Trump Losing Another Lawyer, But Adding One Of Bill Clinton’s Impeachment Lawyers

Another one of Trump's lawyers bites the dust, and hired someone with some very specific experience.

One of the longest standing members of President Trump’s legal team is leaving, and he’s being replaced by one of the attorneys who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial:

WASHINGTON — President Trump plans to hire Emmet T. Flood, the veteran Washington lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment, to replace Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer who has taken the lead in dealing with the special counsel investigation, who is retiring, according to two people briefed on the matter.

In a phone interview, Mr. Cobb said he informed the president weeks ago that he wanted to retire. He said he planned to stay at the White House, likely through the end of the month, to help Mr. Flood transition into the new job.

“It has been an honor to serve the country in this capacity at the White House,” he said. “I wish everybody well moving forward.”

Mr. Flood is expected to take a more adversarial approach to the investigation than Mr. Cobb, who had pushed Mr. Trump to strike a cooperative tone. Mr. Flood initially spoke with the White House last summer about working for the president, but the talks ultimately fell apart because Mr. Flood did not want to deal with Mr. Trump’s longtime New York lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, who was overseeing the president’s dealings with the special counsel at the time.

Mr. Flood’s hiring has not been made final, the people cautioned, noting Mr. Trump’s practice of reneging on personnel decisions after they are reported in the press.

It was not clear what prompted Mr. Flood to sign on. The president’s legal team for the special counsel investigation has been marked by turnover and uncertain strategy, complicated by a client liable to dismiss his lawyers’ advice. That factor prompted Mr. Trump’s lead lawyer on the case, John Dowd, to quit this year. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York who is a longtime confidant of the president, has come on board pledging to negotiate an interview for the president with the special counsel.

Emerging as part of those negotiations, a set of questions from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, shows that he wanted to quiz Mr. Trump on an exhaustive array of subjects, including his contacts with Russia as well as his mind-set leading up to and during a number of acts that could construe an attempt to obstruct the inquiry itself.

Mr. Flood was part of team of lawyers who represented Mr. Clinton during his impeachment proceedings. Though he did not have a high-profile role, Mr. Flood did attend the Senate’s deposition of Mr. Clinton’s lawyer and confidant, Vernon E. Jordan Jr.

He was also the lead lawyer in the White House Counsel’s Office during George W. Bush’s second term in dealing with congressional investigations, including the examination of the Bush administration’s decision to dismiss seven United States attorneys. In private practice, Mr. Flood represented former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Mr. Cobb arrived at the White House last summer as some of Mr. Trump’s friends and advisers encouraged the president to fire Mr. Mueller. Mr. Cobb feared that the special counsel was on the verge of issuing subpoenas demanding documents and testimony from White House aides, a move that could have locked the administration in a contentious court fight it was certain to lose. Instead, he repeatedly declared the White House to be in “full cooperation mode.”

He said publicly that the White House had no interest in firing Mr. Mueller, and told friends privately that he would not remain in the administration if Mr. Trump moved to fire the special counsel.

“There is not and will not be any consideration of terminating the special counsel, Bob Mueller,” Mr. Cobb said in an interview in October. “I think the path that he chose of trying to minimize conflict and maximize cooperation is one that benefits the country.”

Mr. Cobb’s hiring appeared to have a soothing effect on the president last year. He repeatedly assured Mr. Trump and the public that the Mueller investigation would end quickly — first by Thanksgiving, then by the start of the new year. Whether that was wishful thinking or an effort to calm an irascible president, Mr. Cobb’s prediction proved incorrect.

Behind the scenes, as Mr. Cobb rushed to turn over records to Mr. Mueller, his relationship soured with the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, who thought Mr. Cobb should have more thoroughly reviewed documents and been willing to assert executive privilege. Mr. Cobb in turn thought that Mr. McGahn’s early response to the investigation had been too slow, bringing the White House to the verge of a subpoena.

Cobb’s departure comes after more than a month of upheaval in the Trump legal team that has at times left them hobbled in their dealings with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigators. It began in March when John Dowd, who had served as the main point of contact between Trump and Mueller and the person most responsible for negotiating the terms of a Trump interview with Mueller, left his position amid disputes about the proper direction of the team’s representation of the President of the investigation. Shortly Dowd’s departure, it was reported that Ted Olson, one of the most preeminent lawyers in Washington, had turned down an invitation to join the team after being courted for what seemed as though it would be a role similar to the one Giuliani is taking on now. Around the same time, it was announced that Joseph DiGenova, who has been a vocal defender of the President’s on television for some time, including pushing implausible conspiracy theories, and his wife Victoria Toensing would be joining the team but that ultimately fell through. Additionally, it was reported that several top-flight Republican lawyers were declining to join the team. This left Jay Sekulow, an attorney who has no real experience in Federal criminal matters and whose primary role on the legal team appeared to be as the guy who appeared on television to speak on behalf of the President, as the main legal representative of the President aside from Cobb, who is actually employed by the White House. More recently, Trump hired former New York City Mayor and U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani who apparently would serve in Dowd’s previous role as chief negotiator with Mueller and his team over the terms of a Trump interview. Regardless of whether or not Cobb’s departure is voluntarily or not the fact that it is happening represents an extraordinary amount of turnover on the Trump legal team in a very short limited amount of time.

The most interesting thing about this announcement, of course, is that Trump is being replaced by an attorney with experience representing a President in impeachment proceedings. This could represent a growing recognition of the fact that the President could face the prospect of impeachment proceedings at some point down the road, especially if the Democrats end up taking control of the House of Representatives in November. Whether or not that actually happens, of course, could depend to a large degree on what results from what, if anything, the Mueller investigation manages to uncover with regard to either collusion or obstruction of justice on the part of the President on those around him. As I’ve said before, we have no way of knowing right now what that result that might be but the Trump team is clearly growing concerned about the investigation leading to this result. Bringing someone with prior experience with impeachment, therefore, would seem to make a lot of sense.

Update: Mediaite reports that Cobb’s departure may have been motivated by Trump’s recent spate of attacks on Special Counsel Robert Mueller:

CNN’s Jim Acosta reported Wednesday that White House Lawyer Ty Cobb decided to abruptly quit his post, in large part, because of the president’s Tweets bashing special counsel Robert Mueller. Citing a source “familiar with Cobb’s departure,” Acosta said the discord between Trump and the White House lawyer had been bubbling up for some time.

“He had been clashing with the president for weeks, over his posture towards the Mueller investigation, that he did not want to be quote of a ‘mud slinging campaign’ that he was uncomfortable with the president’s tweets,” Acosta said. “And he did not want to go down this path of clashing with the special counsel’s office.”

None of that reported discontent, though, is being made public just yet. Speaking with Acosta, Cobb played the good soldier, and did not let on that he’d been having any issues with Trump.

Given the fact that Cobb has generally been encouraging cooperation with Mueller’s probe, it isn’t entirely surprising that he would decide to get out just as the President is apparently kicking up his campaign against that probe.

FILED UNDER: 2018 Election, Congress, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Trump Hires Clinton Impeachment lawyer.

    Gosh, that’s satisfying, isn’t it?

    I do hope @Guarneri toddles along to ask us ‘how that collusion thingy is working out.’ Because it seems to be working out quite well.

  2. CSK says:

    Interesting that Flood didn’t want to be in the same room as Kasowitz.

  3. Kathy says:

    I think it was Marx who said history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then farce. In that sense either:

    Watergate as the tragedy and Trump the farce or

    Trump is tragedy and farce in one package.

    He’s also self-parody as well. I don’t know how that fits in.

  4. the Q says:

    Trump hires Clinton lawyer to protect him from his Republican appointees. Oh, the irony.

  5. As I note in an update, it appears that Cobb’s departure is motivated at least in part by Trump’s Twitter war against Robert Mueller.

