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stated on August 22, 2022 in a tweet:
Image shows Trump is representing himself in a lawsuit against the United States government related to the FBI search of his Florida home.
true false
Andy Nguyen
By Andy Nguyen August 25, 2022

No, Trump is not representing himself in case against the US government

If Your Time is short

  • The screenshot is from a real online docket, but it was the result of an apparent filing error. 
  • Three attorneys are representing Trump in a federal lawsuit related to the FBI’s search of his Florida home.

Following the FBI's search of Donald Trump's home at Mar-a-Lago, The Washington Post reported the former president was having trouble assembling a team of defense lawyers to sue the government. So it came as no surprise to some social media users when a recent legal filing listed Trump as representing himself.

A screenshot shared online showed a portion of a civil docket in the case of "Trump v. United States Government." It showed the former president listed as represented by "pro se," which is a Latin phrase meaning "for oneself, on one’s own behalf."

The phrase is used in legal proceedings when someone doesn’t have their own counsel and is representing themselves.

Trump is suing the government to appoint a "special master" who will oversee the documents that were seized by the FBI and screen it for any potential privileged material.

Social media posts took the image and ran with it — suggesting Trump was representing himself because no lawyer was willing to take his case.

"A pathological liar is going to testify under oath against his own government — without a lawyer because nobody wanted to take on his losing case," one Twitter user said. "Everybody has abandoned him in the end."

Featured Fact-check

Although the screenshot listing Trump as representing himself is legitimate, it was the apparent result of a filing error.

A copy of the suit names three lawyers representing Trump — Lindsey Halligan, James M. Trusty and M. Evan Corcoran. An updated version of the docket lists Halligan as the lead attorney for Trump’s defense where it originally had him as being "pro se."

Because the lawsuit was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and Halligan is the only attorney licensed to practice law in the state, a "pro hac vice" motion had to be filed for Trusty and Corcoran. "Pro hac vice" allows a lawyer to practice law in a court where they don’t have jurisdiction.

Our ruling

Several social media posts circulated the claim that Trump was acting as his own lawyer in his lawsuit against the U.S. government related to the FBI search of his Florida home. 

The claims were based on a screenshot from the online docket of the case, but it was the apparent result of a filing error.

Trump does have three lawyers acting as his defense and they are listed in a copy of the complaint. 

We rate this False. 

Our Sources

The Washington Post, "Trump is rushing to hire seasoned lawyers — but he keeps hearing ‘No,’" Aug. 16, 2022

Alex Mallin, Twitter post, Aug. 22, 2022

Archive of Alex Mallin Twitter post

Cornell Law School, Pro se, accessed Aug. 24, 2022

Politico, "Trump files suit demanding special master in Mar-a-Lago search case," Aug. 22, 2022

Dash Dobrofsky, Twitter post, Aug. 22, 2022

Archive of Dash Dobrofsky Twitter post

Trump v. U.S. Government, Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief, Aug. 22, 2022

Cornell Law School, Pro hac vice, Aug. 24, 2022

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No, Trump is not representing himself in case against the US government

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