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Top Trump lawyer Parlatore leaves former president's legal team amid special counsel's documents probe

Tim Parlatore was a staunch defender of the former president, calling the special counsel investigation into Trump’s retention of classified documents “improper.”
Attorney Tim Parlatore in San Diego, Calif., on July 2, 2019.
Attorney Tim Parlatore in San Diego in 2019.Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images file

Timothy Parlatore, a key lawyer representing Donald Trump in a special counsel investigation of his handling of classified documents, said Wednesday that he is leaving the former president’s legal team.

Parlatore had been a staunch defender of Trump, calling special counsel Jack Smith's investigation into the former president's retention of classified documents "improper." In a statement announcing his departure, Parlatore repeated his criticism of the investigation.

“It has been an honor to be a member of this legal team over the past year, and to litigate some very interesting issues,” Parlatore said in a statement. “Although I have decided to move on, I believe very strongly in the merits of the case, and the DOJ is acting improperly.”

CNN first reported the news of Parlatore's departure. A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment on Parlatore's criticisms of the investigation.

Last year, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith, a former federal prosecutor, as special counsel investigating Trump's handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida and his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by his supporters. Smith pledged to conduct an "independent" investigation.

Parlatore had voluntarily testified before a federal grand jury investigating Trump's handling of classified documents. Then, he answered questions about the search for classified documents he conducted at a number of Trump properties late last year.

Parlatore said he was acting as “custodian of records” for Trump. He organized searches for documents at Trump Tower in New York, Trump’s property in Bedminster, New Jersey, and three locations in Florida — Mar-a-Lago, an office in Palm Beach and a storage unit. The search yielded additional documents with classification markings at the storage unit and at Mar-a-Lago.

In Parlatore's testimony, he accused the Justice Department of “prosecutorial misconduct," saying it tried to stop him from discussing his efforts to include the FBI in the search and pressed him to detail conversations protected by attorney-client privilege.