Trump lawyer Ty Cobb bows out as Russia probe picks up

Special Counsel Robert Mueller (L) is probing possible obstruction of justice as well as collusion in Russia's meddling in the US elections
AFP

Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump’s lead lawyer for dealing with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe is stepping down at the end of the month, the White House confirmed Wednesday.

The New York Times, which first reported the development, said Ty Cobb would be replaced by veteran Washington lawyer Emmet Flood, adding that his hiring has not been made final.

Cobb’s announced departure is the latest in a series from the president’s legal team amid an internal debate over whether or not Trump should agree to be interviewed by Mueller.

“For several weeks Ty Cobb has been discussing his retirement and last week he let Chief of Staff (John) Kelly know he would retire at the end of this month,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Flood represented Bill Clinton during his 1998-99 impeachment proceedings.

Cobb took the lead of the White House team after the previous lead lawyer, John Dowd, quit in March convinced that Trump was not following his advice.

Dowd vehemently opposed Trump submitting to an interview, but the US president at the time was reportedly inclined to talk to the special prosecutor, believing it would lead to a quicker end to the probe.

Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani joined the president’s legal team last month, amid reports he intends to negotiate with Mueller on an interview with Trump.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Mueller had warned Dowd in March that he could issue a subpoena for the president to appear before a grand jury if he declined to be interviewed.

Questions submitted by Mueller’s team show he is probing possible obstruction of justice by the president in the firing of former FBI director James Comey.

Mueller also wants to ask Trump what he knew about attempts by campaign aides to seek Russian assistance during the 2016 US election campaign, according to the questions leaked to the New York Times.

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