  6. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Guiliani says they got rid of Ty Cobb, he didn’t retire. They did it because he was too easy going and now Team Dennison is going to be adversarial…demanding to see evidence and pushing back on a long interview, saying it will only be a couple hours, if at all.
    Is it possible Guiliani also doesn’t understand the meaning of Obstruction of Justice?
    This is getting good.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Another dumb bstrd who thought he could control the man-baby. As I said the other day, it’s like watching sparrows fly into plate glass windows. But funnier.

  8. James Pearce says:

    I really wish there was a concurrent political strategy to remove President Trump from office, not just a legal one, as I believe that will be met with more certain success.

    But oh well. By 2024, we’ll be rid of him anyway.

  9. teve tory says:

    Been away from the internet a couple days. I return to find Mueller’s asking trump about collusion and obstruction and other stuff, trump’s lying on twitter about it, and trump’s lead lawyer is suddenly deciding to spend more time with the Fam.


  10. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    How about we deal with the midterms first? I’m not worried about Trump in 2020. Trump is cooked about medium-well, on his way to charcoal. He doesn’t stand and fight, he declares bankruptcy and floats away on a magic carpet of bullsht.

  11. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Another dumb bstrd who thought he could control the man-baby.

    Emmett Flood is very competent, perhaps the most competent help Dennison has hired. Wonder if he’ll be able to contain the man-baby?

  12. the Q says:

    Over/under on how long Flood lasts?

    I say 60 days……

  13. teve tory says:

    Emmett Flood is very competent, perhaps the most competent help Dennison has hired. Wonder if he’ll be able to contain the man-baby?

    If Emmett Flood is what Clark Kent changed his name too, then…maybe.

  14. teve tory says:

    OT question for the lawyers here:

    Can the police subpoena everything Alexa heard you say? Do you have an Expectation of Privacy in your living room when you have a microphone in the living room streaming to a billion-dollar corporate office in Seattle?

  15. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Apparently Flood is not going to replace Cobb, but Don McGahn. So another one out.
    When Guiliani came on he said that this would be over in a couple weeks. Yeah…not so much.

  16. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    How about we deal with the midterms first?

    I’m all for it. When do we start?

    CNN is on its 7th or 8th hour of it’s 600th day of “nothing but Trump” coverage. They were talking to Corey Lewandowski about a half hour ago.

    I’d like to hear more about the midterms, more about the “partisan risk” Dems in the Senate face, the number of seats needed to take the house and how difficult it will be to take them, but that’s not what we’re getting, is it?

  17. grumpy realist says:

    My question is why in the world Fludd is getting involved with this. Either a) he’s so arrogant he thinks he can avoid all the obvious problems involved with Trump, or b) he’s idealistic beyond the ordinary.

    (Then of course there’s c) he’s totally bored and wants to amuse himself and other legal friends.)

  18. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    Maybe you should broaden your database. MSNBC does pieces all the time on the midterms. Ditto WaPo, NYT, WSJ, Politico, Daily Beast, FiveThirtyEight, The Hill, Cook political report, Booman, and others I’m forgetting. I’ve seen tons of coverage on the midterms. Every little special election gets bigfooted and pored over endlessly.

  19. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Maybe you should broaden your database.

    Maybe I should.

    Maybe everyone else should also dial down their Trump fixation.

  20. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    What do you think the intensity gap in polling is about? Trump has been handing us special elections. I’d like to see Dems develop more of an agenda, but if we’ve learned one thing from Republicans, it’s that anger works as a motivator. Half the country hates Trump, a quarter love him, twenty percent still think he’s better than Hillary, and five percent are evidently in comas. I like those numbers.

  21. An Interested Party says:

    Maybe everyone else should also dial down their Trump fixation.

    Oh? The right’s fixation with Obama certainly didn’t hurt Republicans, now did it? Quite the contrary, in fact…

  22. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Half the country hates Trump, a quarter love him, twenty percent still think he’s better than Hillary, and five percent are evidently in comas.

