Despite Trump’s current laughable lawyers, his DOJ could be staffed with skilled radicals

Attorney Alina Habba has been widely mocked for her courtroom blunders and behavior as she defends Donald Trump in the business fraud lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James and in E. Jean Carroll’s second defamation trial against the accused rapist.

Former federal prosecutor Ron Filipkowski, who is now editor in chief of the liberal Meidas Touch, had this post on X, formerly known as Twitter:

I’m gonna say you can watch My Cousin Vinny and Legally Blonde back-to-back and you’d be ready to do a better trial than Habba.

— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) January 18, 2024

And “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert said in a monologue earlier this month, “Habba is, to use a bit of legalese, a bad lawyer,” HuffPost reported. He then played a clip from a podcast interview in which Habba, a former fashion executive, said she’d “rather be pretty than smart.” She then added she “can fake being smart.” 

But as Trump has become the first candidate to run a presidential campaign out of a courtroom, Habba has taken on a prominent role in MAGA world by playing the Trump victimization card in numerous interviews on courthouse steps, on Fox News, and other conservative news outlets.

RELATED STORY: How the next Trump-inspired insurrection could unfold and how the administration could respond

And while Trump’s immunity claims may seem a joke, there’s nothing funny regarding the attorney who handled Trump’s appeal seeking immunity from charges brought by special counsel Jack Smith that he conspired to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. The three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is widely expected to reject Trump’s immunity claim.

As Trump sat watching in the courtroom, his attorney, D. John Sauer, in response to questioning from the judges, suggested that even a president directing SEAL Team 6 to kill a political rival would be an action barred from criminal prosecution unless the president was first impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate.

Mother Jones wrote that “it’s hard to overstate the terrifying absurdity of the argument.” But in  social media posts, candidate Trump has argued that presidents deserve complete immunity from prosecution even for acts that “cross the line.” The Atlantic wrote that “Today’s legal argument could very well be next year’s exercise of presidential power.”

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich went even further, stating that “Sauer was arguing for the equivalent of the 1933 Enabling Law in Germany,” which facilitated Adolf Hitler’s success in moving the country from democracy to fascism. That law—approved by the German Parliament in March 1933—gave the new chancellor, Hitler, the power to enact new laws without interference from the president or the parliament for four years.

What’s scary is that unlike Habba, Sauer has a blue-chip legal background. He was a Rhodes scholar and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk to federal appellate court Judge J. Michael Luttig and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

In 2017, then-Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley appointed Sauer to serve as the state’s solicitor general and he continued to serve in that post under Hawley’s successor, Eric Schmitt, who also was elected to the U.S. Senate. The New York Times wrote:

As Missouri’s solicitor general, Mr. Sauer took part in a last-ditch effort to keep Mr. Trump in power after his defeat in the 2020 election, filing a motion on behalf of his state and five others in support of an attempt by Texas to have the Supreme Court toss out the results of the vote count in several key swing states.

He also joined in an unsuccessful bid with Texas in asking the Supreme Court to stop the Biden administration from rescinding a Trump-era immigration program that forces certain asylum seekers arriving at the southwestern border to await approval in Mexico.

Sauer left the solicitor general’s post in January 2023. He served as a special assistant attorney general for Louisiana’s Department of Justice in a First Amendment lawsuit against Biden administration officials over their contacts with social media platforms about “misinformation.” 

So could Sauer be another politically ambitious conservative lawyer with an Ivy League law degree looking to make an impression on Trump in hopes of securing a top position at the Department of Justice in a second Trump administration? It’s hard to know for sure, as Sauer keeps a low public profile outside the courtroom and shuns media interviews. But it sounds like he would fit right in, according to a November New York Times article on the subject:

Close allies of Donald J. Trump are preparing to populate a new administration with a more aggressive breed of right-wing lawyer, dispensing with traditional conservatives who they believe stymied his agenda in his first term.

The allies have been drawing up lists of lawyers they view as ideologically and temperamentally suited to serve in a second Trump administration. Their aim is to reduce the chances that politically appointed lawyers would frustrate a more radical White House agenda — as they sometimes did when Mr. Trump was in office, by raising objections to his desires for certain harsher immigration policies or for greater personal control over the Justice Department, among others.

