Meet Trump's new lawyer in the Russia probe

After former White House lawyer Ty Cobb left his position, President Trump hired former President Clinton's impeachment lawyer Emmet Flood to join the White House legal team.

Posted: May 4, 2018 12:25 PM
Updated: May 4, 2018 12:39 PM

With one of former President Bill Clinton's impeachment-era lawyers headed back to the White House, this time to help President Donald Trump cope with Robert Mueller's investigation, it's worth asking: What can Trump learn from the Clinton White House's misadventures?

The departure of Trump lawyer Ty Cobb, followed by news of the hiring of Emmet Flood, could signal a new and less friendly tack from Trump's ever-evolving legal team, which has mostly played nice with the special counsel. The President, meanwhile, routinely dismisses the inquiry as a "WITCH HUNT."

Clinton, of course, didn't have access to a smartphone with a Twitter app, so this -- for about a thousand reasons -- is hardly an apples to apples comparison. But his and Trump's fates could be merging on at least one front, as Mueller appears closer to pushing, perhaps via subpoena, for Trump to testify under oath.

So with Clinton's case in mind, what's this president to do?

1. Get his story straight — because the questions are a-comin'

As CNN legal analyst and Supreme Court guru Joan Biskupic wrote on Wednesday, past precedent suggests that, one way or another, Trump will be subject to questioning (even if, for now at least, the prospect is very much open for debate).

A look at the outline of Mueller's potential queries, as reported by The New York Times on Monday, suggests Trump's current tactics -- yelling on Twitter being at the top of the list -- won't be of much use when and if he's confronted with some very direct, specific asks.

Clinton, when under oath with special counsel Ken Starr, tried to slip similarly narrow questions with a round of now-infamous riffs of legalese. See: his memorable disquisition on the definition of "is."

2. Don't (try to) be too clever

Simple one, here.

Though no stranger to legal proceedings, Trump doesn't possess Clinton's legal expertise (for all the good it did him). He isn't going to talk his way out of this. He could, should he try, talk himself into something way worse -- much like Clinton did. Clinton's tortured denials are now among the most-remembered lines of his presidency.

Trump has already taken one cue from Clinton and denied denied denied there was any collusion between his campaign and Russia. If there is, in fact, "NO COLLUSION" or otherwise untoward or illegal behavior to conceal, and only potentially embarrassing political details, the applicable lesson from the Clinton saga is: Either be truthful -- or quiet.

3. Not on camera...

There is next-to-no shot that Trump is going to come out looking good, by anyone's standards, after a few hours under the gun with Mueller.

Again, Clinton learned that lesson firsthand. The transcripts of his grand jury testimony would have been bad enough, but the tape of it was the real shocker. Clinton looked anything but slick. He looked tired and defeated and sounded, well, like he was lying.

There's a very good and probably correct argument to be made that, in the current climate, the public reaction wouldn't compare to what it was two decades ago, no matter what Trump says. That is, of course, barring some revelation about a particular 2013 visit to Moscow. And while people might be (too) used to Trump's lying, there's a difference -- in how it might be perceived -- between his triumphantly volunteering blatant untruths and offering them defensively, after being cornered by a skilled prosecutor.

4. Make peace with the 2016 election results

This would be a good time for Trump to internalize that, no, he didn't win the popular vote and, for his own sake, that it's fine: Everyone knew the rules going in.

Why, a sane person might ask, would this matter?

The answer, sane person, is that so much of Trump's anger -- and rationalizing and, ultimately, false claims that millions of undocumented immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton -- has been rooted in his frustration at the suggestion that someone, or some other country's intelligence apparatus, should be credited for delivering his election win. Being honest won't cost Trump anything here. His base thinks he's the ultimate political iconoclast and that this whole exercise is bogus. His opponents think he's a fraud, or worse, and aren't going to be disabused of that idea by what would likely be a transparently misleading answer.

Telling Mueller the truth about his campaign's contacts with Russia won't change any of it. Lying as an ego booster won't either -- except that it could further endanger the presidency he fought so hard to claim.

5. Don't blink

Clinton ended his second term with his popularity soaring. Is it likely Trump will follow the same trajectory? No. Do we know anything, really, for sure? Definitely not.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 728811

Reported Deaths: 13405
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion996911740
Lake53548966
Allen40529675
St. Joseph35596550
Hamilton35536408
Elkhart28470441
Tippecanoe22375218
Vanderburgh22293396
Porter18701307
Johnson17923378
Hendricks17199315
Clark12943191
Madison12612339
Vigo12437246
Monroe11873170
LaPorte11856210
Delaware10667186
Howard9895216
Kosciusko9390117
Hancock8260140
Bartholomew8058155
Warrick7777155
Floyd7653178
Wayne7035199
Grant7032174
Boone6687101
Morgan6557139
Dubois6150117
Marshall6016111
Dearborn580077
Cass5794105
Henry5699103
Noble559883
Jackson501172
Shelby490696
Lawrence4522120
Harrison435072
Gibson434792
DeKalb427185
Clinton427053
Montgomery423688
Whitley395239
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Steuben385557
Miami381166
Knox371890
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White313554
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Greene277885
Posey271333
Scott265653
LaGrange265570
Clay259447
Washington240332
Randolph239781
Spencer232131
Jennings229849
Starke215953
Fountain212046
Sullivan211442
Owen198756
Fulton194840
Jay193630
Carroll188520
Orange182654
Perry182637
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Franklin167835
Tipton162845
Parke146116
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Pike133734
Pulaski116645
Newton107734
Brown101941
Crawford99514
Benton98514
Martin88615
Warren81815
Switzerland7858
Union71010
Ohio56511
Unassigned0414

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1082815

Reported Deaths: 19428
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1258081400
Cuyahoga1119722115
Hamilton799721205
Montgomery514061014
Summit47145945
Lucas42119788
Butler38338584
Stark32273906
Lorain24997481
Warren24274298
Mahoning21546588
Lake20653369
Clermont19761238
Delaware18512133
Licking16418212
Fairfield16176199
Trumbull16032468
Medina15268264
Greene15063244
Clark13983299
Wood13080189
Portage12839203
Allen11639232
Richland11349199
Miami10670217
Muskingum8803133
Wayne8793211
Columbiana8778229
Pickaway8564121
Marion8523135
Tuscarawas8473244
Erie7888154
Hancock6914127
Ross6846155
Ashtabula6805170
Geauga6686148
Scioto6406101
Belmont5881167
Union570848
Lawrence5549102
Jefferson5525151
Huron5430119
Darke5355123
Sandusky5347120
Seneca5282121
Athens519158
Washington5155109
Auglaize490784
Mercer480385
Shelby469293
Knox4486110
Madison435661
Putnam4278100
Fulton422469
Ashland421789
Defiance419697
Crawford3975107
Brown394157
Logan381676
Preble379598
Clinton372163
Ottawa366679
Highland355062
Williams339275
Champaign331658
Guernsey315653
Jackson312551
Perry294950
Morrow284939
Fayette281950
Hardin270864
Henry268666
Coshocton265257
Holmes2603101
Van Wert243463
Adams237852
Pike237634
Gallia235349
Wyandot231055
Hocking215362
Carroll191547
Paulding172640
Meigs144840
Noble133337
Monroe132042
Morgan108423
Harrison108137
Vinton83115
Unassigned02
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