Yesterday President Trump brought on a former Clinton lawyer to help defend him against the Mueller investigation.
The new lawyer, Emmet Flood, will be replacing Ty Cobb. Cobb is the White House lawyer who persuaded Trump to cooperate with Mueller for the first year of his investigation. Cobb promised the president that playing nice with Mueller would bring the investigation to a swifter end.
Of course, that hasn’t happened.
So now Trump is turning to Emmet T. Flood for counsel. Flood is a veteran DC lawyer who represented ol’ Slick Willie Clinton himself during the Clinton impeachment process. This is especially interesting because it betrays a lack of confidence on Trump’s part. If the Republicans can’t hold off the anticipated “Democrat wave” in a few months, Trump could be facing impeachment proceedings of his own.
Hiring Bill Clinton’s impeachment lawyer is a pretty big sign that Trump doubts his own party’s ability to weather the coming storm. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in her official statement, indicated that Flood was joining the White House staff to “represent the president and the administration against the Russia witch hunt,” and that’s probably true to some extent.
But in the long term, Flood may end up having to defend Trump against much worse than Mueller’s probing questions.
In fact, there may be no lawyer better suited for the task of staving off legal threats to the president, because Emmet Flood also spent time defending the Bush administration against the allegations of politically-motivated firings of federal prosecutors. (Ahh, remember 2007? A simpler, more innocent time. A time when firing a few Democrat lawyers was a big enough deal to warrant congressional investigation.)
Although nobody can doubt his legal expertise, Flood is certainly as swampy as they come. His law firm, Williams & Connolly, has had its toes in many DC controversies. For example, they represented Killary Clinton during her email-server scandal. Flood himself has represented Dick Chaney and corrupt Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. He even defended Cameron International, the company that built the blowout preventer that failed during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Flood was previously offered a job with the Trump team in 2017, but he (perhaps wisely) declined. It seems that The Donald must have upped his offer, because now Flood is all on board the Trump Train.
Like many other veterans of the grueling Clinton probe, Flood is not a big fan of special counsel investigations. He has already voiced his concerns about the scope of the Mueller investigation.
His predecessor, Ty Cobb, had expressed admiration for Robert Mueller and never used the “witch hunt” terminology that the President has consistently applied when talking about the Mueller inquiry.
Cobb has drawn fire from close Trump allies (like Steve Bannon) for failing to fight back against Mueller’s requests for documents. But Cobb still maintains that cooperating with the investigation was the right move, and that keeping everything voluntary and above board would do less political damage in the long run.
But as the Mueller investigation drags on, it seems Cobb may have been wrong. Now that he is being replaced by Emmet Flood, we can expect to see Mueller’s inquisition meeting a bit more resistance. As all of the lawyers willing to concede ground to Mueller leave Trump’s legal team, the investigation may begin to heat up. With Emmet Flood at the helm of the Trump defense, Mueller will almost certainly have to fight to subpoena Trump’s documents.
No doubt Flood will also advise Trump not to meet with prosecutors. We now know Mueller wants to interview the president – a list of questions he wants to ask Trump has already been leaked to the press. But lawyers like Emmet Flood will tell Trump not to take the bait.
Of course, with a man like The Donald, that advice may well be disregarded. Regardless, Emmet Flood surely has his work cut out for him.