Trump’s Trial Lawyer Gambled a Gilded Manhattan Career to Represent Him

Todd Blanche was a prosecutor and worked for a prestigious firm. Now, he is the principal lawyer for Donald Trump as he becomes the first former president to face prosecution.

Just over a year ago, Todd Blanche was a registered New York Democrat and a partner at Wall Street’s oldest law firm, where the nation’s corporate elite go for legal help. Now, he is a registered Florida Republican who runs his own firm, where the biggest client is a man both famous and infamous for his legal troubles: Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Blanche recently bought a home in Palm Beach County near Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. He brought his family to Mr. Trump’s campaign celebration there on Super Tuesday. And during Mr. Trump’s first criminal trial, set to begin in Manhattan on April 15, he will use space at 40 Wall Street, the former president’s office tower near the courthouse.

After a well-credentialed career as a federal prosecutor and a white-collar defense lawyer, Mr. Blanche, 49, has bet his professional future on representing Mr. Trump, the first former U.S. president to be indicted.

It was a striking career move — forfeiting a lucrative law firm partnership to represent a man notorious for cycling through lawyers and ignoring their bills — that has baffled Mr. Blanche’s former colleagues at the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York.

Many have privately questioned, at social events and in informal alumni gatherings, why he would upend his life and risk his reputation for Mr. Trump, whose refusal to acknowledge his loss in the 2020 election has become a chasm in the U.S. political and legal systems. Many prominent lawyers have refused to represent the former president, they note, and three of Mr. Trump’s former lawyers are now witnesses against him.

Mr. Blanche’s decision to defend Mr. Trump in three of the former president’s four criminal cases has pushed the lawyer outside his comfort zone. He developed a reputation as a skilled courtroom prosecutor — working in the same office as Alvin L. Bragg, now the Manhattan district attorney prosecuting Mr. Trump — but has far less experience at the defense table. Mr. Trump’s Manhattan case will be only his second criminal trial as a defense lawyer, and one of his few state court engagements.

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