WASHINGTON, U.S. – Denying reports that he is struggling to find good attorneys to fight his case against collusion, U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to call out the reports as ‘Fake News.’
It all started after The New York Times reported on Sunday that Trump had backtracked from the statement made by his legal team over the hiring of two controversial lawyers to represent the President in the Russia probe.
Last week, one of Trump’s defense attorneys, Jay Sekulow, announced that the president would hire Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing.
The announcement came amid reports that the President was looking at reshuffling his legal team.
DiGenova and Toensing, both former federal prosecutors who now run their own law firm have made their reputation by appearing on television to push conspiracy theories about the Department of Justice and the FBI and are also staunch critics of the Clinton family.
The report pointed out that Toensing also represents the former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, Mark Corallo.
It elaborated that Corallo had informed Special Counsel Robert Mueller that during a conference call with Corallo and Trump last year, the White House communications director, Hope Hicks may have hinted at concealing evidence from the Russia investigation.
While Hicks’s lawyer, Robert Trout, has denied Corallo’s assertion, White House aides quoted in the report revealed that it was Corallo’s testimony which proved to be a factor for Trump’s decision on going ahead with hiring DiGenova and Toensing.
Confirming that DiGenova will not be joining the legal team, Sekulow issued a statement on Sunday and said Trump “is disappointed that conflicts prevent Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing from joining the president’s special counsel legal team. However, those conflicts do not prevent them from assisting the president in other legal matters. The president looks forward to working with them.”
The report also quoted two other people as saying that Trump ultimately didn’t hire DiGenova and Toensing because they didn’t have chemistry with him.
However, before the report appeared, Trump tweeted he was “very happy” with his legal team.
He said on Sunday, “Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case…don’t believe the Fake News narrative that it is hard to find a lawyer who wants to take this on. Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted. Problem is that a new lawyer or law firm will take months to get up to speed (if for no other reason than they can bill more), which is unfair to our great country – and I am very happy with my existing team. Besides, there was NO COLLUSION with Russia, except by Crooked Hillary and the Dems!”
Last week, Trump’s lead defense attorney managing communications between Trump and Mueller, John Dowd abruptly quit the President’s legal team, with reports claiming that Dowd was frustrated because Trump was not following his advice.
Dowd’s resignation came amid disagreements on the key issue of whether Trump should sit for a face-to-face interview with Mueller.
Dowd is said to have maintained that Mueller interviewing Trump was a bad idea, yet Trump told reporters earlier this year that he was eager to speak under oath to the special counsel.
Apart from Dowd, even some of Trump’s close allies fear that the president would be at risk of making a false statement to investigators in a freewheeling conversation.
For months, Dowd and Sekulow had been working to sidestep or significantly narrow the scope of an interview with Mueller, out of fear that Trump could land himself in legal jeopardy.
However, Trump has gone against the advise of his own legal team and has repeatedly told the media he would want to speak to Mueller under oath.
The hiring of DiGenova and Toensing last week indicated that that was the same direction that his new team sans Dowd would head in now.
According to reports, the President is also mulling whether to fire Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer who has advocated for a cooperative approach toward Mueller.