Recent reporting by the New York Times is shedding light on where President Donald Trump presently stands regarding special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
After reporting last week that Mueller had subpoenaed Trump Organization documents -- including those relating to Russia -- as well as Trump attorney John Dowd's assertion that the Russia investigation should be dropped, the Times now reports that the president has brought on Washington lawyer Joseph E. diGenova and openly discussed firing Mueller among White House staff.
Publicly, the White House maintains that Trump is not considering firing Mueller, but Dowd's call for ending the Russia probe reportedly was a result of the president's urging.
Mr. Trump’s legal team has been in tumult in recent weeks. On Saturday, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, called on the Justice Department to end the special counsel investigation. Mr. Dowd said at the time that he was speaking for the president but later backtracked. According to two people briefed on the matter, he was in fact acting at the president’s urging to call for an end to the inquiry. [emphasis added]
Bringing diGenova on board also signals that Trump is mulling the idea of firing special counsel.
Mr. diGenova, a former United States attorney, is not expected to take a lead role. But he will serve as an outspoken player for the president as Mr. Trump has increased his attacks on the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Trump broke over the weekend from the longstanding advice of some of his lawyers that he refrain from directly criticizing Mr. Mueller, a sign of his growing unease with the investigation.
DiGenova supports the idea that there was a 'deep state' effort to initially keep Trump from winning the election and subsequently frame and remove the president, though there is little credible evidence for such a theory at this time.
“There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime,” he said on Fox News in January. He added, “Make no mistake about it: A group of F.B.I. and D.O.J. people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.”