Former President Donald Trump has replaced his top Georgia attorney ahead of his capitulation Thursday evening, sources tell CNN.
Drew Findling has been replaced by Steven Sato, an Atlanta-based attorney whose website profile describes him as “special counsel for white-collar and high-profile defense.” Challenged Trump and 18 of his co-defendants were charged under the state’s broader RICO statute.
Sato filed papers Thursday morning to formally represent the former president in the case.
One Trump source indicated it wasn’t about Findling’s performance, while another familiar with Sadow called him “Georgia’s best criminal defense attorney.” Trump’s other Georgia lawyer, Jennifer Little, is expected to remain on the legal team and work with Sadow.
“I have represented President Trump in the Fulton County, Georgia case. The President should never have been impeached. “He is innocent of all the charges against him,” Sato said in a statement. “We look forward to the case being dismissed or, if necessary, a neutral, open-minded jury finding the President not guilty. Cases aimed at advancing or serving the ambitions and career of the President’s political opponents have no place in our justice system.
In 2021, Sadow criticized the RICO charges as a way for prosecutors to introduce inadmissible evidence during interviews about potential charges Trump could face in Georgia.
Sato represented rapper Gunna in a separate RICO case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis last year, which accused the rapper, real name Sergio Kitchens, of participating in criminal street gang activity. In December, there were Kitchens Published After reaching a plea agreement that resulted in community service.
The sudden change in legal representation came after Trump appointed Findling, a prominent criminal defense attorney, to handle the Fulton County case in August 2022. Fineling made several aggressive — and ultimately unsuccessful — attempts to have the evidence thrown out in the case. Willis was disqualified before the charges against Trump were announced.
But Feinling and Trump also drew headlines for their unlikely partnership. Findling is a self-proclaimed liberal whose social media posts critical of Trump quickly drew media attention. The Atlanta-area attorney, who earned the moniker #BillionDollarLawyer from a previous client, is better known for representing hip-hop stars like Gucci Mane and Cardi B than high-profile conservatives like Trump.
Fineling could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Days before Trump reshuffled his legal team, Findling and his partner Marissa Goldberg, along with Little, met with Willis to offer Trump a $200,000 bond. When Trump turns himself in at the Fulton County Jail Thursday evening, Trump’s release bond and other pre-negotiated conditions will allow him to be processed quickly.
Trump is set to face more than a dozen charges stemming from an attempt to alter Georgia’s 2020 election results, marking the fourth time this year that the former president has faced criminal charges. In Georgia, Willis, a self-proclaimed “fan” of RICO, is using the statute to charge Trump and his co-defendants with false statements, filing false documents and forgeries, impersonating officials, computer breaches and a variety of other conduct. Attempt to influence witnesses.
Trump has not hesitated to shake up his legal team in other cases. In June, he fired two top lawyers representing him in a federal indictment over alleged mishandling of classified documents.
This story has been updated with additional details.
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