Citizen Trump is not locked in a holding cell in Wazoo City, Alabama, flat broke and accused of murder. Cadillac One will never be confused with a 1964 Buick Skylark, with or without posi-traction. But Vincent Gambini may be the only criminal defense attorney left in the country with the rare constellation of skills needed to face off with Robert Mueller and his team. At least, he may be the only one willing to take on the case. Gambini won the acquittal of two New York youths in a criminal murder trial in Beechum County, Alabama. The prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the witnesses were all ready to convict but Gambini’s brilliant cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses saved them from execution. Never underestimate a Gambini.
Mr. Gambini could not be reached for comment. He and his wife, Mona Lisa Vito Gambini, are celebrating their honeymoon, after a protracted engagement, in the foothills of the headlands of the Pocono Mountains. However, Mr. Gambini’s answering service, who sounds quite a bit like Mrs. Gambini, said that he would call back right after Easter. Gambini has a few DUI and turnstile-jumping cases to hand off and is otherwise prepared to take on his new client. A senior White House adviser, whose information is normally dead-balls accurate, has stated that the Gambini’s Cadillac convertible received an oil change and lube last night. It is gassed and ready to go. For the record, the Chinese in D.C. is not terrible.
The Future Ex-President was advised sometime last month that he was a subject of the Special Counsel’s investigation for “conduct while in office,” likely referring to the Comey firing at least. He declared that he was exonerated (“No Collusion!”), assuming that as long as he was the subject rather than the target, he had nothing to fear He reiterated his willingness for face-to-face interview with Robert Mueller. It was probably then that Trump’s chief counsel, the deeply experienced John Dowd, headed for the exits. He leaves the Trump ship of state manned by a crew of people who have never sailed in such dark and deep legal waters.
Most highly prized white-collar defense attorneys begin their careers as Assistant U.S. Attorneys, one of many line prosecutors in the Department of Justice. They know the defense because they know the prosecution. They have put together the cases so they know how to dismantle them. For the best, it is as easy as correcting the ignition timing in a 1964 Bel Air (4 degrees before top dead center). Gambini has never been a federal prosecutor, and that may be to his advantage. He won’t be deterred by the usual course of dealing of the seasoned pros. In addition, Gambini is willing to work without a retainer, unlike his more experienced colleagues.
Gambini stands out because he is willing to work day and night for as long as it takes to read every document, review every surveillance recording and take an accelerated course in federal criminal procedure (it wasn’t on the bar) to prepare himself to joust with the prosecution. For his prospective client, it’s ten minutes to midnight, so there is not much time to prepare. Vincent Gambini is willing, able and almost ready to serve.
Trump has been designated a subject It means that the prosecutor or the grand jury has some evidence of the possible commission of a crime. For example, one witness may have implicated the subject but the testimony is unsupported by a document or another witness. There could be an email to or from Trump reciting facts that fall within the subject matter, but it’s not clear what or when the correspondent knew the information and, more importantly, the nature of his intent.
For example, Hillary Clinton was the subject of a federal investigation over the use of private email servers for official business during her tenure as Secretary of State. As far as it is publicly known, she never became a target of an investigation. James Comey suggested that she was not a target when he stated during the 2016 campaign that the FBI did not believe there was evidence sufficient to convict her of a federal offense.
A target is someone already in the crosshairs. The prosecutor believes that there is enough evidence to convict a target. The prosecutor informs the target of the status, at which point the target can expect an indictment.
John Dowd’s resignation suggests that he already knew that his client had been named a subject. He quit because there was a split of opinion between him and his client, who no doubt was buttressed by the lawyers. Dowd recommended not volunteering; at least Trump wouldn’t bury himself. Even if Mueller issued a closing report raising the possibility of a crime, the Republican-controlled Congress would not vote to impeach. If he were presented as a target based on substantial evidence, even the die-hards in the House would have to consider impeachment. In any case, Trump would become a lame duck. He has nothing to gain and everything to lose by talking to Mueller. Dowd, thinking like a litigator, gave him correct legal advice. On the political side, he will look guilty if he doesn’t agree to meet. He’s forked but good.
Gambini is one of those “what have you got to lose?” kinds of lawyers. How much worse can it be with Vinny than with Ty Cobb, the White House process lawyer, or Jay Sekulow, and Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova? They are TV lawyers who don’t have any more firepower than a 1963 Chevy Corvair with posi-traction.
So, will he give Vincent Gambini a chance? He worked miracles in Wazoo City. He can do it in Washington.