Would You Want to Be Donald Trump’s Lawyer?

Would You Want to Be Donald Trump’s Lawyer?


John Dowd in New York in 2011.

Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

On the day last June that President Trump hired John Dowd, a high-powered and aggressive defense lawyer, to take charge of his personal legal team, Mr. Dowd received a warm welcome. “When John Dowd speaks, everybody listens,” a spokesman for the team said.

Well, not everybody. Mr. Dowd resigned abruptly on Thursday, after concluding that Mr. Trump was increasingly ignoring his advice.

Advice like, do not under any circumstances sit for an interview with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials, as well as whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice by, among other things, firing the F.B.I. director, James Comey, who was previously running the investigation.

Mr. Dowd, like any reasonably sentient person, knows there is no way that a conversation with Mr. Mueller would go well for the president. Mr. Trump doesn’t have a relationship to the truth, but may at one point have had a fleeting affair with it, albeit one apparently covered by a nondisclosure agreement. He lies with pleasure and abandon, then brags about it later. Yet on Thursday, Mr. Trump, who has built his career on the belief that he can brazen his way through anything, told reporters that he “would like to” testify.

At least when Mr. Dowd climbs into bed tonight, he can rest easy, knowing that he did all he possibly could for an impossible client. His last significant public comment as Mr. Trump’s lawyer was to call on the Justice Department to shut down the Russia investigation — a position he attributed to Mr. Trump before backtracking and claiming it as his own.

The president’s legal team appears to be falling apart just as his legal problems are mounting, both from the Russia investigation and, more recently, from women who say they’ve had affairs with Mr. Trump and are seeking to be released from agreements to silence them. Before Mr. Dowd’s departure, Mr. Trump had spoken to associates about firing Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer who has been advocating a cooperative approach toward Mr. Mueller. Meanwhile Mr. Trump has reached out to, and been rebuffed by, at least two legal heavyweights in the last few weeks: Emmet Flood, who represented President Bill Clinton during his impeachment process, and the conservative superstar Ted Olson.

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