Trump goes tough on Mueller as Rudy says special counsel will get just TWO HOURS to quiz the president and ‘aggressive’ Clinton impeachment attorney joins team
- Emmet Flood, an attorney with Williams and Connolly, will replace Ty Cobb
- Cobb was hired to liaise with Trump’s personal attorneys and handle the White House’s end of the Russia probe
- Hiring of Flood affirms that the White House plans to take a tougher approach to the special counsel investigation
- Trump signaled a change in tack this morning when he pushed back against questions that Mueller wants to ask about collusion and obstruction
- Pushback came after it was revealed that Mueller wants to subpoena him
- Another Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, today acknowledged that an exhaustive interview with the special counsel could get the president into trouble
White House lawyer Ty Cobb is retiring and will be replaced by the attorney who defended Bill Clinton in his impeachment proceedings.
Emmet Flood will replace Cobb, who was hired to liaise with Trump’s personal attorneys and handle the White House’s end of the Russia probe, the New York Times first reported.
The White House attorney had been one of the Trump lawyers pushing the president to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller.
His departure at a time when the White House is bracing for a potential subpoena from Mueller is indicative of a change in legal strategy.
Another Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, today said that Mueller would be granted a two-hour interview that could last three hours max in a recognition that an exhaustive interview with the special counsel could get the president into trouble.
He said that Flood had been added to added to the operation because he has a reputation for being more ‘aggressive’ than Cobb.
White House lawyer Ty Cobb is retiring and will be replaced by the lawyer who defended Bill Clinton in his impeachment proceedings
Giuliani told the Washington Post that chief lawyer on the case, Jay Sekulow, decided that Cobb was not the man for the current job and pointed him to the door.
‘Jay felt he need someone that more aggressive,’ Giuliani said. ‘That’s not a criticism of Ty, but it’s just about how we’re going to do this.’
Giuliani said of Cobb, ‘It was just time for him to go, but he’s still going to be available to us.’
‘Emmet Flood will be joining the White House Staff to represent the President and the administration against the Russia witch hunt,’ the White House said Wednesday
Cobb was said to be on the chopping block a month ago in March as Trump’s legal team bickered behind the scenes about the best way to move forward with the Mueller probe.
Instead, it was John Dowd, an outside counsel to the president, who left as Trump started hurling insults at Mueller.
Now Cobb is leaving the legal team, too, less than two weeks after Giuliani and Martin and Jane Raskin were added.
Cobb plans to stay through the end of the month to help with the transition.
He could not be immediately reached for comment by DailyMail.com.
He told the Times: ‘It has been an honor to serve the country in this capacity at the White House … I wish everybody well moving forward.’
HEAVY HITTER: Emmett Flood has defended two presidents, a vice president and the Obama administration in a variety of high-profile settings. He’s seen here on the left during a stint representing George W. Bush in 2007
Last month the president said he had ‘full confidence’ in Cobb after reports noted that his view that Trump should cooperate with Mueller came into conflict with Trump’s own opinion.
‘I have agreed with the historically cooperative, disciplined approach that we have engaged in with Robert Mueller (Unlike the Clintons!),’ Trump said. ‘I have full confidence in Ty Cobb, my Special Counsel, and have been fully advised throughout each phase of this process.’
The White House framed the departure as a reflection of Cobb’s desire to retire.
‘For several weeks Ty Cobb has been discussing his retirement and last week he let Chief of Staff Kelly know he would retire at the end of this month,’ White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
Hours later she tacked on to her comments, saying, ‘Emmet Flood will be joining the White House Staff to represent the President and the administration against the Russia witch hunt. Ty Cobb, a friend of the President, who has done a terrific job, will be retiring at the end of the month.’
Flood not only represented Clinton in his impeachment proceedings before the House and the U.S. Senate, he also came to George W. Bush’s assistance as he defended his use of executive privilege.
Vice President Dick Cheney was also repped by Flood, who is currently at Williams & Connolly, during a civil suit involving former CIA operative Valerie Plame.
