Here are the lawyers who quit or declined to represent Trump in the Mueller probe

Key Points
  • The legal team representing President Trump in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has seen numerous departures since its formation last summer.
  • Several lawyers have reportedly been asked to join the team, but no new hires have been announced.
  • Some of the potential hires cited conflicts of interest.
Here are the lawyers who quit or declined to represent Trump in the Mueller probe
Here are the lawyers who quit or declined to represent Trump in the Mueller probe

As special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation inches closer to Donald Trump, the president has been increasingly hard-pressed to fill out his legal team.

By the end of March, just two key players remained: Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow.

Cobb, who was appointed in July, represents the White House and handles the special counsel's probe into matters related to links between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russia. Sekulow, who often acts as a public face for the team, has been working for Trump from outside the White House since June.

In further signs of trouble, several high-powered attorneys, including Theodore Olsen and Robert Bennett, have turned down offers to represent the president.

Trump lashed out over the apparent lack of interest from lawyers in a pair of tweets on Sunday. The staffing troubles, he said, merely stem from the difficulty of joining a complex case in progress. But he noted that conflicts of interest are also playing a role in his hiring woes.

Trump tweet: Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case...don't believe the Fake News narrative that it is hard to find a lawyer who wants to take this on. Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted. Problem is that a new......

Trump tweet: ....lawyer or law firm will take months to get up to speed (if for no other reason than they can bill more), which is unfair to our great country - and I am very happy with my existing team. Besides, there was NO COLLUSION with Russia, except by Crooked Hillary and the Dems!

To be sure, the two holdouts on the president's team are still supported by teams of legal experts. Sekulow, for instance, commands a handful of lawyers through his nonprofit, the American Center for Law and Justice.

Defending a client — even a U.S. president — against a special counsel with significant resources and legal powers can be a daunting task. And as the reported possibility of a face-to-face interview looms, a spot on Trump's team might look less propitious to potential hires.

Here's a running list of the people who have left, or declined to join, Trump's legal team:

Mark Corallo

Former Trump legal spokesman Mark Corallo (left) and President Donald Trump's personal attorney Marc Kasowitz arrive to the National Press Club in Washington to read a statement to members of the media, Thursday, June 8, 2017.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais | AP

Corallo was an early spokesman for Trump's legal team. He left in July 2017 after just two months in the role, a decision that was influenced at least in part by his frustrations with the conduct in the White House, Politico reported at the time.

Multiple outlets have since confirmed that Corallo was interviewed by the special counsel early in 2018.

Marc Kasowitz

Marc Kasowitz
Getty Images

Kasowitz, a personal attorney for Trump, was hired in May to lead the president's legal team against the Mueller probe.

He left the team in July, although he reportedly maintained contact with Trump after his departure from the team.

Kasowitz is currently defending Trump in a defamation lawsuit by a contestant on the president's former television show, "The Apprentice," who says he groped her.

Michael J. Bowe, a partner at Kasowitz's law firm, joined Trump's team alongside Kasowitz. It was unclear whether Bowe had resigned or remained on the team. Neither Bowe nor Kasowitz responded to CNBC's requests for clarification.

John Dowd

John Dowd
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Dowd was Trump's lead lawyer in the Russia probe when he announced his resignation in March.

The resignation came less than two weeks after Trump tweeted his assurances that he was "VERY happy" with his lawyers, and that he would not be adding to his team.

Trump tweet The Failing New York Times purposely wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case and am going to add another lawyer to help out. Wrong. I am VERY happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow. They are doing a great job and.....

Dowd had reportedly opposed the president engaging in a face-to-face interview with the special counsel — something Trump has recently said he "would like to" do.

Bloomberg reported last week that Dowd's resignation was related to friction over the possibility of hiring Joseph diGenova. But Dowd previously told CNBC he was "delighted Joe is joining" the team, and he later denied that his departure was related to problems with diGenova when asked by CNBC.

"I love the president and wish him well," Dowd told NBC News after announcing his departure.

Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing

Joseph DiGenova

The husband-and-wife legal duo of diGenova and Toensing were tapped in March to join Trump's legal team in the Russia probe.

DiGenova, a regular Fox News guest, had spouted conspiracy theories about the Mueller probe's motives against Trump.

The White House cited conflicts of interest, however, as the reason the two lawyers could not join the legal team as planned.

Toensing represents Corallo, the former legal team spokesman who has been interviewed by the special counsel.

"The president is disappointed that conflicts prevent Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing from joining the president's special counsel legal team," Sekulow said in a statement.

Theodore Olson

Ted Olson, a famed Supreme Court litigator and former Bush solicitor general.
Jahi Chikwendiu | The Washington Post | Getty Images

A high-powered lawyer and former solicitor general, Olson was contacted by the White House in March, reportedly about joining the legal team.

Like diGenova and Toensing, Olson had conflicts of interest that precluded him from joining.

Among those conflicts was the fact that Olson's law firm, Gibson Dunn, represents intelligence-gathering firm Fusion GPS, whose ex-spy authored a dossier alleging salacious connections between Trump and the Kremlin.

But in a Monday interview with MSNBC, Olson criticized the conduct in Trump's White House.

"This is turmoil, it's chaos, it's confusion and it's not good for anything," Olson said in the interview.

Tom Buchanan and Dan Webb

Dan Webb
Getty Images

Trump reached out to Buchanan and Webb in search of legal representation, the white-collar lawyers' firm said in a statement.

Both lawyers declined the offer to represent the president "due to business conflicts," according to the firm, Winston & Strawn.

"They wish the president the best and believe he has excellent representation in Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow," the firm said.

Bob Giuffra

Robert Giuffra
Getty Images

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Giuffra, a lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell, had declined to join Trump's legal defense team several weeks earlier.

Giuffra was not available for comment.

Robert Bennett

Robert S. Bennett, President Bill Clinton's personal attorney in 1999.
William Philpott | AFP | Getty Images

Bennett, who represented President Bill Clinton against an accusation of sexual harassment by Paula Jones, also declined to join the team, according to CNN.

Bennett did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Emmet Flood

White House Special Counsel Emmet Flood, left, in 2007.
Getty Images

Flood recently met with Trump in the Oval Office to discuss the possibility of joining the team, The New York Times reported in March.

Flood has worked for U.S. presidents before, notably as Bill Clinton's representative during impeachment proceedings. He also worked in the White House Counsel's office under President George W. Bush.

Flood was not available for comment.