Giuliani media blitz, legal team's reshuffle hint at new Trump strategy

The tornado that was Rudy Giuliani's media appearances this week -- plus personnel changes to President's Donald Trum...

Posted: May 6, 2018 6:08 PM
Updated: May 6, 2018 6:08 PM

The tornado that was Rudy Giuliani's media appearances this week -- plus personnel changes to President's Donald Trump's legal team -- may signal a drastic change in how Trump will approach his legal strategy as the Russia investigation and a probe into Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen swirl around the President.

Trump's legal team now consists of several accomplished attorneys with extremely disparate personalities. While Giuliani, who besides his political career is a former federal top prosecutor in Manhattan, captivated journalists with disclosures about Trump this week, three fresh lawyers who've shunned media attention are positioned to handle serious legal work to protect the President.

Many predict that Giuliani, as the face of the team, will seize opportunities to make news on TV and that he will be more aggressive toward special counsel Robert Mueller.

"Playing nice hasn't gotten them anywhere," a source familiar with the team said, going on to describe Giuliani as a "professional assassin."

Yet Giuliani's comments to Fox News about Trump's legal situations this week appeared to complicate the President's story. CNN reported Thursday that members of Trump's legal team -- which also includes a cluster of unofficial advisers, largely from Trump's New York social circle -- were caught by surprise when Giuliani spoke about Stormy Daniels, disclosing that Trump had reimbursed Michael Cohen for the adult film star's hush agreement.

The lack of clarity continued Friday, when Trump said Giuliani should "get his facts straight," and then the former New York mayor released a statement about what he said on Fox News, but didn't say who ultimately paid Daniels $130,000.

Other sources with knowledge of Giuliani's approach said his comments may have been planned to get ahead of the development if it were to leak. Aside from the drama of the Cohen investigation, which appears to be playing out in New York, Mueller's team and Trump's lawyers in Washington have been in talks about an interview between the special counsel and the President.

Giuliani appeared to be in negotiation mode and interested in stoking a media frenzy Wednesday and Thursday, telling news outlets that any investigative interview of Trump wouldn't be longer than two to three hours and would have a narrow set of questions.

"Forget Bob Mueller, no respectable lawyer comes in and dictates what you're going to do. You don't go in and make demands," said Jon Sale, a Miami-based white collar lawyer and friend of Giuliani's. "You put forth reasonable positions to be persuasive."

Wednesday morning, the legal team had appeared to turn back toward more discreet lawyering, with the announcement that Washington trial lawyer Emmet Flood would join the team inside the White House.

Trump's Batman

Flood and other newcomers on Trump's legal roster could provide a counterpoint to Giuliani's New York bluster.

In all, Trump's team that responds to the Russia probe comprises Flood -- representing the office of the presidency from inside the White House -- and now the four private attorneys, Giuliani, Jay Sekulow, and Jane and Martin Raskin. The White House has its own counsel staff who handle day-to-day executive branch issues, and then the President has several other private lawyers assisting him, including in the criminal probe of Michael Cohen in New York and for civil lawsuits.

Flood may be the more experienced lawyer in the peculiar task of aiding a president under the pressure of a special counsel. The trial lawyer and former impeachment adviser to then-President Bill Clinton is taking an air-traffic-control-type position in the White House that has been held since last summer by Ty Cobb, who's retiring at the end of this month.

White House counsel Donald McGahn and his attorney Bill Burck, who is friends with Flood, lobbied Flood last weekend to join the President's team, according to a person familiar with the interaction. To make his case, Burck paraphrased the movie "The Dark Knight," telling Flood that he's Batman, the hero that Gotham -- the country -- deserves, this person said.

Flood leaves his law firm Williams & Connolly, among Washington's most elite trial powerhouses and which still represent the Clintons, to take the job. As of Friday -- two days into Giuliani's coup -- it wasn't clear whether Flood had started working at the White House yet.

A Chicagoan who early in his career taught high school English, Flood is a "tightly wrapped " individual who "couldn't get any further away from Trump's personality," according to a source familiar with the situation. Flood and his former law firm have been notoriously silent in response to media inquiries for years, and he did not respond to requests for comment this week.

Flood also served in a role similar to the position he's in now during George W. Bush's administration. In that role, he directed the White House's response to investigations.

"My experience with him was he was clear-eyed, no nonsense, no sugarcoating, no bullshitting. Just giving you the straight reality of what you needed to do," said Scott Jennings, a former assistant to then-President George W. Bush whom Flood counseled during the congressional investigation into the firing of US attorneys.

While Jennings had a private defense lawyer help him prepare for Senate testimony -- Mark Paoletta, who's served as counsel to Vice President Mike Pence and general counsel of the Office of Management and Budget in the Trump years -- Flood sat with Jennings during his Senate testimony. Flood's job was to help Jennings and Paoletta decide when not to answer and assert executive privilege, the ability of a president to keep certain conversations and documents private.

"Having somebody like Emmet sitting behind you makes you feel a lot better about life," said Jennings, who's now a public relations executive and CNN contributor. "I think I'm the last sitting White House staffer to go to Capitol Hill and correctly invoke executive privilege on behalf of the president."

Assertions of privilege -- the ability to decline to answer and keep information secret -- could include the president claiming executive branch confidentiality, protecting attorney-client discussions and pleading the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. All could become an avenue for future negotiations and court fights -- especially if Mueller interviews Trump or subpoenas him to testify before a grand jury.

