The big screenwriter in the sky has broken the mold and thrown out the book when it comes to the life and times of Donald J. Trump. In today’s episode, Ty Cobb followed John Dowd out the revolving door to become the newest member of Trump’s legal team to defect, and he took the last remaining security clearance with him. Now Trump’s team has to figure out how to defend a case containing issues which they are precluded from being briefed upon, not having the requisite clearances in place, yet another Trump administration first. Bloomberg:
Donald Trump’s current team of lawyers lacks the security clearances needed to discuss sensitive issues related to a possible presidential interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Trump’s former lead lawyer John Dowd had been the only member of the president’s personal legal team with a security clearance, the people said. When Dowd quit in March over disagreements with Trump on legal strategy, Jay Sekulow became the lead lawyer on the investigation and is still waiting for his clearance.
Having the clearance is one thing, waiting is quite another, just ask Jared Kushner. And meanwhile, Team Mueller can outrun and outgun Team Trump standing still.
From the start, Trump’s legal team has been out-manned by Mueller’s. While Mueller had a team of more than a dozen seasoned prosecutors at the prime of their careers, Trump’s team was led by Dowd, who had decades of experience with large-scale investigations but was in solo practice and nearing retirement. Sekulow brought a background in constitutional law but had no experience with a major criminal probe. Neither had the resources of a major law firm to draw on.
Sekulow struggled to find another lawyer with experience in white-collar investigations to help after several high-profile lawyers turned down the work because of conflicts of interest or concerns about the negative publicity that could come from being involved.
About a month after Dowd’s departure, Sekulow said Giuliani would be joining the legal team, along with Florida-based white-collar defense lawyers Martin and Jane Raskin. Giuliani and the Raskins didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether they have also sought security clearance.
It’s hard to keep a score card and keep all the players straight in the West Wing simply because no one has ever dealt with these particular issues in government before. Prior to John Kelly doing housecleaning and reducing the role of various individuals, Jarvanka among them, who were privy to the daily presidential briefing without benefit of a security clearance, it was unheard of for people in any given administration to be operating bereft of credentials, let alone hundreds of them doing so at the same time.
Now the Mueller investigation is heating up and unless Jay Sekulow can pull a rabbit out of the hat and get his clearance, there may be nobody who is qualified to defend Trump even minimally. Technically, Trump has Guiliani and Cohen on his team, but they don’t have a security clearance either nor are any likely to be forthcoming. DiGenova probably would have gotten one, but the real life diGenova was lacking “personal chemistry,” and so was canned before he ever began. And it’s long been rumored that Marc Kasowitz is coming back, but that hasn’t materialized either.
The next lawyer out the door may well be Donald McGahn, according to the New York Times. Emmet Flood may be being groomed as McGahn’s replacement. “Mr. Flood is seen as a possible eventual replacement for Mr. McGahn, who has clashed privately with Mr. Trump and whose departure has long been rumored.” Everything Trump touches dies and in the case of his legal team, if he doesn’t reverse this process soon, the next one receiving the benefits of Trump’s reverse-Midas touch will be himself.