President Trump will replace White House lawyer Ty Cobb with Emmet Flood, who represented former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings.
Cobb has served as the White House’s point man in the Russia investigation. The White House announced Wednesday he will retire at the end of May.
“Emmet Flood will be joining the White House staff to represent the president and the administration against the Russia witch hunt,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “Ty Cobb, a friend of the president, who has done a terrific job, will be retiring at the end of the month.”
Sanders said Cobb has been discussing his retirement “for several weeks” and informed chief of staff John Kelly last week of his decision to step aside.
The New York Times first reported the departure of Cobb, who told the paper “it has been an honor to serve the country in this capacity at the White House. I wish everybody well moving forward.”
With Cobb’s exit, Trump’s legal team has almost completely turned over since special counsel Robert Mueller took over the Russia probe last year.
Cobb had been seen as losing influence on Trump’s legal team in recent weeks as the president brought on a raft of new attorneys. Flood, a veteran Washington lawyer, is expected to take a more aggressive approach toward Mueller.
Cobb lawyer had vocally advocated for cooperating with the special counsel’s probe while urging the president to avoid weighing in publicly on the investigation.
He produced reams of documents for investigators and helped arrange interviews between current and former White House staffers and Mueller’s team, often to the chagrin of outside Trump allies who wanted a more adversarial approach.
In an interview published Wednesday, the White House lawyer said a presidential interview with Mueller is still under consideration
“It’s certainly not off the table and people are working hard to make decisions and work towards an interview,” Cobb told ABC News.
Trump was rumored to be considering hiring Flood far back as March. At the time, the president denied he was weighing a shake up of his team of attorneys.
“The Failing New York Times purposely wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case and am going to add another lawyer to help out. Wrong. I am VERY happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow. They are doing a great job,” he tweeted on March 11.
John Dowd resigned from his position in March amid frustrations over Trump’s penchant to disregard the advice of his attorneys. Since then, several other big-name lawyers have turned down offers to join Trump’s team.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani recently entered the fold
to lead Trump’s team of outside lawyers. He was joined by the husband-and-wife duo of Martin Raskin and Jane Serene Raskin.
Flood brings a wealth of experience in high-profile Washington investigations — something Trump’s legal team had sorely lacked after Dowd’s departure.
He was part of a team of lawyers who represented Clinton in his impeachment proceedings, but did not play a leading role.
Flood later worked two years in the White House counsel’s office under President George W. Bush, tasked with leading the response to congressional investigations.
He has worked at the law firm of Williams & Connolly as a partner representing people and corporations in “complex white-collar matters,” according to his company bio.
The No. 1 question facing Trump’s legal team is whether to consent for an interview with Mueller.
The Times published a list of questions the special counsel purportedly wants to ask the president, covering topics from potential obstruction of justice to whether his campaign colluded with Moscow’s effort to interfere in the 2016 election.
Trump has said he would like to sit down with Mueller, believing he could use an interview to help clear his name. But outside advisers have warned the president he could open himself up to new legal risks, especially if he makes false statements to investigators.
This story was updated at 2:45 p.m.