The departure of President Donald Trump’s lead lawyer, John Dowd, on Thursday comes at a tumultuous time during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia election meddling—and raises questions about whether additional lawyers may be brought on board.
Dowd confirmed his resignation to The Daily Beast, saying: “I love the president and wish him well.” The New York Times reported that he had considered “leaving several times in recent months and ultimately concluded that Mr. Trump was increasingly ignoring his advice.”
Trump has stated he’d be willing to sit down with Mueller, which Dowd reportedly thought was “a bad idea.” The resignation comes days after Dowd told The Daily Beast that he would like to see “an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation.”
“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd emailed The Daily Beast early on Saturday morning.
Dowd’s apparent replacement, longtime D.C. lawyer Joe DiGenova, started working on Trump’s legal team earlier this week. It’s likely the two big personalities—Dowd’s and DiGenova’s—would have clashed had Dowd stayed in the team.
The change has sparked widespread rumors about who might be next to join the president’s legal team. Alan Dershowitz, a lawyer who does civil liberties work and frequent cable TV appearances, told The Daily Beast he is not interested in the post.
“I have no interest in changing my status,” said Dershowitz, who has been largely sympathetic to Trump’s position that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt.”
On Thursday, prominent Washington D.C. attorney Robert Bennett called on his former law partner Ty Cobb to follow Dowd in leaving the White House’s legal team.
“I hope my friend Ty Cobb will leave the team. He’s not helping himself or his reputation,” Bennett told Politico.
Cobb, who has represented the White House writ large in response to the Mueller investigation, has similarly called for Trump to cooperate with the probe.
It’s unclear how or if the president’s legal strategy will change in Dowd’s absence. Mueller has been building a case related to Trump on obstruction of justice involving the president’s conversation with James Comey about Michael Flynn, according to a source familiar with the probe. In the past, Dowd has expressed concerns about Trump sitting down for an interview with Mueller.