WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 6: (AFP OUT) A White House staffer walks to the West Wing during a snow storm at the White House March 6, 2013 in Washington, DC. The...

As scandals percolate, White House hires small army of lawyers

The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/9/19, 9:00 PM ET

Exclusive: NBC News source says Mueller probe wrapping by March

Rachel Maddow relays exclusive news from Pete Williams, NBC News justice correspondent, whose sources say that Robert Mueller is nearing the end of his investigation, with one source saying the bulk of Mueller’s work will be done by the end of February.
Donald Trump hasn’t exactly had a lot of luck when hiring attorneys since taking office. He does, however, need the best possible legal representation: this president is at the center of some of the most serious White House scandals in American history, and some of them may soon put Trump in new legal jeopardy.

With that in mind, as Rachel noted on last night’s show, the Washington Post published an interesting report on the White House’s newly expanded legal team.

A beefed-up White House legal team is gearing up to prevent President Trump’s confidential discussions with top advisers from being disclosed to House Democratic investigators and revealed in the special counsel’s long-awaited report, setting the stage for a potential clash between the branches of government.

The strategy to strongly assert the president’s executive privilege on both fronts is being developed under newly arrived White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, who has hired 17 lawyers in recent weeks to help in the effort.

We don’t yet know who the 17 new lawyers are, or anything about their backgrounds, but just on the surface, it’s a striking tally. Team Trump wouldn’t hire a small army of attorneys unless it had reason to believe they’d have quite a bit of work to do.

The same article added that the White House counsel’s office is likely to expand its staff even more “in the coming weeks.”

In the coming weeks, of course, the new House Democratic majority will be asking a series of difficult questions the president and his team will probably be reluctant to answer, and there’s also a possible report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller to consider.

In the meantime, the legal team will apparently be preparing for some dramatic legal circumstances.

There is a growing sense that the special counsel’s closely held investigation could come to culmination soon. Some Trump advisers think Mueller could deliver the confidential report explaining his findings to senior Justice Department officials next month. Under the rules authorizing the special counsel, the attorney general can then decide whether to share the report or parts of it with Congress and the public.

Some House leaders have vowed to immediately seek to obtain a copy of Mueller’s findings. But the White House would resist the release of details describing confidential and sensitive communications between the president and his senior aides, Trump advisers say.

If and when the House subpoenas Mueller’s findings, Trump’s army of lawyers will have quite a bit of work to do.

Scandals and White House

As scandals percolate, White House hires small army of lawyers