U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement from the Roosevelt Room next to the empty chairs of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (L), D-New York, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R), D-California, after they cancelled their meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 28, 2017.
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Top member of Trump’s legal defense team resigns

Updated

Just 12 days ago, the New York Times  reported that Donald Trump was “in discussions” with Emmet Flood, a veteran D.C. lawyer who has the kind of background and expertise the president desperately needs. He neglected to tell his current attorneys about his outreach to a new one.

A day later, Trump insisted that that everything was fine with his private legal team, which is overseeing Trump’s defense in the Russia scandal. He added, “I am VERY happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow. They are doing a great job.”

And yet, here we are, watching the lead attorney on the president’s team resign.

President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, who has been providing counsel to the president on the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, said Thursday that he has resigned.

In a brief statement to NBC News, attorney John Dowd confirmed his move and said, “I love the president and wish him very well.”

Dowd’s resignation comes less than a week after he issued a bizarre call for the end of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and three months after Dowd made the curious assertion that the president is literally incapable of obstructing justice.

This is the second time Trump has lost the lead attorney on his defense team, following Marc Kasowitz’s demotion last year.

What we’re left with is a striking set of circumstances: as the Russia scandal intensifies, and the special counsel’s team flips key witnesses, the president’s team of attorneys is becoming an embarrassing mess.

Trump recently hired Joe diGenova for his legal defense – again without telling anyone – because the president liked what the far-right conspiracy theorist said on television. Trump has already reportedly turned to Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro for legal guidance.

The president still has Ty Cobb – despite his reported clashes with the White House counsel’s office – who’s perhaps best known for his false predictions about the end of the investigation and his candid remarks about the probe at an outdoor table at a restaurant outside the New York Times’ D.C. bureau. (Cobb, who may soon be fired, also has some unfortunate email habits.)

Of course, there’s also Jay Sekulow, who has no business even trying to do this kind of work – he led TV preacher Pat Robertson’s legal group, where he worked on issues like school prayer – and who’s embarrassed himself on national television while talking about the controversy.

It’s against this backdrop that competent attorneys have turned the president down.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but Trump is facing a serious scandal of historic significance, which may very well bring his presidency to a premature end. He needs the best legal defense possible.

Instead, Trump’s efforts to assemble a capable legal defense team have become one of the biggest debacles of his presidency – and given the scope of his failures, that’s no small feat.

Donald Trump

Top member of Trump's legal defense team resigns

Updated