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Trump-Russia collusion investigations

’I love the president!’ Trump’s lead lawyer, John Dowd, resigns days after calling for end to Mueller probe

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 March, 2018, 1:03am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2018, 3:44am

John Dowd resigned on Thursday as one of US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyers, the latest sign of a shake-up within the president’s legal team as the Russia investigation enters a critical stage.

Dowd, 77, had been handling sensitive negotiations with special counsel Robert Mueller over a possible interview with Trump, and had recently called for an end to the investigation.

In an email, Dowd said: “I love the president and wish him well.”

Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s other lawyers, said in a statement: “John Dowd is a friend and has been a valuable member of our legal team. We will continue our ongoing representation of the President and our cooperation with the Office of Special Counsel.”

Dowd recently generated controversy by suggesting that the Department of Justice should end its investigation into whether anyone among Trump’s associates colluded with Russians who interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The ongoing investigation has grated on Trump, who has denied any collusion and refers to the probe as a “witch hunt.”

Dowd attracted attention on Saturday when he told The Daily Beast he hoped Mueller’s investigation would be shut down. 

In an email, Dowd said “I pray” that the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller, “will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility [OPR] and attorney general Jeff Sessions”, who fired the former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe on Friday. 

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That, Dowd said, would “bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier”. 

Dowd first said he was speaking for the president but then rowed back, saying he had spoken in a personal capacity. He then told Axios that Trump “didn’t have any problem” with his statement. 

Dowd had attracted controversy before. In December, he insisted “the president cannot obstruct justice” after Trump tweeted: “I had to fire [former national security adviser Michael] Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.” 

The tweet raised questions about whether Trump had attempted to obstruct justice when he asked the then FBI director James Comey to halt an investigation into Flynn the day after he was fired. 

Dowd later insisted he wrote the tweet in question, not Trump.  

Before representing Trump, Dowd was best known for his role in Major League Baseball’s investigation of the all-time hits leader Pete Rose, for gambling. As a result of Dowd’s controversial report, Rose was banned from baseball and made ineligible for induction in the Hall of Fame.

Some of Trump’s allies have urged him to be more aggressive in dealing with the special counsel’s office.

On Monday, Trump expanded his legal team by hiring Joe DiGenova, a former federal prosecutor who has suggested that law enforcement officials are trying to frame the president.

The shakeup comes less than two weeks after Trump insisted on Twitter he was “VERY happy” with his legal team and said his lawyers were “doing a great job”.

There have also been conversations with other potential lawyers as well. 

However, Ted Olson, a prominent and widely respected Republican lawyer, declined to join Trump’s team this week, according to a source with knowledge of the exchange.

Besides DiGenova and Sekulow, Trump is also represented by Ty Cobb, who works in the White House and remains on staff there.