Friday, July 20News That Matters

After once predicting quick end to Mueller investigation, White House looking to expand legal team


The White House has reached out to a veteran Washington lawyer with experience assisting presidents under investigation to see if he would join the legal team helping President Donald Trump deal with the special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

A person familiar with the overture said Emmet Flood, a partner at the firm Williams and Connelly, met last week in the Oval Office with Trump to discuss the offer. The person said the discussions were preliminary. They were first reported by the New York Times.

Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer who had been leading Trump’s response to the probe, has been predicting that special counsel Robert Mueller III’s probe is almost over. He had predicted it would end by Christmas and then by Jan. 1. The outreach to Flood is a sign that the White House has recognized the investigation is likely going to continue for some time.

Cobb has said he has no imminent plans to leave but has always told the president he views the job as temporary and will stay until his work is done. He has said that his work will be finished when the president’s interview is complete and all the White House witnesses have been interviewed by the special counsel’s team. The White House is now negotiating with Mueller over a possible interview with the president.

Cobb and Flood each declined to comment when reached Saturday.

One White House adviser said Flood could also be considered for the job of White House counsel.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that it was “wrong” to say he was unhappy with the legal team handling the Russia matter and considering adding another lawyer. “I am VERY happy with my lawyers John Down, Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow. They are doing a great job and have shown conclusively that there was no Collusion with Russia,” he wrote.

Though a Republican, Flood worked for President Bill Clinton during his 1998 impeachment proceedings. He also served in the White House Counsel’s Office under President George W. Bush and has represented former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Flood was interviewed over the summer about joining the White House Counsel’s Office to manage the special counsel probe. He was one of more than half a dozen top lawyers to decline to assist Trump.

But there have been significant changes to Trump’s legal advice since then. Marc Kasowitz, a New York litigator with a combative reputation who had represented Trump in business disputes, was replaced as head of Trump’s personal legal team by John M. Dowd, who had deeper Washington experience. He is assisted by Jay Sekulow, known for assisting conservative organizations in civil litigations.

Trump also hired Cobb to serve as the White House’s point person on the Russian probe, preparing documents requested by Mueller and managing requests to interview White House staff.

Experts have questioned the tiny size of Trump’s team and suggested that the complexity of the investigation would likely require him at some point to expand.

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