This morning, Trump appeared to be on a path of historic confrontation with Mueller.
In a Wednesday morning tweet he argued that questions the special counsel wants to ask him about obstruction of justice are ‘a setup & trap’ while claiming that allegations of Russian collusion are a ‘hoax.’
‘There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap),’ Trump said in the tweet that continued to brand the probe a ‘witch hunt.’
A spokesman later reminded that while Trump said he would like to talk to Mueller — but he’d defer to counsel.
A report explained the president’s rising defiance with a quote from someone close to Trump who told Axios: ‘He’s not afraid of high-stakes legal stuff.
‘He’s just going to start swinging and knock people’s heads off,’ the person said.
President Donald Trump is on the path to a historic confrontation with special counsel Robert Mueller if he refuses to answer the DOJ-appointed prosecutor’s questions
‘There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap),’ Trump said in a tweet that continued to brand the probe a ‘witch hunt’
The White House is not disputing the authenticity of a list of 44 questions Mueller wants to ask Trump that leaked to press on Monday, indicating that the document that news outlets obtained is real
On Monday, a list of 44 questions that Mueller plans to ask Trump leaked to press.
The White House has not called the authenticity of the list in dispute, indicating that the document obtained by news outlets, beginning with the New York Times, obtained is real.
It has been batting down charges that the White House put out the list itself, with Trump personally calling the leak ‘disgraceful.’
Trump had previously said he was looking forward to sitting down with Mueller, and Giuliani claimed last month that he expected the probe to soon wrap up.
The president’s defiant tweet on Wednesday morning suggested that he was perhaps changing course based on the nature of the expected questions about his dismissal of his first National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and former FBI director James Comey.
Hogan Gidley, a spokesman for the president, further opened up the possibility this morning when he said that Trump would decide whether or not to speak to Mueller on the advice of counsel.
‘Look, there’s been a lot of rumor, a lot of innuendo and a lot of stories out there that just don’t add up,’ he said of the claim that Mueller is considering a subpoena. ‘We have been absolutely cooperative and transparent with the special investigation. The president has been clear that this is a witch hunt. There is zero evidence of any collusion.’
Continuing he said, ‘That’s where this thing started. Now they’re trying to move to obstruction, and the president has been clear there, too. There’s no obstruction to speak of, either. But out of respect for the process, I just can’t comment on those types of things and instead I have to turn you over to the president’s personal attorneys.’
A spokesperson for the special counsel declined to comment on the report of a threat to subpoena Trump to DailyMail.com.
Giuliani said Wednesday that the legal team’s strategy would be to limit the scope of Mueller’s probe.
‘Some people have talked about a possible 12-hour interview,’ he said. ‘That’s not going to happen, I’ll tell you that. It’d be, max, two to three hours around a narrow set of questions,’ he told the Washington Post.
Giuliani cut the interview time down to two hours in phone interview with Fox News Channel.
‘My position isn’t determined yet. I keep an open mind. We had a very good interchange with the special counsel,’ he said of the possibility of an interview. ‘I did their work for many years, so I respect them and what I’m concerned about because I know how when you’re in the middle of an investigation you can lose some objectivity.’
The former U.S. attorney said he worried that the special counsel would not have an ‘open mind to the fact’ that Trump could be telling the truth and Comey could be the one lying.
‘If they have an open mind to that, then this is something we would consider. If they don’t, then given all of the irregularities of this investigation, we would be foolish to have him be interviewed,’ he said.
Giuliani said he would also want to see the questions the special counsel plans to ask at this point in the process in advance and topics the task force of lawyers deems relevant.
‘Meaning Russia, which may not be relevant any longer, but we want them to tell us that. And their theory of obstruction of justice, which has to do with the Comey firing. The rest of it, the tangential stuff, we’d want to see out,’ he said.
In one tweet this morning Trump directly combated allegations based on the leaked list of questions that there’s a substantive obstruction of justice argument to be made. Trump quoted a lawyer that he had planned to hire before he was ruled out by conflicts of interest that said there isn’t.
