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Meet Trump’s lawyers in the New York hush money trial

When Donald Trump appears Monday for his first criminal trial, he will be accompanied by two experienced New York lawyers: Todd Blanche and Susan Necheles.

Over the past year, the former president has shed some of the less experienced lawyers who had attached themselves to his policies and elevated his conspiracy theories, with attorneys like Blanche and Necheles taking their place as that he is fighting charges in four criminal cases.

People familiar with their work describe them as reputable lawyers who have the experience to effectively defend Trump in court — if their famously combative and fickle client allows them to do their job.

Blanche left New York’s oldest law firm, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, to start her own firm and represent Trump. In addition to the trial in New York, in which Trump is accused of falsifying business records to conceal a hush money payment, Blanche is also Trump’s lawyer in his two federal criminal cases, in Florida and Washington.

He hired more than half a dozen lawyers and staff to work on the various cases.

A graduate of American University and Brooklyn Law School, Blanche previously worked in the prestigious Manhattan federal prosecutor’s office. He has more experience as a prosecutor than a defense attorney, with few successful trials as a defense attorney under his belt. As a federal prosecutor, he worked alongside Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is now the lead prosecutor in the case against Trump.

Blanche first came to Trump’s attention when he helped Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, avoid mortgage fraud charges after Manafort was convicted at trial on charges similar federal ones. Blanche also represented Trump aide Boris Epshteyn when he was questioned in a Justice Department investigation involving the former president.

Trump asked Blanche to help him find a lawyer to defend him in the New York criminal case. Blanche contacted former colleagues in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, a person familiar with the matter recently told The Washington Post. But their law firms said no, a nod to the fact that the nation’s most prominent white-collar firms have no interest in taking on a client as controversial and combative as Trump.

Blanche therefore took on the work herself.

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Necheles, who attended the University of Rochester and Yale Law School, has more experience than Blanche as a defense attorney in Manhattan. She has her own law firm and previously defended the former president’s company, the Trump Organization, in a tax fraud case in New York State. She has also represented politicians, real estate developers and the gangster “Benny Eggs.”

Necheles sat alongside Blanche and their client at the defense table during pretrial proceedings in the secret New York trial, but has yet to argue much before the court judge Supreme Court of New York, Juan Merchan.

Instead, it was Blanche who stood up in Merchan’s courtroom, deploying every legal strategy to delay the trial. Merchan became increasingly frustrated with these efforts and expressed his displeasure with Blanche.

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