    I’m going to go ahead and pay faint attention to the polls. Because tooling around on the internet today, I learned a few facts, such as:

    Democrats are defending 25 seats in the Senate, while Republicans are defending 8. To make any gains in the Senate, Democrats will need all of their incumbents to win, while also flipping a whole 25% of Republican incumbents. It does no good to grab a seat in Arizona and lose one in Montana or North Dakota or Missouri or anywhere, really.

    In the House, the Democrats need to flip 24 seats, some of them gerrymandered. Do you think they can do it? I hope they can, but this “half the country hates Trump” thing isn’t going to fly, man, and I think you know it. Yeah, half the country does hate Trump. But they’re all clustered in safe blue or purple districts that might elect a Republican anyway.

    We’ve got an uphill battle just to get to an even split, and then what? Chuck Schumer legalizes marijuana?

    (Seriously, though, that is a task I expect the next Democratic Congress to undertake.)

    @An Interested Party:

    The right’s fixation with Obama certainly didn’t hurt Republicans, now did it?

    If you want to be that person, I shall not stop you.

  23. Hal_10000 says:

    Somewhere in the midwest there’s a big farm where former Trump lawyers are taken. They are let loose to run in the fields and lie in the sunshine and try to forget that they ever heard the name Donald Trump.

  24. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @teve tory:

    You have an expectation of privacy in your living room.

    If Amazon is actually somehow storing what you’re saying to the device on its systems? Not so much. In that instance, they are no longer you’re records. They’re Amazon’s records, and you probably should have had reason to suspect that Amazon would be storing the information, at least temporarily.

    The short version is that your home can’t be bugged without a warrant. Third party business records, however, enjoy far less protection, and only require a subpoena duces tecum. It’s the difference between probable cause and reasonable suspicion (or honestly less than reasonable suspicion).

  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Rudy the Moron is now actually stating that Trump repaid Cohen for the payment to Ms. Daniels.

    * facepalm *

    Stupid Watergate – don’t miss a single minute 🙂

  26. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “today, I learned a few facts, such as:
    Democrats are defending 25 seats in the Senate, while Republicans are defending 8. ”

    Seriously? The man who comes here every day to lecture us that everyone on the left is wrong about anything, and that he is the only one who understands the real solution (which he then refuses to share) did not learn until yesterday simple facts that absolutely everyone who knows anything about politics has known for (at least) months?

    Well, that certainly explains a lot of your posts…

  27. teve tory says:

    Karen Tumulty

    We are heading to Trump going in to see Mueller, pleading the 5th and denouncing the legitimacy of the investigation. This is my May 2 prediction.

    Josh Marshall

    Think good chance this is right. Plan now is total non-cooperation, say investigation is corrupt, rely on GOP base to prevent removal from office. Will probably work.

  28. James Pearce says:


    The man who comes here every day to lecture us that everyone on the left is wrong about anything

    I am utterly unsurprised that is your big takeaway from my posts.

    Because I don’t say they’re wrong. I say they’re superficial and lazy, that they “hope” more than they “do,” that they’re too tolerant of incompetent leaders and kind of full of themselves, believing their own press. I know you don’t like to hear that.

    But if the Dems come out of the midterms with anything more than a slim majority I will be very surprised.

  29. wr says:

    @James Pearce: ” I say they’re superficial and lazy”

    Unlike, say, a guy who opines on politics every day and couldn’t be bothered to learn about the actual state of the senate race until yesterday.

  30. James Pearce says:


    Unlike, say, a guy who opines on politics every day and couldn’t be bothered to learn about the actual state of the senate race until yesterday.

    Look, you should really re-evaluate your “I’m gonna smash on this guy for learning something” instincts, especially when in order to learn that I had to smash through a mound of progressive dis-info.