The Times said Trump has even become disenchanted with the Federalist Society, the conservative legal network whose members filled key executive branch legal positions when he was last in office. Trump was particularly enraged at White House and Justice Department legal officials who blocked his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

John Mitnick, who was fired by Trump as general counsel of the Homeland Security Department in 2019, told the Times that “no qualified attorneys with integrity will have any desire to serve as political appointees” in a second Trump term.

The Guardian reported that Trump’s former senior adviser Stephen Miller, known for his draconian immigration policy, “is playing a key role in seeking lawyers fully in sync with Trump’s radical agenda to expand his power and curb some major agencies.” The Guardian wrote:

His search is for those with unswerving loyalty to Trump, who could back Trump’s increasingly authoritarian talk about plans to “weaponize” the DoJ against critics, including some he has labeled as “vermin.”

Miller, who is not a lawyer, is president of the MAGA-allied group America First Legal, which has been filing lawsuits against the Biden administration. Miller also sits on the board of Project 2025, an effort led by the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups to map authoritarian policy plans for a second Trump administration.

And that brings us to who Trump might choose for attorney general if he makes his way back to the Oval Office. Back in November, former Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a member of the House Jan. 6 Select Committee, warned in an episode of The Bulwark podcast:

“If he does get through and he wins this time, he's going to interview 100 candidates for attorney general and only take the one that says, 'Mr. President, in essence, I don't care what the Constitution is. I'm going to do whatever you want as your servant at the Department of Justice.'"

And the scary thing is that there is one lawyer who is media savvy, has a blue-chip legal resume, and is a total right-wing monster. His name is Mike Davis.

Tim Miller, a former Republican National Committee spokesperson and Never Trumper, wrote about an interview Davis gave to conservative political commentator Benny Johnson in which Davis discussed what he would do if he were “acting attorney general” for a few weeks in a new Trump term:

But during my three week reign of terror as Trump acting attorney general, before I get chased out of town with my Trump pardon, I will rain hell on Washington, D.C. ... I have five lists, ready to go and they’re growing.

List number one, we’re gonna fire. We’re gonna fire a lot of people in the executive branch, in the deep state.

Number two, we’re gonna indict. We’re gonna indict Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and James Biden and every other scumball, sleazeball, Biden, except for the five year old granddaughter who they refused to acknowledge for five years until the political pressure got to Joe Biden.

Number three, we’re gonna deport. We’re gonna deport a lot of people, 10 million people and growing—anchor babies, their parents, their grandparents. We’re gonna put kids in cages. It’s gonna be glorious. We’re gonna detain a lot of people in the D.C. gulag and Gitmo.

And list number five, I’m gonna recommend a lot of pardons. Every January 6th defendant is gonna get a pardon, especially my hero horn man. He is definitely at the top of the pardon list.

“This is almost comically pathetic chest-beating of a creepy dork,” says Hayes on far-right lawyer Mike Davis. “But again the history of fascism is full of creepy dorks who…used the power of the state to execute their most despicable, violent fantasies.”

— IT’S TIME FOR JUSTICE (@LiddleSavages) November 22, 2023

In an article for The Bulwark, Miller wrote:

Davis has become an influential voice in MAGA media and activist circles—understandably so, given his crossover appeal as someone who combines legitimate bona fides as a GOP staffer with the incendiary, burn-it-all-down rhetoric that the MAGA base laps up.

And should, God forbid, Trump win a second term, Davis will be emblematic of the type of person who will staff the government. …

Davis’s current gig is spearheading activist groups that fight for right-wing judicial appointments and oppose “Big Tech.” In this role he makes frequent appearances on right-wing media outlets, including primetime Fox and its MAGA competitors (think Real America’s Voice, Newsmax, Bannon’s War Room), where he preaches the Gospel of Trump on issues ranging from the former president’s many indictments to the Biden impeachment.

Davis has an extensive biography on the Federalist Society website. But Miller also exposed Davis’ dark side, including a rant on X about the “violent black underclass” who are “monsters” and should be subjected to “mass incarceration.” He wrote:

Racist demagoguery. Conspiratorial thinking. Promises for retribution against enemies. This is Trump’s stated agenda for 2024. And people like Mike Davis stand ready and willing to execute it.

