Departure of Cobb and Hiring of Flood Signals More Adversarial Approach

May 03, 2018, 09:35
Departure of Cobb and Hiring of Flood Signals More Adversarial Approach

"Emmet's a terrific lawyer - smart, savvy and ethical - and one who lived through a special counsel's investigation of a president", said George Conway, a lawyer who advised the legal team of Paula Jones, who had accused Clinton of sexual harassment during the Clinton investigation.

"Emmet Flood will be joining the White House Staff to represent the president and the administration against the Russian Federation witch hunt", Trump's Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Although Cobb does not personally represent the president, he has functioned as a critical point person for Mueller's document and interview requests, coordinated dealings with prosecutors and worked closely with Trump's personal lawyers.

Cobb earned a reputation for pushing the White House to cooperate with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, facilitating the production of government documents and arranging administration officials' interviews with the special counsel's office.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday hired a veteran attorney who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment process as the White House shifted to a more aggressive approach to a special counsel investigation that has reached a critical stage.

He was a favorite of White House Counsel Donald McGahn, a longtime Flood friend, but he initially declined the post after clashing with Marc Kasowitz, the combative NY lawyer who at the time served as Trump's chief personal lawyer. He is set to leave this month.

Trump's legal team is bracing for the dramatic possibility that Mueller would subpoena the President, setting up a collision that could force a lengthy court fight and test the legal limits of the President's power all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Cobb had encouraged Trump to cooperate with the inquiry, reportedly urging the president not to attack Mueller publicly-advice Trump has increasingly ignored.

Despite being labeled as a former member of Clinton's impeachment defense team, Flood actually had a relatively minor role in that effort and is well liked by conservatives.

Mr Mueller's team remains tight-lipped, but the evolving strategies of the president's side are playing out almost in full view - and they may be inclined to turn this dance into a rumble.

But Trump has started bringing on more combative lawyers for the team, like former federal prosecutors Joseph diGenova and Victory Toensing and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and his supporters have pushed Trump in that direction. That could come into play as Trump's legal team continues to negotiate a possible interview of the president by Mueller, whose team has said it could resort to a subpoena for Trump to appear before a grand jury.

Two sources told CNN that Cobb was uncomfortable with Trump's tweets against Mueller, with one source describing a "rancid" atmosphere between Mueller and the White House.

Toensing said Wednesday the shake-up of Trump's legal team is just due to the investigation changing over time. Last month, Giuliani joined the group of lawyers outside the White House after the former head of that team, John Dowd, quit earlier this year amid disagreements about strategy.

The special counsel is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice and sought to thwart a criminal probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In a tweet, Mr Trump threatened to intervene in the issue.

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