Not showboats

Among Trump's personal attorneys, Jay Sekulow, a conservative radio host and nonprofit legal organization head, soldiers on after surviving the turmoil of Marc Kasowitz stepping back, John Dowd exiting and the husband-and-wife duo of Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova never securing the job. Sekulow added Giuliani and now may step back, according to sources familiar with the team.

Martin and Jane Raskin of Coral Gables, Florida, signed on to Trump's personal legal team about two weeks ago.

The Raskins, brought aboard after several top Washington lawyers turned down working for Trump, couldn't be more different from Giuliani. "They're not grandstanders," Sale said. Another Florida white collar lawyer who knows both the Raskins and Giuliani described the couple similarly, as "not showboats."

"You're not going to hear speeches about the government being crazy from them," the lawyer said.

Still, Giuliani will likely work closely with the Raskins, who are well-respected especially among Florida lawyers for their criminal defense work.

"Behind the scenes, anybody as smart as Rudy knows you need to brainstorm with other people on your team and make it a collaborative effort," Sale said.

The Raskins have specialized in criminal defense, primarily in Florida federal court, for years. They've cut plea deals for clients, defended people caught in conspiracy and fraud investigations, and run their own firm out of Coral Gables, almost two hours south of Mar-a-Lago, where they met with Trump last month, according to The Washington Post. Jane Raskin worked decades ago with Mueller and with James Quarles, a prosecutor negotiating the interview with Trump.

"One thing about the Raskins is they're very easy to work with," said the lawyer who's friendly with them, declining to give his name or law firm.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 540277

Reported Deaths: 7022
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1125861667
Ramsey46611846
Dakota41151414
Anoka37226413
Washington24233273
Stearns20532215
St. Louis16380295
Scott15455116
Wright14317124
Olmsted1256996
Sherburne1020879
Carver946043
Clay765189
Rice7408100
Blue Earth676840
Kandiyohi618879
Crow Wing591786
Chisago535648
Otter Tail531673
Benton518396
Mower446032
Winona434549
Douglas432170
Goodhue429871
Nobles396147
Morrison382859
McLeod381154
Beltrami365057
Isanti360159
Polk358966
Itasca356851
Steele346614
Becker344848
Lyon341848
Carlton322152
Freeborn319429
Pine305321
Nicollet298542
Brown289139
Mille Lacs269547
Le Sueur265022
Todd264830
Cass241426
Meeker227037
Waseca225820
Martin209029
Wabasha19793
Roseau194018
Dodge16794
Hubbard167641
Renville167443
Redwood163335
Houston161814
Cottonwood151420
Fillmore15039
Pennington148419
Chippewa143636
Faribault141619
Wadena139820
Sibley132110
Aitkin126736
Kanabec124921
Watonwan12429
Rock120918
Jackson113010
Yellow Medicine108218
Pipestone107225
Murray10149
Pope9906
Swift97118
Marshall83717
Stevens79010
Lake77819
Wilkin75412
Clearwater75314
Koochiching74312
Lac qui Parle73022
Big Stone5544
Lincoln5532
Grant5388
Norman5119
Mahnomen4898
Unassigned48578
Kittson44322
Red Lake3796
Traverse3585
Lake of the Woods2932
Cook1440

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 354875

Reported Deaths: 5797
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk55489598
Linn20153329
Scott18692234
Black Hawk15460306
Woodbury14773219
Johnson1384380
Dubuque13023202
Dallas1082196
Pottawattamie10612160
Story1024447
Warren548286
Clinton530789
Cerro Gordo518586
Webster506091
Sioux502673
Marshall476274
Muscatine454796
Des Moines439065
Wapello4245120
Buena Vista420940
Jasper406270
Plymouth393779
Lee366655
Marion353975
Jones292055
Henry285337
Bremer278260
Carroll277650
Crawford261539
Boone256131
Benton248955
Washington247849
Dickinson238643
Mahaska223049
Jackson216842
Kossuth211461
Clay208325
Tama206371
Delaware200939
Winneshiek192533
Page189020
Buchanan187331
Cedar182623
Fayette182641
Wright178635
Hardin178542
Hamilton176949
Harrison174673
Clayton165355
Butler161834
Mills157420
Cherokee156438
Floyd154342
Lyon153541
Poweshiek152133
Madison151919
Allamakee149051
Iowa144624
Hancock142634
Winnebago135331
Grundy134832
Cass133954
Calhoun133011
Jefferson130535
Emmet127140
Shelby126537
Louisa126049
Appanoose125847
Sac125819
Mitchell125241
Union123732
Chickasaw122015
Humboldt117926
Guthrie116728
Franklin112321
Palo Alto109622
Howard102622
Unassigned10030
Montgomery99737
Clarke98023
Keokuk94330
Monroe93128
Ida88533
Adair84032
Pocahontas83021
Monona80430
Davis79824
Greene76310
Lucas74822
Osceola73716
Worth6978
Taylor64812
Fremont60410
Decatur5889
Van Buren55318
Ringgold53322
Wayne51823
Audubon4939
Adams3264
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 36°
Mason City
Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 38°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 39°
Austin
Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 40°
Charles City
Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 39°
Drier conditions for the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events