Former President Donald Trump has added former Florida solicitor general Chris Kise to his legal team to represent him in the Mar-a-Lago search case, multiple sources familiar with the hire confirm to CNN.
Kise begins Tuesday and will represent Trump in court in Florida on Thursday with the rest of the legal team, including Jim Trusty and Evan Corcoran, in Trump’s effort to have a special master assigned to the case, a source said.
For three weeks, Trump has been searching for an attorney with experience in Florida to add to his team but had struggled to find someone. Kise has argued four cases before the Supreme Court and worked on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s transition team, playing a key role in DeSantis’s attacks on Andrew Gillum in their race.
Kise left his law firm, Foley & Lardner, on Tuesday as well. He had been with the firm for more than a decade.
“Foley & Lardner LLP can confirm that Christopher M. Kise, formerly a partner in our Tallahassee office, has withdrawn from the firm,” said Rachel Sisserson, a spokesperson for the firm. Sisserson did provide further comment.
The firm removed Kise’s biography page from its website on Tuesday and all other press releases and references to him. Kise launched a new website for his law firm, Chris Kise & Associates.
The hire comes as the former President’s allies have privately expressed concern over the competence of his legal team given the magnitude of the situation.
It took two weeks before Trump’s lawyers formally waded into the legal fight over the search warrant, despite publicly calling for the warrant and affidavit to be unsealed. And when they finally did, their motion had numerous legal flaws and drew criticism from legal experts on both sides of the aisle.
A person familiar with the matter said Trump’s chief political adviser Susie Wiles helped connect the former President to Kise, who Wiles knew through shared political circles in Tallahassee.
“Chris is a terrific lawyer. Among the best in the business,” Brian Ballard, a Florida-based lobbyist and former top fundraiser for Trump, told CNN.
“I’ve known him and worked with him for several decades on legal matters. He’s been around the government process enough to understand the complexities. He’s sophisticated,” said Roberto Martinez, a former US attorney for the southern district of Florida and chair of the Charlie Crist transition team. Kise worked on Crist’s transition team when he was Florida’s attorney general.
“If former President Trump wants a legal resolution to this that is short of a criminal charge, then he has engaged a serious lawyer that can hopefully accomplish that,” Martinez said.
NBC News was first to report Kise’s hiring.
A source close to the former President told CNN that Trump has posed questions about a potential indictment to members of his inner circle. Another adviser acknowledged that while Trump has certainly been in legal peril before, including while he was president, this seems different and potentially more dangerous, particularly because he no longer has the legal protections afforded to the executive office.
This story has been updated with additional details.