President Donald Trump’s lead attorney for the ongoing Russia probe being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller abruptly resigned on Thursday, according to The New York Times and Washington Post.
John Dowd, who took over the president’s legal team last summer, left because of frustration that Trump refuses to heed his advice:
“In recent weeks, Dowd clashed with the president, including an incident in which he disagreed vehemently with Trump over a legal strategy, according to the people.”
Dowd’s departure also leaves open the question of who will replace him as the head of the Trump legal team. Jay Sekulow and the recently hired Joseph diGenova are both said to be popular with the president and either could be elevated to the lead attorney role.
In an email to the Post, Dowd commented:
“I love the President and wish him well.”
In recent weeks, Dowd has been intimately involved in negotiating a possible meeting between President Trump and the special counsel. If an agreement for a meeting and interrogation by Mueller cannot be reached the two camps, the special counsel may have no choice but to subpoena Trump and demand that he testify before a grand jury.
However, the loss of Dowd also suggests that the Trump legal team may be in chaos, with warring parties fighting over whether or not the president should dismiss Mueller and seek to end the investigation as it moves closer to the Oval Office and members of Trump’s inner circle and family.
But in order to get rid of Mueller, Trump would first have to fire the man overseeing Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Just last week, Rosenstein told USA Today:
“The special counsel is not an unguided missile. I don’t believe there is any justification at this point for terminating the special counsel.”
Trump is also facing legal issues on a separate front: Two women, former adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, are suing the president to be released from non-disclosure agreements they signed in which they agreed not to tell details of their affairs with Trump in 2006. Both will give interviews this week. Daniels will be featured on 60 Minutes Sunday and McDougal will be interviewed by CNN host Anderson Cooper Thursday evening on his nightly show.
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