Davis now heads the Article III Project, which has run ads defending Trump against his four criminal indictments with messages mirroring Trump’s comments that he is a victim of politically motivated prosecutions.

One 60-second digital ad says, “Activist prosecutors and judges have destroyed the rule of law, the scales of justice forever broken and imbalanced. The worst offenders? Those who have weaponized the legal system for political gain against President Trump. Even now they’re resorting to insane legal theories to take him off the ballot,” the ad continues. “They’ve gone after a president of the United States. Do you think they’ll stop there?”

In November, Mehdi Hasan presented an in-depth report on the dangers posed by Davis on MSNBC.

Davis responded to the report and Miller’s Bulwark article with this tasteless post on X that included a homophobic slur. 

😂 Trump’s Dream Team.@mehdirhasan is now on my Lists 2 (indict), 4 (detain), 6 (denaturalize), and 3 (deport). I already have his spot picked out in the DC gulag. But I’ll put him in the women’s cell block, with @Timodc. So these whiny leftists don’t get beat up as often.

— 🇺🇸 Mike Davis 🇺🇸 (@mrddmia) November 20, 2023

And here’s the kicker: Donald Trump Jr. actually said on his online show “Triggered” in November that he’d actually like to see Davis as attorney general, even on an interim basis, “just to send that shot across the bow of the swamp.”

Donald Trump Jr. says he wants Laura Loomer as White House press secretary and Mike Davis as attorney general; Loomer has described herself as “pro-white nationalism,” Davis says that he wants to enact a “reign of terror” targeting Trump’s enemies.

— Media Matters (@mmfa) November 10, 2023

RELATED STORY: Republicans actually published a blueprint for dismantling our democracy. It's called Project 2025

Campaign Action

Sunday Four-Play: Trump’s lawyers try to spin their incorrigible client’s latest indictment

Well, it’s indictment week. Again. And that must mean it’s time for Sunday Four-Play—a new-ish feature in which we shine a spotlight on some of the Sunday show hijinks.

In last week’s installment, we talked about Donald Trump’s latest indictment. This week, we’ll be talking about Donald Trump’s latest indictment. Next week: An exclusive four-part interview with the first Kardashian to show up at my door with an ounce of OG Kush and a Hefty bag full of crullers. Unless Donald Trump is indicted again—but that’s just common sense.

So before this is all over, will we see more Trump indictment weeks or Trump infrastructure weeks? In other words, is Trump more dangerously criminal or dangerously incompetent? You make the call.

The hits keep coming, and Trump’s not doing himself any favors by continuing to post on social media with all the forbearance and dignity of a howler monkey with his balls caught in a saltwater taffy machine. He really needs to call his old cybersecurity adviser Rudy Giuliani and ask him how to get locked out of his own phone

But remember. They’re not coming after Trump, they’re coming after you. He’s just in the way. Like one of those impenetrable southern border wall sections you can cut through in six minutes with a pair of Play-Doh Fun Factory scissors and a Bic lighter. 

So let’s take a quick peep at all the witchy witch hunts and election interference and whatnot, shall we?


John Lauro is one of the folks Donald Trump hired to represent him after Barry Zuckerkorn refused to take his calls. He’s already—somewhat hilariously—acknowledged Trump’s guilt in one of the charges brought against him. And he did it on national TV, because Trump isn’t trying to hide anything! Even those things that could land him in prison, with limited conjugal visits from whoever’s spanking him with Forbes magazine these days. 

Lauro appeared on “Meet the Press” with host Chuck Todd, who is leaving the show in September. (Not strictly relevant, I know; it just makes me happy.)

Judging from Lauro’s response, it’s fair to question whether he has any control over his client at all. The more Trump talks, the quaggier his legal quagmire gets. We should consider sending him an Adderall gift basket to hasten his trip to the exercise languidly-sitting-in-a-puddle-of-one’s-own-McRib-filth yard. 

WATCH: Fmr. Pres. Trump attacked Special Counsel Jack Smith, saying he's "deranged."@chucktodd: "Do innocent people attack prosectors?" Trump lawyer John Lauro: "My role is not to address anything about prosectors."

