A gavel sits on a desk inside the Court of Appeals at the new Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center, which celebrated its official opening on Monday Jan. 14, 2013, in Denver. 
Photo by Brennan Linsley/AP

Is Trump eyeing another change to his legal defense team?


There’s practically been a revolving door at Donald Trump’s White House, with key aides departing at a dramatic rate, creating a staffing crisis with no modern precedent. But let’s not forget that the president’s outside legal team has also seen some shake-ups.

As the Russia scandal intensified, and the president found it necessary to bring on outside counsel, Trump initially turned to Marc Kasowitz to head up the team. That didn’t go especially well – Kasowitz had no relevant background in this kind legal work – and the baton was soon passed to Ty Cobb.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that a new lawyer is suddenly in the mix.

President Trump is in discussions with a veteran Washington lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during the impeachment process about joining the White House to help deal with the special counsel inquiry, according to four people familiar with the matter.

The lawyer, Emmet T. Flood, met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office this past week to discuss the possibility, according to the people. No final decision has been made, according to two of the people.

This isn’t exactly my area of expertise, but Flood has an exceptional reputation, and given the seriousness of the scandal facing the president, Trump would be lucky to secure Flood’s services. The performance of the president’s current outside legal team has been underwhelming for a while, and Flood’s background is exactly what Trump needs.

Which is why it was of interest when Trump denied the accuracy of the Times’ reporting and insisted via Twitter that he’s “VERY happy” with his lawyers. (The newspaper stands by its article.)

So, what’s going on here?

One possibility – and this is admittedly speculative – is that Flood simply said no, which led Trump to take a I-didn’t-want-to-hire-him-anyway posture. I talked yesterday to a D.C. lawyer, who has no involvement in this case or Flood’s firm, but who reminded me of a couple of things.

First, the major D.C. law firms tend to be skittish about high-profile clients who have a habit of refusing to pay their bills – and “Deadbeat Donald” has a reputation in this area he’ll never shake.

Second, the big D.C. firms, aware of Trump’s habit of refusing to pay his bills, would probably insist on an up-front retainer of tens of millions of dollars, which is an arrangement the president isn’t likely to accept.

Regardless, the Times’ report added that the overture to Flood “appears, at the least, to be an acknowledgment that the investigation is unlikely to end anytime soon.” Remember, in recent months, Trump’s legal team has said the investigation into the president would end by Thanksgiving. Then they said it would all wrap up by Dec. 31. Then Jan. 31. Then March 31.

Then Trump World reportedly offered Special Counsel Robert Mueller an interview opportunity with the president if Mueller agreed drop the probe by May,

If the president is weighing another change on his legal team, it’d be hard to blame him.