WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump hired on Wednesday an attorney who represented former President Bill Clinton with the aim of becoming more “aggressive” in his response to the Russia probe headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who wants to question the mogul under oath.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a communique that Trump had hired veteran lawyer Emmet T. Flood, who advised Clinton during his 1998 impeachment proceedings after he lied about his relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky.
The new member of the legal team will “represent the president and the administration against the Russia witch hunt,” Sanders said, using the president’s standard label for the Mueller investigation.
Flood will replace Ty Cobb, an attorney who joined Trump’s legal team last summer to help the White House navigate Mueller’s investigation of presumed Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“Ty Cobb, a friend of the president, who has done a terrific job, will be retiring at the end of the month,” Sanders added.
Cobb’s work focused on producing documents for Mueller’s investigation, while an outside attorney – John Dowd – headed the group of lawyers who bore almost the entire burden of crafting the response of Trump and his entourage to the Russia probe.
Dowd resigned in March over strategic difference with the president, including Trump’s insistence that he wanted to meet with Mueller to answer the latter’s questions, and he was replaced in April by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has said he is open to scheduling a meeting between the special counsel and the president.
According to The New York Times and The Washington Post, Flood is expected to adopt a more hardline stance than Cobb in the Russia investigation, given that the latter had pressured Trump to be more cooperative with Mueller.
Meanwhile, Trump on Wednesday said that “at some point (he) will have no choice” but to involve himself in the Russia probe.
“At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!” said Trump in a Wednesday morning Twitter post.
The president insisted that the investigation is “A Rigged System – They don’t want to turn over Documents to Congress. What are they afraid of? Why so much redacting? Why such unequal ‘justice?’” in the same tweet.
Several Republican lawmakers have criticized the Department of Justice, especially Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has refused to turn over documents to Congress that allegedly show anti-Trump bias among some senior government officials.
In another tweet, the president called any investigation into possible obstruction of justice a “setup & trap,” claiming once again that there had been no wrongdoing by people involved in his 2016 campaign for office.
According to a report by The Washington Post on Tuesday evening, Mueller told Trump’s legal team in a March 5 meeting that he might subpoena the president to testify if he refused to cooperate with the investigation.