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Meet Trump's new lawyer in the Russia probe

After former White House lawyer Ty Cobb left his position, President Trump hired former President Clinton's impeachment lawyer Emmet Flood to join the White House legal team.

Posted: May 4, 2018 11:28 AM
Updated: May 4, 2018 11:39 AM

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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 560450

Reported Deaths: 7122
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1167211690
Ramsey48313858
Dakota42928423
Anoka38965419
Washington25195274
Stearns21198219
St. Louis16926298
Scott16187118
Wright14964128
Olmsted1282897
Sherburne1072580
Carver993045
Clay787390
Rice7701102
Blue Earth704240
Kandiyohi631381
Crow Wing624286
Chisago554750
Otter Tail547673
Benton536697
Mower453032
Goodhue448572
Douglas446071
Winona439549
Nobles401948
Morrison397559
McLeod397255
Isanti382559
Itasca379053
Beltrami375457
Polk367967
Steele366214
Becker359448
Lyon349748
Carlton331152
Freeborn329629
Pine313821
Nicollet310343
Brown295639
Mille Lacs285450
Le Sueur273822
Todd270030
Cass252526
Meeker239137
Waseca231921
Martin215230
Wabasha20003
Roseau198319
Hubbard174441
Renville172943
Dodge17253
Redwood166735
Houston162714
Cottonwood158221
Fillmore15229
Pennington151519
Chippewa147537
Wadena145821
Faribault145519
Sibley137110
Kanabec133622
Aitkin129436
Watonwan12609
Rock123419
Jackson118210
Yellow Medicine111319
Pipestone110526
Pope10386
Murray10319
Swift100418
Marshall85817
Stevens83310
Lake78819
Clearwater78514
Koochiching77813
Wilkin77312
Lac qui Parle73922
Big Stone5764
Lincoln5613
Grant5528
Norman5229
Mahnomen5178
Unassigned48678
Kittson46822
Red Lake3877
Traverse3625
Lake of the Woods3073
Cook1480

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 359450

Reported Deaths: 5839
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk56274608
Linn20392330
Scott19245236
Black Hawk15611306
Woodbury14960221
Johnson1415481
Dubuque13196203
Dallas1094596
Pottawattamie10804162
Story1035747
Warren559186
Clinton541791
Cerro Gordo524987
Webster508792
Sioux507873
Marshall477575
Muscatine463297
Des Moines443165
Wapello4255121
Buena Vista422140
Jasper408470
Plymouth398779
Lee369255
Marion355775
Jones293455
Henry286837
Carroll280152
Bremer279860
Crawford262840
Boone259633
Benton251155
Washington249850
Dickinson243743
Mahaska225750
Jackson218942
Kossuth213763
Clay212325
Tama206971
Delaware204539
Winneshiek194933
Page190721
Buchanan189031
Cedar185023
Fayette183541
Hardin181942
Wright180635
Hamilton178449
Harrison176673
Clayton167355
Butler162734
Mills159020
Cherokee157738
Floyd156242
Lyon155341
Madison154819
Poweshiek153233
Allamakee149351
Iowa146224
Hancock144234
Winnebago136931
Grundy135532
Cass135154
Calhoun133411
Jefferson131235
Emmet129940
Shelby129037
Sac128419
Louisa127349
Appanoose126747
Mitchell125441
Union123332
Chickasaw122715
Guthrie118529
Humboldt118426
Franklin113121
Palo Alto111323
Howard102922
Montgomery101537
Unassigned10040
Clarke98524
Keokuk95031
Monroe94528
Ida90133
Adair84832
Pocahontas84121
Monona81430
Davis79924
Osceola77116
Greene76710
Lucas75723
Worth7138
Taylor65412
Fremont6169
Decatur5919
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53624
Wayne52123
Audubon4969
Adams3314
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