Trump doesn’t have a single centralized team of lawyers like Mueller. He has compartmentalized groups of lawyers with specific functions, sometimes working against the goals of the others. While Mueller’s team almost never speaks, letting their actions do the talking. Trump’s lawyers almost never shut up. He has personal lawyers, corporate lawyers, a White House Counsel, impeachment lawyers, and television lawyers whose only purpose is to provide distractions and appease his base.
Not to say there are no good lawyers in the group. Emmett Flood who is handling the Russia investigation is an excellent lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment and served as Special Counsel to George W Bush during his second term. He knows the Constitutional issues and will fight for every inch of White House territory when Mueller comes for Trump. The President is allegedly considering removing Flood from his current position, making him his White House Counsel to replace the departed Don McGahn. McGahn and Flood were close and McGahn has already provided over 30 hours of interviews to the Mueller team. Moving Flood to White House Counsel would make Trump weaker, not stronger, he would work for the people, not the President and have no attorney/client privilege. Don’t expect Trump to make a wise decision, just one that feels good.
The best thing you can say about the rest of Trump’s lawyers is that they are an upgrade from who he had before. The poor performance of the previous batch is not entirely their fault. They made the mistake of believing their client when your client is Donald Trump, that’s a foolish mistake. Trump told them “he’d done nothing wrong.” His lead attorney at the time, Ty Cobb, advised full cooperation to bring the inquiry to an early end. They turned over hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and emails. Something Flood never would have done without a subpoena. Cobb had to spend his year of service to Trump looking over his shoulder, regularly rumored to be replaced by some lawyer(s) Trump saw on Fox News.
John Dowd once headed up Trump’s Russia probe team. An example of his efficiency is that he personally donated more than the legal limit for campaign contributions. When asked if he knew he’d violated the law, he responded he was, “not aware.” Cobb and Dowd were once overheard discussing strategy in a public restaurant by a New York Times reporter at a nearby table. Dowd eventually resigned from the team after disagreeing with Trump on strategy.
Jay Sekulow’s background is in Constitutional law with almost no criminal law or white-collar crime background. Unfortunately, much of the team on the other side is well-versed in uprooting criminal enterprises and uncovering fraud and money laundering. Initially hired to support Cobb and Dowd, he found himself temporarily in charge of the Russia probe prior to Flood coming on board.
No summary of Trump’s lawyers should omit the married couple whose hiring was announced and then they declined to take the job because of “conflicts of interest.” Trump found Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing watching Fox News and liked “how tough they were.” Trum announced their hiring without letting his other lawyers know. After internal discussions, the duo indicated they could not accept the position because of conflicts with other clients they represent.
And then there’s Rudy. Always an egomaniac but once a fine prosecutor. Rudy Guiliani hasn’t been a real lawyer in some time but now does play one on tv. Rudy’s apparent job is to send the media chasing after his ridiculous comments and occasional admissions of something Trump previously lied about. You could make the case he destroyed his reputation with his behavior with his wife and mistress while Mayor of New York. Now nothing else he does matters, simply happy to be back in the limelight.
There are two main reasons that the best defense lawyers for the job are working for Jared Kushner and others currently or formerly with Trump’s administration or campaign. 1. Trump was apparently slow to realize he was in trouble and stood idly by while everyone else lawyered up. 2. Trump has a reputation for not paying his lawyers and few would work for him. Some like former personal attorney Michael Cohen found ways to make money by being in Trump’s orbit and performing illegal tasks at Trump’s direction. Cohen can currently be found begging Mueller to be a cooperating witness against Trump and hoping for a light sentence after pleading guilty to 8 criminal counts in Federal court.
Trump’s team is outwitted and overmatched. They’re also outnumbered as he’s having to fight on several fronts. In addition to the having to fight the resources of Mueller, the FBI, and Justice Department. Civil suits are piling up including cases by pornstar Stormy Daniels, represented by the ubiquitous Michael Avenatti. There’s Playboy Playmate Karen MacDougal who alleges a year-long affair. Under the radar is Summer Zervos who has already won the right to depose the President before year’s end. Much like Trump, his squadron of attorneys seem to lack focus and direction. After the November midterms, the battle will begin. Mueller’s team is ready. Trumps?
Next: Mueller Strategy Session