June 16 (Reuters) – A lawyer who resigned last week from defending Donald Trump in the criminal case over his handling of classified documents said in a court filing Friday that “irreconcilable differences” have left him unable to represent the former president in an unrelated defamation lawsuit against CNN.
Jim Trusty, a former US Justice Department official, filed a notice in Florida federal court asking a judge for approval to withdraw from the CNN case. Trusty said he “can no longer effectively and properly represent” the former president.
Trusty did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for Trump thanked Trusty for his work on the case and said the lawsuit was “entering a new phase.”
The filing underscores tensions within Trump’s circle of lawyers, which for months has been rife with reports of infighting as the former president struggled unsuccessfully to stay off a federal indictment over his handling of sensitive documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
Trusty had been one of the lead lawyers on the team in the months prior to the indictment by US Special Counsel Jack Smith. He abruptly resigned with another lawyer, John Rowley, the day the indictment was unsealed on June 9, calling it a “logical” time for the two Washington-DC-based lawyers to leave the case.
Two other lawyers who were already representing Trump in other matters, Todd Blanche and Chris Kise, have now taken the lead in Trump’s defense in the documents case.
The lawsuit against CNN, filed last October, accuses the cable news network of defaming Trump by using the phrase “the big lie” to describe his false claims about the 2020 US presidential election. CNN has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit, calling it an attempt to silence criticism of the former president.
Trusty wrote in his withdrawal notice that his departure would not hinder the progress of the case. Lindsey Halligan, who has also worked on the investigation documents, will continue to represent Trump, Trusty said.
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