John Dowd, the lead attorney on President Donald Trump’s legal team, resigned Thursday given substantial disagreements with the president over the direction of his defense.
The New York Times reports that Dowd concluded he cannot effectively represent the president since Trump so seldom heeds legal advice.
“John Dowd is a friend and has been a valuable member of our legal team,” said Trump attorney Jay Sekulow. “We will continue our ongoing representation of the president and our cooperation with the Office of Special Counsel.”
The resignation reflects Trump’s continued struggle to attract and retain elite legal representation. A number of Washington’s most-talented litigators, principally Ted Olson of Gibson Dunn, have rebuffed advances from Trump confidants, unwilling to leave comfortable perches at powerful law firms for an unpredictable client who keeps his own counsel.
Dowd was reportedly concerned about the tenor of Trump’s attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller, which have reached a fever pitch in recent days.
In a rather strange sequence, Dowd himself told the Daily Beast in early March that he believes Mueller should end his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He later clarified that he was speaking for himself, and not in his capacity as the president’s lawyer.
He also was said to disagree with Trump over the prospect of an interview with Mueller’s team. Trump is privately willing, even eager, to take questions from the special counsel, while Dowd fears he could invite more legal trouble by lying during such a session. Heretofore, Trump’s lawyers have offered to take questions in writing, or restrict the scope of questions by producing documents of interest to the ongoing inquiry.
The president reiterated Thursday that he is ready to meet with investigators.
“Yes, I would like to, I would like to,” he told reporters when asked about an interview with Mueller.
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