President Donald Trump vehemently denied Sunday morning that he is having any trouble finding a lawyer who would want to represent him in the continuing Russia probe. Yet shortly after he sent a defensive series of tweets, his attorney made official that there is trouble in Trump legal land as the president decided not to hire two lawyers who had been announced as new additions to his team less than a week ago.
Although Trump didn’t outright say it, his series of tweets implied that the biggest obstacle to finding attorneys was conflicts of interest. Plus he also tapped into the popular narrative of lawyers as crooks, noting that any new lawyer would do his or her best to rack up billable hours.
“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,” Trump said on Twitter. “Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted.”
The whole point is moot anyway because it would take any new lawyer or law firm “months to get up to speed (if for no other reason than they can bill more)” and the president insists he is “very happy with my existing team.”
Trump sent out the tweets shortly before it became official that Trump won’t actually hire a lawyer that his attorney had said on Monday would be joining his legal team. The lawyer, Joseph diGenova, who is often a guest on Fox News, where he has frequently blasted the Russia probe by special counsel Robert Mueller, apparently has insurmountable conflicts that prevent him from joining the president’s team. Although Trump didn’t know DiGenova he tried to get him on his team because he liked the way he sounded on television, according to the Washington Post.
DiGenova’s hiring was announced Monday and there was talk that he could join Trump’s team with his wife and law partner Victoria Toensing. But the whole thing apparently began to unravel after a Thursday meeting with the president. And on Friday, Jay Sekulow, the counsel to the president, hinted at trouble ahead by saying htat DiGenova’s hiring was waiting for a review of potential conflicts of interest.
“The President is disappointed that conflicts prevent Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing from joining his 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,” Sekulow said in a statement Sunday morning.
This latest news on Trump’s legal team comes mere days after his former lead lawyer, John Dowd, quit on Thursday at a time when the president has to decide whether to sit with Mueller for an interview. Dowd reportedly got tired of the president increasingly ignoring his advice. Earlier in the week, the Washington Post reported that former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, who is perhaps best known for representing George W. Bush in Bush v.
Gore, made it clear he wasn’t interested in joining the president’s legal team.
When Trump took to Twitter Sunday morning, the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman wrote that the president’s tweets were a “prelude” to the news about DiGenova and Toensing, noting that she “represents other witnesses,” including Mark Corallo.