WH legal team shakeup: Ty Cobb out, Emmet Flood in

President Trump shakes up his legal team, replacing Ty Cobb with Clinton impeachment lawyer Emmet Flood.

Posted: May 3, 2018 2:22 PM
Updated: May 3, 2018 2:22 PM

With one of former President Bill Clinton's impeachment-era lawyers headed back to the White House, this time to help President Donald Trump cope with Robert Mueller's investigation, it's worth asking: What can Trump learn from the Clinton White House's misadventures?

The departure of Trump lawyer Ty Cobb, followed by news of the hiring of Emmet Flood, could signal a new and less friendly tack from Trump's ever-evolving legal team, which has mostly played nice with the special counsel. The President, meanwhile, routinely dismisses the inquiry as a "WITCH HUNT."

Clinton, of course, didn't have access to a smartphone with a Twitter app, so this -- for about a thousand reasons -- is hardly an apples to apples comparison. But his and Trump's fates could be merging on at least one front, as Mueller appears closer to pushing, perhaps via subpoena, for Trump to testify under oath.

So with Clinton's case in mind, what's this president to do?

1. Get his story straight — because the questions are a-comin'

As CNN legal analyst and Supreme Court guru Joan Biskupic wrote on Wednesday, past precedent suggests that, one way or another, Trump will be subject to questioning (even if, for now at least, the prospect is very much open for debate).

A look at the outline of Mueller's potential queries, as reported by The New York Times on Monday, suggests Trump's current tactics -- yelling on Twitter being at the top of the list -- won't be of much use when and if he's confronted with some very direct, specific asks.

Clinton, when under oath with special counsel Ken Starr, tried to slip similarly narrow questions with a round of now-infamous riffs of legalese. See: his memorable disquisition on the definition of "is."

2. Don't (try to) be too clever

Simple one, here.

Though no stranger to legal proceedings, Trump doesn't possess Clinton's legal expertise (for all the good it did him). He isn't going to talk his way out of this. He could, should he try, talk himself into something way worse -- much like Clinton did. Clinton's tortured denials are now among the most-remembered lines of his presidency.

Trump has already taken one cue from Clinton and denied denied denied there was any collusion between his campaign and Russia. If there is, in fact, "NO COLLUSION" or otherwise untoward or illegal behavior to conceal, and only potentially embarrassing political details, the applicable lesson from the Clinton saga is: Either be truthful -- or quiet.

3. Not on camera...

There is next-to-no shot that Trump is going to come out looking good, by anyone's standards, after a few hours under the gun with Mueller.

Again, Clinton learned that lesson firsthand. The transcripts of his grand jury testimony would have been bad enough, but the tape of it was the real shocker. Clinton looked anything but slick. He looked tired and defeated and sounded, well, like he was lying.

There's a very good and probably correct argument to be made that, in the current climate, the public reaction wouldn't compare to what it was two decades ago, no matter what Trump says. That is, of course, barring some revelation about a particular 2013 visit to Moscow. And while people might be (too) used to Trump's lying, there's a difference -- in how it might be perceived -- between his triumphantly volunteering blatant untruths and offering them defensively, after being cornered by a skilled prosecutor.

4. Make peace with the 2016 election results

This would be a good time for Trump to internalize that, no, he didn't win the popular vote and, for his own sake, that it's fine: Everyone knew the rules going in.

Why, a sane person might ask, would this matter?

The answer, sane person, is that so much of Trump's anger -- and rationalizing and, ultimately, false claims that millions of undocumented immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton -- has been rooted in his frustration at the suggestion that someone, or some other country's intelligence apparatus, should be credited for delivering his election win. Being honest won't cost Trump anything here. His base thinks he's the ultimate political iconoclast and that this whole exercise is bogus. His opponents think he's a fraud, or worse, and aren't going to be disabused of that idea by what would likely be a transparently misleading answer.

Telling Mueller the truth about his campaign's contacts with Russia won't change any of it. Lying as an ego booster won't either -- except that it could further endanger the presidency he fought so hard to claim.

5. Don't blink

Clinton ended his second term with his popularity soaring. Is it likely Trump will follow the same trajectory? No. Do we know anything, really, for sure? Definitely not.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 37624

Reported Deaths: 1503
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Ramsey4805226
Stearns234519
Dakota228690
Anoka2180107
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Olmsted110115
Washington106940
Mower9452
Rice8357
Scott7004
Clay58538
Kandiyohi5701
Wright4565
Blue Earth4532
Todd4002
Carver3641
Lyon3092
Sherburne3075
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Steele2281
Watonwan2160
Benton2143
St. Louis17715
Martin1635
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Goodhue1298
Winona12215
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
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Jackson550
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Brown302
Rock300
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Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood180
Cass152
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Big Stone140
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Roseau130
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30975

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6464179
Woodbury321544
Black Hawk225258
Buena Vista171111
Johnson12648
Dallas126329
Linn126282
Marshall104319
Scott77810
Story7623
Pottawattamie72111
Wapello70630
Dubuque68322
Crawford6772
Muscatine62944
Sioux4630
Tama46229
Wright3801
Louisa36013
Jasper32317
Plymouth3165
Warren2731
Dickinson2642
Washington2369
Webster2132
Hamilton1871
Cerro Gordo1561
Boone1481
Clay1330
Clarke1312
Allamakee1284
Mahaska11517
Shelby1140
Clinton1071
Poweshiek1048
Carroll961
Pocahontas941
Bremer926
Franklin890
Des Moines882
Henry863
Emmet850
Cedar821
Taylor790
Monona760
Cherokee751
Floyd722
Hardin700
Marion700
Guthrie664
Benton651
Sac630
Jefferson590
Osceola590
Jones560
Humboldt541
Butler532
Harrison530
Lee532
Hancock510
Iowa510
Buchanan501
Monroe506
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Madison452
Clayton433
Lyon410
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Davis391
Winneshiek380
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Mills360
Howard350
Kossuth340
Lucas304
Greene290
Jackson290
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Union270
Ida230
Cass220
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
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