Earlier this evening it was revealed that Paul Manafort had swapped out his entire legal team in the wake of the Special Counsel-led FBI raid of his home. It initially sounded as if Manafort had fired his attorneys in favor of hiring all new ones, in what would be a startling enough move. But based on new information, it appears that Manafort didn’t fire his attorneys; they fired him.
The commotion began when multiple news outlets reported that Paul Manafort had changed legal teams (link). But then Mike Warren of the Weekly Standard shared this information: “I am told Manafort did not fire WilmerHale.” (link). This led MSNBC host Chris Hayes to ask the nearly rhetorical question that we were all thinking: “Meaning they let *him* go?”
There still isn’t any official confirmation yet that Paul Manafort’s attorneys really did fire him. But if he didn’t fire WilmerHale, there’s no other logical explanation for why they’re longer representing him. So if they did fire him, it significantly alters the narrative, because there are only a handful of explanations as to why a law firm would fire a client at such a pivotal time. One would be if they weren’t getting paid. But Manafort was able to turn around and hire another prestigious high priced law firm, so this doesn’t appear to be about money.
The most common remaining reason a law firm would fire a client: he lied to them about something crucial, they finally caught him in that lie, and they’ve concluded that they can no longer represent him for fear that it would create legal liability for themselves. So as we wait for the other shoe to drop in this particular story, we’re now looking at the very real possibility that Paul Manafort has screwed himself so badly, even his attorneys are afraid of how ugly it’s about to get. Keep in mind that the Special Counsel is pursuing Manafort specifically to get him to flip on Donald Trump.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report