Timothy Parlatore, one of the lawyers representing former President Donald J. Trump in the federal investigations into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, has resigned from the former president’s legal team.
In a brief interview on Wednesday, Mr. Parlatore declined to discuss the specific reasons for his departure, but said it was not related to the merits of either inquiry — both of which are being led by a special counsel, Jack Smith. Mr. Parlatore said that he informed Mr. Trump of his decision directly and that he left the legal team on good terms with the former president.
His departure was reported earlier by CNN.
Mr. Parlatore’s withdrawal from the twin special counsel cases leaves Mr. Trump a lawyer short at a moment when prosecutors under Mr. Smith seem to be nearing the end of their sprawling grand jury investigations and may be approaching a decision about whether to bring charges.
Two other lawyers — James Trusty and John Rowley — will for now continue to take the lead in representing Mr. Trump in both of the cases.
Mr. Parlatore informed Mr. Trump’s team on Monday that he anticipated withdrawing, according to a person familiar with the events.
Since last summer and until recently, Mr. Parlatore played a key role in Mr. Trump’s attempts to use attorney-client and executive privilege to limit the scope of the testimony provided by a series of witnesses who appeared in front of grand juries hearing evidence in both of the matters.
Over and over in sealed filings and at closed-door hearings, Mr. Parlatore and his colleagues sought to assert privilege on behalf of Mr. Trump in the hopes of narrowing testimony from top Trump aides like Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff, and former Vice President Mike Pence. But their efforts were almost completely unsuccessful.
At one point, Mr. Parlatore himself was subpoenaed to appear in front of the grand jury investigating the documents case. During his appearance, he answered questions about efforts made by Mr. Trump’s legal team to comply with a subpoena issued by the Justice Department last May demanding the return of all classified material in the former president’s possession.
Among the things that Mr. Parlatore said he discussed with the grand jury were searches — ordered by a judge in response to a push from the Justice Department — that he oversaw at the end of last year of several properties belonging to Mr. Trump, including Trump Tower in New York; Mr. Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J.; and a storage site in West Palm Beach, Fla. During the search of the storage site, investigators found at least two more documents with classified markings.
Those searches followed a search in August of Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida, by the F.B.I., which led to the discovery of more than 100 classified documents that had not been returned in response to the earlier subpoena.
Mr. Parlatore was brought on to the legal team by Boris Epshteyn, who had been serving as something of an in-house counsel, hiring and negotiating contracts for lawyers. Mr. Epshteyn has shown a penchant for delivering sunny news to Mr. Trump despite bad circumstances, and for creating a bottleneck for the lawyers in dealing with the client, according to several people familiar with the events.
Last month, Mr. Parlatore wrote a letter to Congress asking lawmakers for help in taking the documents investigation away from prosecutors and giving it to the intelligence community — a move that, among other things, would have removed the threat of a criminal indictment against Mr. Trump.
The letter also seemed to preview some of Mr. Trump’s potential defenses in the documents case, noting that during his chaotic departure from the White House, aides “quickly packed everything into boxes and shipped them to Florida.” This hasty process, Mr. Parlatore argued, suggested that “White House institutional processes,” not “intentional decisions by President Trump,” were responsible for sensitive material being hauled away.
Last week, Mr. Trump appeared to undercut those assertions on live television, declaring at a CNN town hall event that he knowingly removed government records from the White House and claiming that he was allowed to take anything he wanted with him as his personal property.
“I took the documents,” he said at the event. “I’m allowed to.”