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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Clueless: Trump's Lawyers Are Lost in the Weeds of His High-Profile Cases

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on August 22, 2023

An Editorial Opinion

On August 18, 2023, I published an article titled, “Trump’s Criminal Defense Team is Running a Clown Show.”

After watching the events of this week, I have determined that Trump’s criminal defense lawyers are completely clueless on how to defend the former president in his four high-profile cases. They are simply lost in the weeds.

The only area where Trump’s lawyers appear to excel is in billing him for legal fees. According to published media reports, Trump and Super PACs aligned with him have paid these lawyers over $40 million.

I do not think Donald Trump has any confidence in his criminal defense teams. It shows by the look on Trump's face.

My Unique Vantage Point in Watching Donald Trump Fight for His Life

I have a very unique vantage point in watching Donald Trump fight for his life. Trump must defeat 91 felony counts, including a RICO charge under Georgia law, in four jurisdictions.

Three seasoned prosecutors have Donald Trump outgunned and pinned down in a quadrangulated legal fight.

I don’t pay attention to the talking head lawyers on cable TV because they are either former federal prosecutors or criminal defense lawyers who have NEVER tried and won a high-profile, complex criminal case of this nature. These TV talking head lawyers are clueless, as well.

As my readers know, I currently hold the record in American jurisprudence for defeating federal prosecutors on 85 felony counts in the case of U.S. v. Richard Scrushy. The Scrushy case is featured in the May 11, 2020, "King Richard" episode of the Netflix "Trial by Media" documentary series.

On November 4, 2003, the Department of Justice indicted Richard Scrushy, the former CEO of HealthSouth, on 85 felony counts of Sarbanes Oxley offenses and related charges. If convicted on all charges, Scrushy faced 650 years in prison.

In the span of 13 months from his indictment, my handpicked criminal defense team prepared for a trial that lasted six months. We viewed the case as a rescue mission that required special ops.

Sixteen HealthSouth executive were charged in the HealthSouth case. Fourteen of them pled guilty and testified against Scrushy, including all five of the company’s chief financial officers since it was founded.

On June 28, 2005, Richard Scrushy walked out of the federal courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama as a free man. Over a 19-month period, we prepared for trial, tried the case for six months, and defeated federal prosecutors on all 85 original counts.

This winning record remains unbroken today.

The July 25, 2005, edition of Fortune Magazine profiled the case in a feature article titled, “Donald Watkins: The Man Who Saved Richard Scrushy.” I was labeled the “real legal mastermind of the case” in a front page article in the February 2, 2005, edition of the Wall Street Journal. The Scrushy case was also featured on “60 Minutes."


Today, I can see that my national record of defeating 85 felony counts against a single defendant will not be broken by Donald Trump’s criminal defense lawyers. There is no combination of skill and luck that will allow these lawyers to defeat three sets of federal and state prosecutors on 91 felony charges.

I can also see that Donald Trump’s only pathway out of his legal nightmare is to win the presidency in 2024. A stunning victory on election night in November 2024 is the only way Trump can make it to the other side of midnight in his criminal cases.

This is a “do or die” presidential election for Donald Trump. There is no plea deal for Trump. He must win an acquittal on all 91 felony counts!

If Donald Trump is convicted on any of the 91 felony counts against him, he will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment that amounts to a death sentence. And, Trump will likely die in the “Valachi Suite” at FCI La Tuna near El Paso, Texas.

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02 jun


you aren't the only one with this perspective

“I’m going to predict that the first thing Trump does is fire his lawyers, which he should have done before the trial rather than after the trial,” Dershowitz said. “His lawyers did not do a good job. And what worries me, as an appellate lawyer, is that they didn’t do a good job preserving the record for appeal. They focused exclusively on the trial, which is what many trial lawyers erroneously do.

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