Former US Attorney Joe Digenova said in a Sirius XM interview on The Michael Smerconish Program that the questions linked to obstruction of justice are a violation of Trump’s constitutional powers as president.
‘The questions are an intrusion into the president’s Article Two powers under the Constitution to fire any executive branch employee. To ask questions, as Mr. Mueller apparently proposes to do, about what the president was thinking when he fired Comey or Flynn or anybody else is in outrageous, sophomoric, juvenile intrusion into the president’s unfettered power to fire anyone in the executive branch.
‘It is a symptom of how ridiculous this appointment was by Rod Rosenstein when he made the appointment with no evidence of a crime,’ Digenova said.
Asked Tuesday about concerns within the White House about questions that point to an interest by Mueller in investigating obstruction of justice, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders dodged.
She deferred all other questions about the president’s participation in the investigation to his personal attorneys.
Her deputy, Raj Shah, said later on Tuesday that he doubted the leak of the questions would make the president ‘more likely’ to speak to special counsel while directing questions about whether it would make an interview ‘less likely’ to Giuliani and Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow.
Shah also said it remains the White House’s position that cooperating with special counsel will end the probe quicker, which is the ultimate goal, as he invoked an investigation into former President Bill Clinton that he said dragged on as the Democrat and his aides stonewalled the Justice Department.
The Trump spokesman told One America News said the White House had no ‘motivation’ to leak Mueller’s questions.
‘This stuff being strewn out in the New York Times doesn’t really add up and make a lot of sense,’ he said of the benefit of the release to the president. ‘We hope that the special counsel and the president’s legal team operate with confidence and confidentiality because this thing doesn’t help anyone.’
Shah’s comments jived with a New York Times assertion that its list did not come from someone on the president’s legal team.
Speculation swirled on Tuesday evening that former Trump lawyer John Dowd may have put the list out because he is disgruntled.
The Washington Post meanwhile reported on Tuesday night that Mueller in March threatened to court-order the president to talk to him.
Such a confrontation could lead to a Supreme Court battle, the article said.
A source who is said to be close to the president told Axios that a legal fight doesn’t scare Trump, who was known before he became president to be litigious.
‘For the average human, nothing scares them more than legal issues. He. Does. Not. Care. His whole adult life has been spent in litigation.’
If Trump does not submit for questioning, he could find his entire elected term in office consumed by the probe. It has overshadowed many of the achievements the White House claims for itself in his first year on the job, already.
As Rep. Adam Schiff noted, many of the questions not on the alleged collusion between his campaign and Russia that Mueller wants to ask Trump based on the leaked list ‘point to obstruction of justice.’
Lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a pundit and advocate for Trump on the cable news shows, said Tuesday that Trump risks walking into a trap.
‘The strategy is to throw him softballs so that he will go on and on with his answers,’ he said. ‘Instead of sharp questions designed to elicit yes or no, they make him feel very comfortable and let him ramble.’
Dershowitz reiterated his advice on Wednesday on Fox that Trump should not talk to Mueller because he would be setting himself up to fall into a ‘perjury trap.’
THE LEAKED QUESTIONS MUELLER ‘WANTS TRUMP TO ANSWER’
On April 30, a list of questions that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators has sent to President Donald Trump’s lawyers was reported by the New York Times.
The list was created amid negotiations about what topics Trump would be willing to discuss in a potential interview with investigators. Trump has not yet formally agreed to such an interview.
The questions in the following list have been paraphrased and edited to add context. They are grouped according to the primary topic of the question.
CAMPAIGN ‘COLLUSION’ WITH RUSSIA
What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, (above) to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?
1. When did you become aware of the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Don Trump Jr and a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton?
2. What involvement did you have in the communication strategy, including the release of Donald Trump Jr’s emails about the meeting?
3. During a 2013 trip to Russia, what communication and relationships did you have with the Agalarovs, who set up the Trump Tower meeting, and with Russian government officials?