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) August 6, 2023

TRUMP (CLIP): “Deranged Jack Smith, he’s a deranged human being. You take a look at that face you say, ‘That guy is a sick man, there’s something wrong with him.’”

TODD: “Do you believe he’s deranged?”

LAURO: “President Biden in April of 2022 said he wanted President Trump prosecuted, and he wanted him out of the race. He repeated that in November of 2022. As a result, President Biden has put in motion a political prosecution in the middle of an election season, and obviously everything is open to politics. I’m not involved in politics, I’m just representing a client. I’m ensuring that justice is done in this case. President Trump is entitled to his day in court, and he’ll get it.”

TODD: “Do innocent people attack prosecutors?”

LAURO: “This is a political campaign right now. This prosecution was instituted by President Biden, and in the middle of that campaign, people are going to speak out. My role is not to address anything about prosecutors, but I will say this: There has been a history in the Justice Department of rogue prosecutions. They went after Arthur Andersen, a major accounting firm. Destroyed the company, and the DOJ lost 9-0. They went after the former governor of Virginia in a prosecution—a Republican governor who was convicted unfairly. Reversed 9-0. And now the Justice Department, the Biden Justice Department, is going after a former president for acts that he carried out in fulfillment of his oath and president of the United States.”

You know, when Lauro claimed President Biden said he wanted Trump prosecuted and out of the race, I thought to myself, “Hmm, that doesn’t sound anything like Biden. It sure sounds like something Trump would say, though.”

Well, I was right. And since this claim is at the heart of the Trump team’s public defense of their client—i.e., that this is nothing but a political prosecution launched by Trump’s political opponent—it’s important to take this head-on.

First of all, Trump is the one who continually tried to weaponize the DOJ. He wanted the department to prosecute Hillary Clinton and former FBI director James Comey, whom he corruptly fired in an attempt to stop an investigation. He also tried to use the department to overturn the 2020 election. And he continually attacked former Attorney General Jeff Sessions after Sessions recused himself in the Russian investigation—because he wanted “his” DOJ to act as his personal Roy Cohn. Oh, and he recently said he would seek to prosecute President Biden if he’s reelected

But Biden? He understands the White House’s traditional hands-off posture toward the DOJ in a way that Trump never did. And he’s continually resisted overstepping his authority. 

So what is Lauro talking about here?

Well, in April 2022, according to media reports, Biden privately mentioned to his inner circle that he thought Trump was a threat to democracy and should be prosecuted, but he never mentioned this personal preference to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

And in November of last year, responding to a reporter’s question about how to reassure world leaders that the poo-flinging Putin puppet would never resume his tirade, Biden said, “Well, we just have to demonstrate that he will not take power by—if we—if he does run. I’m making sure he, under legitimate efforts of our Constitution, does not become the next president again.” 

In other words, he’s going to campaign against him.

But hey, why let facts and context get in the way of a fun narrative!?


Oh, hey, Lauro was on “Face the Nation,” too! And “ABC This Week”! Not to mention “Fox News Sunday”! He may have appeared in hologram form on at least one of them. 

Here he was with CBS’ Major Garrett talking about the Trump team’s desire for a change of venue:

Trump lawyer John Lauro on CBS: "We would like a diverse venue, a diverse jury ... I think West Virginia will be an excellent venue to try this case. Close to DC and a much more diverse--"

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 6, 2023

GARRETT: “You’re still going to pursue a change of venue?”

LAURO: “Absolutely. We would like a diverse venue, a diverse jury ...”

GARRETT: “Do you have any expectation that will be granted?”

LAURO: “… that reflects the characteristics of the American people. It’s up to the judge. I think West Virginia would be an excellent venue to try this case.”

Yes, the famously diverse state of West Virginia, whose residents represent every color of the rainbow, from alabaster to ecru. Its population is 92.8% white and 3.7% Black. Maybe we could make the jury even more diverse by drawing its members exclusively from meth-fueled brawls in Charleston Cracker Barrel parking lots.

Hey, here’s a tip: If you don’t want to be tried in Washington, D.C., don’t commit crimes in Washington, D.C. It works every time!


Alina Habba, another Trump attorney and apologist, appeared on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo. And this happened:

Habba: I think that realistically you have to remember that a lot of these cases deal with classified documents which mean that all the lawyers now have to apply for special clearance, right? You can’t just take a classified document and review it. You have to have scifs.

