WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has hired Emmet Flood — an attorney who represented former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings — to represent the Trump administration’s interests in the special counsel’s Russia probe.
The latest shake-up to Trump’s legal team was announced by the White House on Wednesday, in a statement that noted Flood was coming on board as current White House counsel Ty Cobb was stepping down.
“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. “Ty Cobb, a friend of the President, who has done a terrific job, will be retiring at the end of the month.”
The changes come amid reports Tuesday night that special counsel Robert Mueller has threatened to subpoena Trump if he does not willingly submit to an interview. Mueller is reportedly interested in asking Trump about his knowledge of communications between his campaign aides and Russia and his motive for firing former FBI Director James Comey.
Trump has moved in recent weeks to beef up his representation in the Russia investigation, hiring former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani along with former federal prosecutors Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin. The hirings follow the resignation of the legal team’s former lead attorney John Dowd.
Flood brings years of experience representing former presidents — he was part of the team of lawyers who represented Clinton during the impeachment hearings and he worked for two years in the White House Counsel’s Office under President George W. Bush.
Flood’s predecessor, Cobb, has publicly advocated for cooperation between the White House and Mueller — a strategy that appeared to be at odds with the president’s own efforts to attack Mueller and the probe through Twitter.
Giuliani, in an interview with The Washington Post, said Cobb’s withdrawal was due in part to Jay Sekulow, another member of Trump’s legal team, who felt Trump “needed someone that was more aggressive.”
“That’s not a criticism of Ty, but it’s just about how we’re going to do this,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani, in an interview with Bloomberg News, said Trump’s legal team was still open to the possibility of Trump meeting with Mueller, but said the team would only do so with the guarantee from Mueller that the questions would be fair and narrow in scope.
“We would be inclined to do it,” Giuliani said. “But if we came to conclusion they have already made up their mind . . . then we would just be leading him into the lion’s den.”
Should the president sit down with Mueller, “it’d be, max, two to three hours around a narrow set of questions,” Giuliani told Bloomberg News.
Trump, in a Wednesday morning tweet, continued to denounce Mueller’s probe and called the special counsel’s efforts “a setup & trap.”
“There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap),” Trump tweeted. “What there is is Negotiations going on with North Korea over Nuclear War, Negotiations going on with China over Trade Deficits, Negotiations on NAFTA, and much more. Witch Hunt!”