By Carol D. Leonnig,
President Trump has chosen a new lawyer to join the White House and take the lead on issues related to ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to two people familiar with the decision.
Ty Cobb, a former prosecutor and defense lawyer at Hogan Lovells, will seek to play the role of crisis manager and disciplinarian in a White House that has struggled to deal with continuing questions about the federal and congressional probes that have dominated the early months of Trump’s presidency.
Ever since the Justice Department appointed a special counsel for the Russia investigation in May, the administration has endured week after week of revelations about meetings that top officials did not disclose and previous statements that proved partial or misleading. Trump has complained that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation is a “witch hunt” that is unfairly stalling his agenda.
The president has been searching in recent weeks for a lawyer who could work inside the White House on the matter in an attempt to instill some sense of order to what can be a chaotic environment. He had considered Emmet Flood, William Burck and several others for the position. The need for someone to fill this role became more urgent when the New York Times broke the news Saturday that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort together held a meeting in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer on the belief that she had some damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
On Friday, a White House spokesperson said it was not ready to issue a statement on the president’s choice of a new lawyer and Cobb’s office said he was traveling and was not immediately available for comment.
The president was reported to have met with Cobb on July 3.
Trump will continue to be personally represented by his longtime New York-based lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz.
Meanwhile, Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has decided that veteran Washington defense lawyer Abbe Lowell will take the lead in representing him in the Russia-related inquiries being conducted by Mueller and congressional committees, according to a statement and three people briefed on the decision. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, had originally hired well-known Washington criminal-defense lawyer Jamie Gorelick to represent them on matters related to their government service, but Kushner recently added Lowell to the team to avoid the potential conflict created because Gorelick and Mueller both worked at the law firm WilmerHale. Gorelick will continue to represent Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
“Of course I am still part of Jared Kushner’s legal team,” Gorelick said in a statement. “As we have stated, once Bob Mueller and three of our partners left the firm to form the Special Counsel’s Office, we advised Jared to get independent legal advice on whether to continue with us as counsel. As a result of this process, Jared decided that Abbe would represent him in the Russia-related inquiries. We are currently helping Abbe’s team.”
The investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and whether any members of the Trump campaign worked with Russian officials to hurt Clinton have hung over the White House for months and have proved to be a constant irritant to the president.
Mueller’s probe has grown to look at whether the president obstructed justice when he fired FBI Director James B. Comey in May, and he is also closely scrutinizing two key aides to Trump — Manafort, his onetime campaign manager, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Rosalind Helderman, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker contributed to this report.