us or the client about certain things,” Parlatore said of Epshteyn.
Trump’s campaign disputed his former lawyer’s claims. “Mr Parlatore is no longer a member of the legal team. His statements about current members of the legal team are unfounded and categorically false,” a spokesman said.
Parlatore’s departure was first announced Wednesday by CNN. “It’s personal and it has nothing to do with my belief in the strength of the case,” he told POLITICO later that morning.
The withdrawal of the former naval officer with a reputation for defending high-profile clients comes as special counsel Jack Smith appears to be in the final stretch of investigations into the possible mishandling of classified documents and efforts to overturn the findings of the 2020 presidential election by Trump.
In August 2022, the FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for classified documents and retrieved boxes of material, some of which contained documents marked as classified. The search followed efforts by the National Archives and Records Administration to retrieve material Trump took with him when he left office in January 2021.
That search has not only raised questions involving document retention by other political leaders, including President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence, but has also raised questions about what, if anything, a former president can legally do about to store classified material.
“When we left Washington, we had the boxes lined up on the sidewalk outside for everybody,” Trump said at a New Hampshire town hall earlier this month. “People take pictures of them. Everyone knew we took those boxes.”
The former president also told moderator Kaitlan Collins, “By the way, they’re automatically declassified when I took them,” a point about which there is considerable disagreement.
Epshteyn, a former political commentator for Sinclair Broadcast Group, has worked for Trump in various capacities over the years, including as an adviser to Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns, as well as serving on the presidential nominating committee for the 2017 inauguration.