President Donald Trump is seriously considering hiring private counsel to help manage fallout from multiple controversies that have arisen over the last few weeks related to Russia investigations, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Legal experts say this could be a good idea as investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to swing the 2016 election continue deepening.
“Things keep getting worse for the White House,” Jens David Ohlin, an associate dean at Cornell Law School and a criminal law expert, said. “Getting an attorney is a smart move.”
Keith Whittington, an expert on presidential impeachment and politics professor at Princeton University, explained that obtaining outside counsel makes sense “if the president is facing more individual legal difficulties or the administration needed to bolster the resources that the White House counsel can provide in the current situation.”
A series of bombshell reports in recent weeks have heightened the sense of scandal engulfing the Trump administration.
Earlier this month, Trump abruptly fired FBI director James Comey, who had been overseeing the bureau’s investigation into the Trump campaign, and admitted that “this Russia thing” had been a factor in his decision.
It was also reported that Trump disclosed highly-classified information to Russian diplomats during an Oval Office meeting; that Trump asked Comey in February to drop the FBI’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn; and that Trump told Russian diplomats during their meeting that Comey was a “nut job” and that firing him had taken “great pressure” off of Trump.
Amid the Russia firestorm, Trump has narrowed down a list of four potential candidates for legal representation, according to four people who were briefed on the discussions, and he is leaning towards hiring a team of attorneys instead of just one, according to the Post. The four attorneys the White House is looking at are Marc E. Kasowitz; Robert J. Giuffra Jr.; Reid H. Weingarten; and Theodore B. Olson, according to those who were briefed on the matter.
“I think it is very clear that President Trump needs to heed good legal advice,” Whittington said. “The White House counsel could have provided advice that would have helped avoid some of the administration’s current difficulties, and it is unclear whether the advice was not offered or was not heeded.”
Kasowitz will likely emerge as the frontrunner. He has represented Trump a number of times in the past and has a long relationship with the president.
Joe Lieberman, Trump’s leading candidate to helm the FBI after Comey’s ouster, is currently senior counsel at Kasowitz’s firm. The Post noted that if Trump hires Kasowitz and Lieberman is nominated and confirmed to lead the FBI, it would likely result in a conflict of interest.
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