Special Counsel Investigation: Trump talks with Clinton lawyer to join team

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is in discussions with a veteran Washington lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during the impeachment process about joining the White House to help deal with the special counsel inquiry, according to four people familiar with the matter.

The lawyer, Emmet T. Flood, met with Trump in the Oval Office this past week to discuss the possibility, according to the people. No final decision has been made, according to two of the people.

Should Flood come aboard, the two people said, his main duties would be a day-to-day role helping the president navigate his dealings with the Justice Department.

Two people close to the president said the overture to Flood did not indicate any new concerns about the inquiry. Still, it appears, at the least, to be an acknowledgment that the investigation is unlikely to end anytime soon.

Flood would not replace Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer who, since the summer, has taken the lead role in dealing with the special counsel, Robert Mueller. But Cobb has told friends for weeks that he views his position as temporary and does not expect to remain in the job for much longer.

Cobb's primary task, producing documents for Mueller and arranging for White House aides to meet with prosecutors, is largely complete. Trump's personal lawyers have been handling negotiations with Mueller over the terms of a presidential interview.

Flood had been on the wish list of some of the president's advisers to join his legal team last year, and he is the only person the White House has been in contact with about such a role.

White House officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Flood declined to comment.

This is not the first time that the president's advisers have considered a job for Flood, who worked in the White House counsel's office under George W. Bush and represented Vice President Dick Cheney.

As recently as the summer, Flood, who works at the law firm Williams & Connolly, turned down an opportunity to represent Trump. It is not clear what has changed since then. People close to Trump have long praised Cobb as having a deft touch with an often mercurial president. Throughout last year, Cobb kept Trump from publicly airing grievances against Mueller, in part by telling him that the investigation would be wrapped up by December, or soon after — an assessment that proved too optimistic.

But there have been signs in recent months that Trump might be looking to shake up his legal team and change his approach to Mueller's investigation. The president has polled his advisers and friends, asking them what they think of Cobb, who persuaded Trump to take a cooperative approach to the inquiry.

In private conversations, Trump has seesawed between expressing confidence in Cobb's claim that the inquiry will wrap up in relatively short order and he will be exonerated, and sounding frustrated with his team's legal strategy.

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