— Acyn (@Acyn) August 6, 2023

BARTIROMO: “Let me ask you this, because typically when you have a case as complicated as the one we’re talking about, there is deposition, there is discovery—a whole discovery process where Trump’s lawyers will have to get access to the other side’s information, and vice versa. How long do you expect that process to take, because Jack Smith says he wants a speedy trial. We’re about a year away from an election. Obviously we’re just two weeks away from the first GOP primary debate, two months away from the Iowa Caucuses. Are you expecting to have a trial before election 2024?”

HABBA: “I think that that’s their goal. I think that realistically you have to remember that a lot of these cases deal with classified documents and classified records, which mean that all the lawyers now have to apply for special clearance, right? So it’s not a normal situation. You can’t just take a classified document and review it. You have to have SCIFs. You have to have certain procedures put in place. So while I appreciate Jack Smith trying to bleed us all dry and trying to have a speedy trial, perhaps he should have taken a case that didn’t involve classified documents that he now possesses, that we have to now repossess and review for discovery. It’s a poorly planned attack, frankly, because that’s what it is, it’s political lawfare, and he didn’t think it through. So I think these are going to take a lot longer. I think that once the judges get a [unintelligible] for how many years they’ve had this discovery—look at [Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney] Fani [Willis], two years. But she’s bringing this case now. Why? Because of election interference. They want to keep him tied up in trials, keep his lawyers tied up so that we’re distracted and not focused. It’s not going to work. He is a machine and he knows what he’s doing in a campaign. You know, he’s done this rodeo before.”

[Emphasis added]

Wait, Trump is a machine? Someone alert Mike Lindell!

Mike Lindell's speech announcing a class action lawsuit against all machines set over the Terminator 2 intro.

— Matthew Highton (@MattHighton) March 6, 2022

But never mind Pillow Man. Here’s the real takeaway: “You can’t just take a classified document and review it. You have to have SCIFs. You have to have certain procedures put in place.”

Say, Alina. Go back to the transcript and read that part over again. Then ask yourself if it was appropriate for Trump to (allegedly!) wave classified battle plans around in front of a gaggle of randos. This is an easy one. We’ll progress to the alphabet song in next week’s lesson—and colors and shapes, if there’s still time. 


Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead manager for Trump’s second impeachment, appeared on “Meet the Press” after Lauro spewed his pabulum all over Chuck Todd’s neatly pressed suit. 

It went a little something like this:

WATCH: Rep. Raskin (D-Md.) says Trump's lawyer claiming a "technical violation of the Constitution is not a violation of criminal law" is "deranged." "There are people who are in jail for several years for counterfeiting one vote. ... He tried to steal the entire election."

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) August 6, 2023

TODD: “Let me first start with a couple of things we heard from Mr. Lauro. You spent 25 years as a constitutional law professor, so I kind of want to get Professor Raskin’s take on this. Let me play one quick clip of something he said to me about the Constitution.”

LAURO (CLIP): “A technical violation of the Constitution is not a violation of criminal law. That’s just plain wrong.”

TODD: “Now, he added the word ‘criminal law’ there, but it was my understanding if you violated the Constitution, you’ve violated the law.”

RASKIN: “Well, first of all, a technical violation of the Constitution is a violation of the Constitution. The Constitution in six different places opposes insurrection. It makes that a grievous constitutional offense. So our Constitution is designed to stop people from trying to overthrow elections and trying to overthrow the government. But in any event, there’s a whole apparatus of criminal law which is in place to enforce this constitutional principle. That’s what Donald Trump is charged with violating. He conspired to defraud the American people out of our right to an honest election by substituting the real legal process we have under federal and state law with counterfeit electors. I mean, there are people who are in jail for several years for counterfeiting one vote, if they try to vote illegally once. He tried to steal the entire election, and his lawyer’s up there saying, oh, that’s just a matter of him expressing his First Amendment rights. That’s deranged. That is a deranged argument.”

Yes. Yes, it is. But with a client like this, a deranged argument is probably the best you can do, now isn’t it?

But wait! There’s more!

Some additional Sunday clips to help ease you into your week:

That’s all for now, friends. See you next week!

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.