John Dowd Resigns as Trump's Lead Lawyer in Russia Probe - NBC 7 San Diego
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John Dowd Resigns as Trump's Lead Lawyer in Russia Probe

John Dowd's resignation comes after he said Saturday that he hopes the deputy attorney general will bring an end to the special counsel's Russia investigation

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    Trump's Head Lawyer in Russia Probe Resigns

    John Dowd, the head lawyer for President Donald Trump in the special counsel's investigation, has resigned. (Published Thursday, March 22, 2018)

    President Donald Trump's lead lawyer in the special counsel's Russia investigation has resigned amid a shake-up of the president's team, an exit that removes the primary negotiator and legal strategist who had been molding Trump's defense.

    The departure of attorney John Dowd comes as the president has personally intensified his attacks on the special counsel and just days after the Trump legal team added a new lawyer, former U.S. attorney Joseph diGenova, who has alleged on television that FBI officials were involved in a "brazen plot" to exonerate Hillary Clinton in the email investigation and to "frame" Trump for nonexistent crimes.

    Dowd confirmed his decision Thursday to NBC News, saying, "I love the President and wish him well."

    He told the AP that he made the decision voluntarily and denied that his departure, first reported by the New York Times, had to do with Trump ignoring his legal advice.

    Trump: 'I'd Like To' Testify To Robert Mueller

    [NATL] Trump: 'I'd Like To' Testify To Robert Mueller

    President Donald Trump said he would still like to testify to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

    (Published Thursday, March 22, 2018)

    It already was a delicate time in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation as Trump's attorneys, including Dowd, have been negotiating with Mueller over the scope and terms of an interview of the president. Trump has told reporters that he was eager to speak with Mueller, but Dowd has been far more apprehensive, and the lawyers have not publicly committed to making Trump available for questioning.

    Asked Thursday whether he still wants to speak with Mueller's team, Trump told reporters, "Yes, I would like to."

    Dowd's exit nearly a year into Mueller's investigation threatens to undo the cooperation between prosecutors and Trump's lawyers and may herald a stark shift in strategy as the probe reaches closer into the White House and the president's inner circle.

    Over the weekend, Dowd issued a statement calling for an end to special counsel's investigation. He said Saturday that he hoped it would conclude "on the merits in light of recent revelations," referring to the firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe the day before.

    "I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier," John Dowd told NBC News.

    The White House and later Dowd had to clarify the statement, saying the president's legal team wasn't calling for Mueller to be fired.

    White House Wants Everyone to 'Get the Russia Fever Out of Their System'

    [NATL] White House Wants Everyone to 'Get the Russia Fever Out of Their System'

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that President Trump was not involved in the decision of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe stepping down from his position, and also hoped that everyone would "get the Russia fever out of their system" soon.

    (Published Monday, Jan. 29, 2018)

    But Trump has upped his public attacks on Mueller.

    In a series of tweets since last week, the president has said that the probe never should have started, that it was based on "fraudulent activities," that it was a "WITCH HUNT" and that it is being led by "13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters."

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said earlier this week the tweets were a reflection of Trump's frustration with the process of the investigation. She said the White House did not think firing Mueller would be "the most productive step forward."

    Another of Trump lawyers, Jay Sekulow, confirmed Dowd's resignation and praised his former colleague.

    "John Dowd is 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.

    This is at least the second major reshuffling of Trump's legal team in the last year. Dowd had taken over the lead lawyer role last summer from New York attorney Marc Kasowitz, who has long been by Trump's side.

    Trump Takes Aim at McCabe and Muller on Twitter

    [NATL] Trump Takes Aim at McCabe and Muller on Twitter

    Over the weekend, President Donald Trump tweeted his displeasure with special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation.

    (Published Monday, March 19, 2018)

    Steve Bannon, once a top advisor to Trump, offered his own analysis of the shakeup, saying the president is focused on bringing "aggressive attorneys" to his team in regards to the Russia investigation.

    "I think it's very obvious that he is going to go to war on this," Bannon said Thursday at the Financial Times Future of News Conference.

    On Dowd's resignation, Bannon claimed "he got fired."

    Dowd is a veteran defense lawyer perhaps best known for producing a report for Major League Baseball on star player Pete Rose's gambling habits. He's also played a role in some of the defining legal quagmires of the last four decades — among them, the Iran-Contra affair, the Keating Five, the Enron collapse and a scandal over the firing of U.S. attorneys.

    As the investigation progressed, Dowd has touted the cooperation of the White House and Trump campaign with Mueller's investigation, calling it "the most transparent response in history."

    His work on behalf of Trump has previously raised eyebrows.

    FBI Deputy Director Fired Two Days Before Retirement

    [NATL] FBI Deputy Director Fired Two Days Before Retirement

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was a regular target of President Donald Trump's anger and criticism.

    (Published Saturday, March 17, 2018)

    In December, he took ownership of a controversial tweet from Trump that said former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn was dismissed months earlier for having lied to the FBI. The tweet appeared to confirm for the first time that the White House knew at the time of Flynn's firing that he had misled the FBI. That was important because fired FBI director James Comey has alleged that Trump, in a private Oval Office conversation, had encouraged him to end an investigation into Flynn.

    Amid media scrutiny of the tweet, Dowd claimed to have written it himself.