Donald Trump’s lead lawyer for the federal special counsel probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election resigned on Thursday.
John Dowd stepped down after concluding Trump was increasingly ignoring his advice, according to a source quoted in the New York Times.
“I love the president and wish him well,” Dowd said in an email to Reuters, without giving a reason for stepping down.
Dowd has been the lead lawyer since last summer, when longtime Trump personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz stepped down, but the latest shakeup to the legal team has been rumoured for several days.
Dowd and Jay Sekulow, who also represents Trump in the Russia probe, have been in negotiations in recent weeks over a possible interview for Trump with special counsel Robert Mueller, people familiar with the matter have told Reuters.
Sekulow said in a statement that Dowd was “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,” Sekulow said.
Earlier this week, Trump beefed up his legal team with a lawyer who accuses the FBI and US Justice Department of trying to frame Trump with false charges of colluding with Russia during the 2016 election campaign, possibly signalling a more aggressive drive to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Washington lawyer Joseph diGenova will join the legal team this week, according to attorney Jay Sekulow, who also represents Trump.
Last week, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters that veteran Washington lawyer Emmet Flood is under consideration for a White House job assisting Trump with the Russia probe.
Mueller is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election. Moscow denies any interference and Trump has said there was no collusion.