Trump considers reorganizing the legal team as it confronts Mueller more aggressively

In another sign of the president's most aggressive stance, on Monday he hired Joseph E. diGenova, a Washington lawyer who has long appeared on Fox News regularly in recent months to claim that the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice had fabricated evidence against Mr. Trump to help Hillary Clinton.

"There was a blatant plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she did not win the election, to engage in a false relationship with Donald Trump crime," he told Fox News in January. He added: "Make no mistake about it: a group of F.B.I. and D.O.J. people were trying to convince Donald Trump of a falsely created crime."

Few tests have emerged to support that theory.

Mr. Trump is also considering adding other lawyers to the team, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The tumult marked the biggest instability in the team since Trump put aside his personal lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, last summer, and was ignored by many of Washington's top lawyers before reaching his current list of lawyers.

"It is never a good idea to see legal teams change drastically and competent lawyers replaced by others," said Roger Cossack. , a legal badyst for a long time. "It shows that there is chaos and that whoever the client is, in this case the president, is not happy and is looking for the magic solution, and it is never a great strategy to look for the magic bullet." The president clearly wants it to end and wants to put an end to it. "

Mr. Cobb, Mr. Dowd and another lawyer, Jay Sekulow, took over last summer from Mr. Kasowitz, a combative New Yorker who had represented Mr. Trump in high profile trials and urged an aggressive stance toward Mr. Mueller , who was named last May.

Mr. Trump insisted to his lawyers that he had not done anything wrong and pressed for him to cooperate with the special lawyer, arguing that it was his best way to have his name clarified. Working inside the White House, Mr. Cobb supervised the production of thousands of pages of documents and emails that were delivered to Mr. Mueller's office and said that the president should not exercise executive privilege over records to avoid slowing down the process. The lawyers told the president that they expected Mr. Mueller to acknowledge before the end of the year that Mr. Trump was not the target of the investigation.

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Mr. Mueller's investigation continues.

As he moves forward, Mr. Trump has questioned the approach of his lawyers and has confronted them about whether he should be interviewed by Mr. Mueller. The president believes that he is his best spokesperson and can explain to Mr. Mueller that he did nothing wrong. The lawyers see little advantage.


John Dowd, the president's chief lawyer, said he had no plans to leave the legal team.

Brendan Mcdermid / Reuters

Mr. Dowd and Sekulow began to worry about their position with the president in the last two weeks after learning that Trump had met with another veteran lawyer, Emmet Flood, who represented President Bill Clinton during the impeachment trial, to join the team. [19659016] In public as well as in private, Mr. Trump tried to rebadure his lawyers by telling them that they had not lost favor with him. "I am very happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow," said Trump on Twitter criticizing a New York Times article about his conversations with Mr. Flood. "They are doing a great job".

Mr. Dowd, in turn, called the Justice Department over the weekend to finalize the special attorney's investigation. Mr. Dowd said at the beginning that he was speaking on behalf of the president, but then backed off. But according to two people informed on the matter, in fact he was acting at the president's behest.

Mr. Dowd's statement unleashed a current of negative coverage of Mr. Trump on cable television, to which he is very attentive. His lawyers were criticized for his indiscipline, and Mr. Dowd's comments raised concerns that the president ordered the dismissal of Mr. Mueller. Cobb tried to stifle that speculation on Sunday, saying the president was not considering firing the special lawyer.

The president's newest lawyer, Mr. DiGenova, has worked in Washington law circles for decades, including as a lawyer in the United States. for the District of Columbia appointed by President Ronald Reagan. He has served as an independent advisor in government investigations of waste, fraud and abuse, in particular a three-year criminal investigation into whether George Bush administration officials violated any law in his search for damaging information about Bill Clinton, then presidential candidate. 19659020] Mr. DiGenova is an attorney badociated with his wife, Victoria Toensing. He has also represented Sam Clovis, former co-chair of the Trump campaign, and Erik Prince, founder of the security contractor Blackwater and informal adviser to Mr. Trump. Mr. Prince also attended a meeting in January 2017 with a Russian investor in the Seychelles that the special lawyer is investigating.

Mrs. Toensing also represents Mark Corallo, the former spokesman for Trump's legal team who accused one of the president's advisers of planning to obstruct justice with a statement related to a 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who promised information harmful to Ms. Clinton.

Mr. DiGenova was one of several former independent advisers who, in the late 1990s, argued that paper should be reduced. In 1999, Congress allowed the expiration of parts of the law that allowed for an independent lawyer.

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