Marc Kasowitz used to lead Donald Trump’s legal defense team, though he didn’t last long. Mark Corallo was on the team, but he resigned last year. John Dowd oversaw the president’s team, but he stepped down in March. Around the same time, Trump brought on two Fox News personalities – Joe diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing – but both were told less than a week later that their services would not be needed.
But despite all of this tumult, today’s developments might be the most significant shake-up of the president’s legal defense team to date.
President Donald Trump has tapped Emmett Flood, who advised Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings, to assist in the Russia investigation after the lead White House attorney handling the probe announced plans to retire, the White House said Wednesday.
“Emmet Flood will be joining the White House Staff to represent the President and the administration against the Russia witch hunt,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
The departing Ty Cobb, who had served as the president’s lead White House attorney for the investigation, told NBC News, “I believe the White House is in good hands with Emmett Flood, who is a highly regarded and very talented attorney.”
The New York Times first reported in March that Emmet Flood was under consideration for the president’s team, and Trump called it “a false story.” It now appears Trump’s denial, like so many of his claims, wasn’t true.
As for Cobb, who lasted longer than most on the defense team, there have been rumors about his departure for weeks, but his resignation still seems sudden. As recently as this morning, Cobb sat down for an interview with ABC News, and at least initially, he didn’t say anything about leaving the White House. It’s the sort of thing that will generate some speculation about whether Cobb jumped ship or whether he was pushed.
What’s more, given the seriousness of the scandal and the investigation, and how far along Special Counsel Robert Mueller is, the volatility of Trump’s legal team is extraordinary.
That said, Emmett Flood’s willingness to join the president’s defense is almost certainly welcome news for Trump and his supporters.
In recent months, quite a few top-tier lawyers turned the president down – including, by many accounts, Flood – leading to no shortage of mockery and questions. Flood, however, is exactly the kind of experienced attorney any president facing a scandal like this should hire. This is the first time since Trump lawyered up in which he hired a new lawyer and I thought to myself, “Yes, that makes sense.”
Trump would be wise to follow Flood’s advice carefully. (If we start to see fewer presidential tweets about the investigation, we’ll know why.)
As for the other recent addition to Trump’s defense team, Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor spoke to the Washington Post today about a possible presidential interview with the special counsel.
“Some people have talked about a possible 12-hour interview,” he told the Post, adding, “That’s not going to happen – I’ll tell you that. It’d be, max, two to three hours around a narrow set of questions.”
Whatever happened to Team Trump’s eagerness to help with the investigation, answering any questions law enforcement officials might have?