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Tony Brass withdraws from representing Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao

Attorney representing Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao resigns after mayor's press conference
Attorney representing Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao resigns after mayor's press conference 04:34

OAKLAND -- Attorney Tony Brass, who signed on to represent Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao following an FBI raid at her home last week, announced on Monday that he is no longer representing the mayor.

Brass confirmed to CBS News Bay Area that he has withdrawn representation, hours after Thao delivered a defiant statement at City Hall denouncing the raid and the recall campaign against her.

Minutes after making the decision, Brass told reporter Juliette Goodrich why he decided to no longer represent Thao.

"Because our paths diverted in terms of our approach to the case," he said.

The attorney also said that he did not know Thao was going to speak to the media on Monday. He said he would have advised her not to.

"When I heard the press conference this morning, a couple of things happened," Brass explained during a Zoom interview with Goodrich after he initially announced the news Monday. "One is I did not know there was going to be a press conference. And then when I heard the content of the press conference, it became clear to me that the mayor and I had very different approaches or different philosophies about how to proceed, which is fine. She is the client." 

Thao released a statement about Brass no longer representing her Monday evening.

"I appreciate Tony Brass for providing me with initial legal guidance. He helped me better understand the investigation and my legal options," the statement read. "Over the weekend, I obtained new legal counsel and thanked Mr. Brass for his counsel. I will share the name of my new counsel once agreements are finalized."

On Friday, Brass said in an interview that neither he nor Thao know any details of the federal investigation but said Thao is "ready, willing and able to cooperate with authorities." 

He added that Thao never received a request for documents or information but she would have provided them if asked.    

Brass reiterated during his interview with CBS News Bay Area that Thao was not the target of the investigation as far as he knew.

"I have no information, still, that she is the target, although my information grows more and more stale by the hour," Brass admitted during the interview.

When asked what Thao's next step should be, Brass replied, "She certainly should find new representation, and she should find new representation that at least agrees or can make the best of what she wants her approach to be. I'm sure there are many fine attorneys who would agree with her approach and will advocate for that approach. I just don't think I'm the right person for that."  

Juliette Goodrich contributed to this story.

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