  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    Dude we will ALL be surprised if Dems get more than a slim majority. As will anyone who has paid any attention to the massive amount of coverage on the midterms. You’ve arrived late to the game.

  32. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    As will anyone who has paid any attention to the massive amount of coverage on the midterms.

    What about the people paying attention to the massive amount of coverage of the oncoming “wave?”

  33. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “What about the people paying attention to the massive amount of coverage of the oncoming “wave?””

    Well, if you’d ever read past the headline, you might discover that most of them discuss the fact that the Dems need a big wave just to get the slim majority you’ve just learned about due to the lopsided nature of this year’s senate races and the Republican gerrymandering of so many House seats.

    In other words. everything you’re breathlessly announcing is old news to, well, just about everyone. You’re sounding like Donald Trump pointing out that “no one knows” that Lincoln was a Republican or health care is hard because he never bothered to learn anything.

  34. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:
    If you had read the articles about the potential wave, rather than just the headlines, you would have seen that it will take a wave to win a small majority in the house and the same is true for the senate. The structural advantages in the house, gerrymandering, rural base, and more incumbents, all tilt republican. It will take a wave to overcome that. The structural advantage in the senate you apparently just learned, despite it being mentioned here in OPs and comments in threads that you participated in as well as being widely reported everywhere politics is reported will take a wave to overcome. That has been the point of the wave coverage, that it makes taking control possible.
    Read more than headlines, listen to more than the elements of each side that annoy you, pay real attention to things you are going to publicly opine on. Seriously man, you should be embarrassed and you should just own up to it rather than digging your hole deeper by pretending that this information was somehow difficult to come by.

  35. James Pearce says:


    if you’d ever read past the headline


    If you had read the articles about the potential wave

    There will be no “potential wave.” Contrary to what you seem to think, avoiding the articles with headlines about the “potential wave” does not make me the ignorant one.

    Seriously man, you should be embarrassed

    I have been embarrassed since Nov 9th, 2016. You ever hear me say “Pass the popcorn?”

    No, you have not.

  36. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:

    Contrary to what you seem to think, avoiding the articles with headlines about the “potential wave” does not make me the ignorant one.

    Commenting on how wrong they are without reading them makes you the ignorant one.
    Commenting on other people being superficial and not paying attention to the important things while your own knowledge on the subject is a mile wide and an inch deep makes you the ignorant one.
    Being an avid follower and commenter at a political blog that has on numerous occasions in threads you have commented on talked about difficulty Democrats face in these midterms because of how many seats they have to defend while somehow not picking up on the fact Democrats have many more seats to defend until yesterday makes you the ignorant one.
    Seriously, you should be ashamed of that level of ignorance on a topic that you often comment on. Maybe next time you are tempted to comment on a topic, read the OP and come in with a baseline of knowledge.

  37. James Pearce says:


    makes you the ignorant one

    If all you want to do is blast me personally, I don’t care. I know I’m a despicable human being, and I know that because I’m a human being.

    That I can use the term “wave” and you’re not mystified about what I’m talking about kind of demonstrates that it is, in fact, a common idea floating out there in the discourse. Commenters here have talked about it. Hell, here‘s a piece I found with two seconds of Googling that starts with the sentence:

    2018 is sure starting to look like a wave election for Democrats.

    So I’m glad there’s an awareness among some Democrats, especially the readers of this esteemed blog, that the “best case” mid-term result is a slim, paralyzed majority in what remains a very Republican country, but don’t tell me other Democrats don’t expect a wave or that I’m “the ignorant one” because I don’t buy that particular line of bullshit.

    (Got stuck in the mod queue because I used a fake e-mail address in a snarky manner. I’m editing my comment because, on reflection, that’s dumb and bad form.)

  38. Grewgills says:

    James Pearce, read the article you linked.
    You are demonstrating AGAIN that you are making a completely superficial analysis while your constant refrain is that liberals too superficial.
    You aren’t a despicable person as far as I know, you are just ignorant on what you are publicly opining about.