Trump lawyer Ty Cobb bows out as Russian Federation probe picks up

ImageMichael T. Flynn in December
ImageMichael T. Flynn in December
Author

03 May, 2018

Dowd, who left Trump's defence team soon after, told Associated Press that Mueller's team brought up the issue of a subpoena during the negotiation of terms of a possible interview with the president.

Cobb's announced departure is the latest in a series from the president's legal team amid an internal debate over whether or not Trump should agree to be interviewed by Mueller. When Dowd quit in March over disagreements with Trump on legal strategy, Jay Sekulow became the lead lawyer on the investigation and is still waiting for his clearance.

The lack of security clearances could further complicate already sensitive talks with Mueller's team.

According to a report by The Washington Post, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is heading the independent Russian Federation probe, told Trump's legal team that he might subpoena the President to testify if he refused to cooperate with the investigation into cooperation between his 2016 presidential campaign and the Kremlin.

Mueller believes he has legal standing to subpoena a sitting president, even though such a move has never been fully tested, according to the two current USA officials.

Trump has seemed keen to do the interview and has said so publicly, but his lawyers have advised him not to, fearing he could damage himself, given his tendency to give false statements and contradict himself.

"What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russian Federation about potential assistance to the campaign?"

Should Mueller threaten to subpoena Trump or accept written answers to the questions, and if Trump refuses to grant the interview request, then the nation is "headed to a constitutional crisis, because the president's not going to answer these questions under any set of circumstances", diGenova predicted. When federal prosecutors question a potential defendant, who appears voluntarily and is not under oath, the questioners can lie to the person being interviewed, but he cannot lie to them without risk of indictment. If Trump defies a subpoena and/or fires Mueller, the matter could end up in the US Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, another Trump lawyer is on his way out.

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However, the strongest defense for Trump against any allegations of obstruction is that no investigations have been obstructed. Trump has previously said he'd be willing to meet with the special counsel, though will defer to the advice of his attorneys.

Contrary to Trump claims that the questions deal only with obstruction of justice, however, numerous queries do deal with collusion. This approach is also against his self-interest because when he boasts or tweets negatively about the investigation, he appears to put himself in more legal jeopardy. "You'd have to fire the entire FBI and the entire Justice Department" is how fired FBI Director James Comey described the consequences if Trump follows up on his threats.

The law firm of Williams & Connolly confirmed that Flood is departing.

But that, many legal experts have said, is a misunderstanding of the law, as people can be charged by prosecutors with obstruction of justice even if no underlying crime is proven. These questions suggest that Trump may have done more than send nasty tweets in reaction to Mueller's probe. Some touch on Russian meddling and whether the Trump campaign coordinated in any way with the Kremlin.

People supportive of the Mueller probe into Trump affairs have raised concern, however, about what is not on the released list of Mueller questions.

If there is truth underlying this question - if Mueller has hard evidence that the true answer is "yes" - it could only have come to Mueller from Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner and co-defendant and now Mueller's star witness.

Mueller has brought several charges against Manafort already, including money laundering and bank fraud.

The questions also involve key moments from the early months of the Trump administration, including his reaction to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal from the Russian Federation investigation and Trump's firing of his national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

As the Clinton case demonstrates, the issuance of a subpoena would not mean the end of negotiations over an interview. We now know that Mueller picked up the investigation, ran with it and ultimately prosecuted and convicted Flynn.


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