4. What communication did you have with Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater and others, including foreign nationals, about Russian real estate developments during the campaign? (Refers to a failed effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow)
5. What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding any meeting with Putin? Did you discuss it with others?
6. What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding Russian sanctions?
7. What involvement did you have concerning Republican party platform changes regarding arming Ukraine?
8. During the campaign, what did you know about Russian hacking, use of social media or other acts aimed at the campaign?
9. What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?
10. What did you know about communication between Roger Stone, his associates, Julian Assange or WikiLeaks?
11. What did you know during the transition about an attempt to establish back-channel communication to Russia, and Jared Kushner’s efforts?
12. What do you know about a 2017 meeting in Seychelles involving Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to Putin?
13. What do you know about a Ukrainian peace proposal provided to Cohen in 2017?
EX-NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR MIKE FLYNN
What did you know about phone calls that Mike Flynn (left) made with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, (right) in late December 2016?
14. What did you know about phone calls that Mike Flynn made with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, in late December 2016?
15. What was your reaction to news reports on January 12, 2017, and February 8-9, 2017, revealing Flynn had urged Russia not to overreact to Obama sanctions in the calls?
16. What did you know about Sally Yates’s meetings with White House staff to warn that Flynn lied about the content of the calls?
17. How was the decision made to fire Flynn on February 13, 2017?
18. What efforts were made to reach out to Flynn about seeking immunity or possible pardon?
ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS
Did you discuss whether Sessions (above) would protect you, and reference past attorneys general who had protected presidents?
19. What did you think and do regarding the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the investigation into Russian election interference?
20. What efforts did you make to try to get him to change his mind?
21. Did you discuss whether Sessions would protect you, and reference past attorneys general who had protected presidents?
22. What did you think and what did you do in reaction to the news of the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller?
23. Why did you hold Sessions’s resignation until May 31, 2017 before rejecting it, and with whom did you discuss it?
24. What discussions did you have with Reince Priebus in July 2017 about obtaining the Sessions resignation? With whom did you discuss it?
25. What discussions did you have regarding firing Robert Mueller, and what did you do when that consideration was reported in January 2018?
26. What was the purpose of your July 2017 criticism of Sessions, including that he had ‘taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes’?
EX-FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY
Regarding the decision to fire Comey: When was it made? Why? Who played a role?
27. What was your opinion of FBI Director James Comey during the transition?
28. What did you think about Comey’s intelligence briefing on January 6, 2017, about Russian election interference?
29. What was your reaction to Comey’s briefing that day about other intelligence matters, including the allegations in the Steele dossier?
30. What was the purpose of your January 27, 2017, dinner with Comey, and what was said?
31. What was the purpose of your February 14, 2017, meeting with Comey, and what was said?
32. What did you know about the FBI’s investigation into Flynn and Russia in the days leading up to Comey’s testimony on March 20, 2017?
33. What did you do in reaction to the March 20 testimony confirming the FBI was investigating members of the Trump campaign? Describe your contacts with intelligence officials.
34. What did you think and do in reaction to the news that the Mueller probe was speaking to then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, NSA Director Michael S. Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats?
35. What was the purpose of your calls to Comey on March 30 and April 11, 2017?
36. What was the purpose of your April 11, 2017, statement to Fox Business Network, including ‘Director Comey was very, very good to Hillary Clinton, that I can tell you’?
37. What did you think and do about Comey’s May 3, 2017, testimony about his handling of the Clinton email investigation?
38. Regarding the decision to fire Comey on May 9, 2017: When was it made? Why? Who played a role?
39. What did you mean when you told Russian diplomats on May 10, 2017, that firing Comey had taken the pressure off?
40. What did you mean in your interview with Lester Holt about Comey and Russia? (Trump said: ‘I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.)
41. What was the purpose of your May 12, 2017, tweet stating ‘James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!’?
42. What did you think about Comey’s June 8, 2017, testimony regarding Flynn, and what did you do about it?
43. What was the purpose of the September and October 2017 statements, including tweets, suggesting an investigation of Comey for giving false testimony to Congress?
44. What is the reason for your continued criticism of Comey and his former deputy, Andrew G. McCabe?
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