Trump Hires Outside Lawyer For Russia Investigations

Trump's decision to retain outside counsel is not surprising. Whether he will listen to Kasowitz any more than he appears to be listening to his White House advisers, of course, is an entirely different question.

President Trump is bringing in an outside lawyer to help in handling the ongoing Russia investigations:

President Trump has retained the services of a trusted lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, to help him navigate the investigations into his campaign and suspected Russian interference in last year’s election, according to people familiar with the decision.

Kasowitz, who has known Trump for decades, has represented Trump in numerous cases, including on his divorce records, real estate transactions and allegations of fraud at Trump University. He is a partner at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman in New York.

With the appointment last week of a special counsel to probe alleged Russian meddling in the election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, the stakes have been raised considerably for the Republican president and his associates. Trump has repeatedly denied that he did anything improper and has said that he has been told he is not under investigation.

The White House had no immediate comment on Kasowitz’s hiring. Those who confirmed the decision spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the move.

In recent days, Trump has been looking at pulling together a unit of lawyers outside the White House to guide him as he responds to the ongoing federal probe and to congressional investigations. It was not immediately clear Tuesday night what other lawyers might be joining Kasowitz as part of such a team.

According to several people familiar with the deliberations, other attorneys under consideration have included Robert J. Giuffra Jr.; Reid H. Weingarten; and Theodore B. Olson.

A potential complication for Kasowitz is that former senator Joseph I. Lieberman, among Trump’s leading candidates to head the FBI, is currently a senior counsel at his firm.

Were Lieberman officially chosen to run the FBI, and Kasowitz chosen to help with Trump’s legal advice, both men — the one leading the organization investigating possible Russian collusion and the one offering Trump legal counsel on that very issue — would hail from the same firm, likely presenting a conflict of interest.

The White House did not respond this week to requests for comment about how Trump would pay for his outside legal team, the cost of which cannot be covered by the federal government. But campaign finance lawyers said Trump could probably draw funds from his reelection committee to cover legal expenses related to the Russia inquiries, including money donated this year.

Among those also under consideration to join the team, Giuffra, Olson and Weingarten have already spoken with senior administration officials about the team, said a person familiar with the process.

In what may be related news, it’s being reported this morning that former Senator Joe Lieberman is off the short list for F.B.I. Director, perhaps due to the conflict of interest noted above:

In any case, given all of the developments we’ve seen in this matter, including the fact that a special counsel has been appointed to investigate these matters, and the widening Congressional inquiries, Trump’s decision to retain outside counsel is not surprising. Whether he will listen to Kasowitz any more than he appears to be listening to his White House advisers, of course, is an entirely different question.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, Quick Takes, Russia Investigation, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    And…Kasowitz is Sean Hannity’s attorney.

  2. DrDaveT says:

    @CSK:

    And…Kasowitz is Sean Hannity’s attorney.

    So you’re saying his choice of clients is a kink, not just business?

  3. JohnMcC says:

    The TV constantly murmuring in the background had some talking heads discussing this yesterday before the announcement that Mr Kasowitz was the selection. The consensus was that Pres Trump needed an attorney deeply familiar with the ins-and-outs of D.C. and federal gov’t practices.
    It doesn’t sound like that’s what we have here. I suppose a legal shop will be set up and ‘local knowledge’ can be obtained. But the President seems to be starting out at a disadvantage.

    The unremembered talkers also regaled each other with the changes to Pres Trump’s accustomed style that would be advised by an attorney and the unlikelihood that he could cooperate with legal advise.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Trump and Kasowitz have racked up an impressive record of legal failure. There are two possible explanations:

    1) Trump doesn’t listen to Kasowitz.
    2) Kasowitz is a lousy lawyer.

  5. Tony W says:

    @michael reynolds: I’m certain those two bullets are not mutually exclusive.

  6. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    has represented Trump in numerous cases, including on his divorce records, real estate transactions and allegations of fraud at Trump University

    Either that’s an amazingly well-staffed firm or this is professionally alarming. Are such boutique firms more common in the US?