Why Did Trump Bench Chris Kise, His Newest Legal-Team Add? Experts Weigh in

After a new member of Donald Trump's legal team was allegedly "sidelined" in the investigation into sensitive documents seized from the former president's Mar-a-Lago home, some legal experts weighed in on the potential reasons for the shift.

Legal scholar Laurence Tribe tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he wondered if Trump had "yanked" a $3 million fee he'd reportedly agreed to pay Chris Kise.

"Or maybe he never actually paid Kise up front?" Tribe added. "Either way, quitting seems the only smart move Kise made since signing on with Trump."

Former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers asked if the shift in Kise's role meant that his team anticipates Trump might be charged soon in a Georgia investigation into his actions following the 2020 presidential election.

"Would make sense for Kise to lead the GA case defense with his state law experience and Trusty to stay on the fed case," Rodgers said, referring to another Trump lawyer, James Trusty.

Newsweek reached out to a Trump spokesperson for comment and confirmation on the alleged changes involving Kise.

Kise Reportedly Sidelined in Mar-a-Lago Probe
Chris Kise, part of former President Donald Trump's legal team, leaves the Paul G. Rogers Federal Building & Courthouse after a hearing in West Palm Beach, Florida, on September 1, 2022. After Kise was reportedly “sidelined” in the investigation into sensitive documents seized from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home, some legal experts weighed in on the potential reasons for the shift. Marco Bello/AFP via Getty Images

CNN, citing two sources familiar with the matter, reported Tuesday that Kise had been moved away from the Trump legal team's work regarding the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation. The report added that Kise, who left a law firm to take the job, was still expected to remain on the legal team, though it was not immediately clear why he was no longer leading work regarding the documents probe.

Attorney and commentator Tristan Snell offered several potential explanations as the reasons and sidelining itself remain unconfirmed by Trump.

"Trump spent $3 million upfront to get DeSantis lawyer Chris Kise onto his legal team for the Mar-a-Lago documents case. Now Kise is off the team. Why?" Snell tweeted. "Because he wouldn't lie to the Court? Because the money didn't come through? Because Trump fired him in a huff?"

The CNN report did not mention the suggestion by Tribe that Kise might have quit.

It has been less than a month since reports emerged that Kise had accepted a role on Trump's legal team. Kise is a former Florida solicitor general and was part of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' transition team. Before joining Trump's team, he worked for the law firm Foley & Lardner.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti tweeted Tuesday that Kise's alleged sidelining in the Mar-a-Lago case shows why Trump "has trouble attracting talented lawyers."

If it is true that Kise is off the documents probe but is remaining on Trump's team, there are several other ongoing investigations he might be able to help with. They include New York Attorney General Letitia James' probe into Trump and his business practices and related fraud lawsuit, as well as a House committee investigation into Trump's alleged role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.