Ty Cobb, the dour mustachioed lawyer who has run White House operations dealing with the Russia probe, is retiring—and Donald Trump has found a highly-qualified replacement, according to the New York Times (paywall): Emmet Flood, one of the attorneys who represented president Bill Clinton during his impeachment process.
Despite his early work for Clinton, Flood has a rich history of working for Republicans. He served as president George W. Bush’s deputy counsel and special counsel dealing with Congressional investigations into the president, represented vice president Dick Cheney, and clerked for legendary conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.
Flood’s record is impressive not just for the names he represented but the results: Clinton ultimately wasn’t convicted by the Senate and Cheney avoided any damages or sentencing for his alleged role in the leak of information about former CIA officer Valerie Plame to the press. Cheney’s chief of staff was indicted (and recently pardoned by Trump) for lying to investigators, and Cheney told the FBI he couldn’t recall what happened 72 times when he was interviewed during the probe.
As the Times notes, Flood’s hiring has not yet been finalized. He would join another high-profile new hire in the president’s legal team: former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who has reportedly reopened talks with Mueller’s team about Trump sitting for an interview. Giuliani has cautioned that Trump and his inner circle are resistant to the idea. In the meantime, the New York Times has obtained a list of 49 questions that special counsel Robert Mueller would like to ask the US president.
The outgoing Cobb came to the job last summer and backed a conciliatory approach to the FBI investigation into Trump’s Russia ties, pushing for the White House to accommodate Robert Mueller where possible, in a so-far successful effort to avoid the special counsel subpoenaing the administration for documents. The Times reports that Flood is likely to develop a more aggressive strategy; something the Clinton’s White House perfected in their campaign to discredit independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr.