One of Trump's potential lawyers in Russia probe has history in Mississippi

One of Trump's potential lawyers in Russia probe has history in Mississippi

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - President Donald Trump has narrowed his legal team to four potential lawyers, and one of those lawyers once tried a notorious federal case here in Hattiesburg.

According to the Washington Post, President Trump is actively putting together a legal team to represent him in connection to his campaign and alleged Russian interference in last year's election.

Those four lawyers are E. Kasowitz, Robert J. Giuffra Jr., Reid H. Weingarten,and Theodore B. Olson, according to the post.

Rewind to 1989 and we meet a young Reid Weingarten who prosecuted one of the biggest federal cases in Hattiesburg history. The case was against a federal judge, and involved well known Hattiesburg attorney Paul Bud Holmes.

To understand Weingarten's involvement, one must first learn about Walter Louis Nixon, Jr.

Federal Judge Nixon: 

According to Wikipedia, Walter Louis Nixon, Jr. was a former United States federal judge who was impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office by the Senate.

Nixon was born in Biloxi, Mississippi and attended Tulane University Law School.

On May 29, 1968, Nixon was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson to a new seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, created by 80 Stat. 75, according to Wikipedia.

He was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 6, 1968, and received his commission on June 7, 1968.

Nixon's tenure later allowed him to become Chief Judge of the Southern District Court in 1982.

A favor for an old Hattiesburg friend would eventually derail his entire career.

Meet Wiley Fairchild: 

Wiley Fairchild was a prominent businessman in the Hub City in the 1980s.

Wiley was a bank director, construction giant and philanthropist, according to the New York Times.

The Times reported that Wiley was a close friend of Nixon's, so close that he asked for a favor that would ultimately result in Nixon's imprisonment.

Wiley had a son named Drew who was one of six people arrested in August 1980 during the seizure of 2,200 pounds of marijuana at Hattiesburg Municipal Airport, according to The Washington Post. 

Drew initially agreed to plead guilty to federal charges, but was never charged in federal court. He was later charged in state court and pleaded guilty to those charges.

Wiley asked Nixon to intervene in his son's case by speaking to the prosecutor directly involved in his son's case.

The prosecutor was Paul Bud Holmes, a close friend of Judge Nixon and acting District Attorney of Forrest County in 1980.

According to Wikipedia, Nixon did speak with Holmes, and the case was dropped against Drew.

Fairchild gifted Nixon three oil wells after the case was dropped, according to The New York Times.

The Washington Post reported that Judge Nixon gained a $60,000 profit in royalties from the leases since he obtained them Feb. 25, 1981.

Bribery and Lies, 1986:

These illegal gifts and involvement in the case against Drew would soon catch up to Nixon.

Nixon made false statements to a grand jury regarding his involvement in Drew's case.

In August of 1985, Nixon was indicted on three charges of perjury and one charge of accepting illegal gifts in return for assisting Drew.

According to The Washington Post, the indictment outlined that Nixon lied under oath to the grand jury when he denied that he discussed Drew's case with Wiley or Holmes.

Holmes pleaded guilty to a contempt of court charge in the same investigation, according to the Washington Post.

The trial: 

The New York Times describes the scene as typical Deep South society.

Nixon at this point was relieved of his judicial duties at his own request, pending the outcome of this trial, according to The Times article.

This is where Weingarten enters the story.

Weingarten was the specially appointed federal prosecutor against Nixon.

Weingarten outlined how Nixon contacted Wiley and Holmes to assure them that the case against Drew would be resolved.

Excerpts from an article by The New York Times describe the scene in court:

"Then, in June, Judge Nixon's name came up in an indictment of Paul H. (Bud) Holmes, a close friend of Judge Nixon's who, as the District Attorney of Forrest County from 1980 to 1984, was directly involved in a state narcotics case against Drew Fairchild.

Weingarten also used a quote from Holmes in a federal document to make his case.

"...Federal documents quote Mr. Holmes as telling Mr. Fairchild, in reference to Judge Nixon, ''When this man asks me to do something, I do it,'" New York Times Article 1985.

The verdict:

Nixon was convicted in 1986 on perjury charges and sentenced to 5 years in prison. Nixon refused to resign, and continued to both hold the title of Federal Judge and collect his judicial salary in prison. (Wikipedia)

Nixon was impeached by The House of Representatives in 1989, and was also convicted by the Senate for committing perjury before a grand jury.

He was officially removed from office and permanently banned from the federal judiciary after his Senate conviction in 1989.

Nixon tried to appeal his conviction in 1993, but the Supreme Court rejected his appeal.

Weingarten today: 

Reid Weingarten has a prolific reputation.

He has been recognized as one of the nation's top white-collar criminal defense lawyers.

Since 2013, Mr. Weingarten has been given the rare distinction of a "star" ranking by Chambers USA in both the Litigation: Trial Lawyers (Nationwide) and Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (DC) categories, according to his biography.  

Weingarten's biography states that he works from Steptoe's Washington and New York offices, and has represented individuals and corporations in some of the most high-profile cases in the country.

According to The Washington Post, Weingarten has already spoken with senior administration officials regarding Trump's legal representation for the Russia investigation.

The Post describes Weingarten as an unlikely candidate for Trump's legal team because of his past representing Democratic clients.

Weingarten is also close friends with Eric H. Holder Jr., who served as attorney general under President Barack Obama, according to The Washington Post.