Trump loses another lawyer — Ty Cobb leaving, replaced by Clinton impeachment attorney Emmet Flood

  • Ty Cobb is leaving as the lead lawyer representing President Trump in the ongoing probe by special counsel Robert Mueller, the White House says.
  • Trump has hired Emmet Flood as Cobb's successor.
  • Flood represented President Bill Clinton during his impeachment.

Trump lawyer Ty Cobbis leaving the president's team dealing with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and will be replaced by Emmet Flood, who represented President Bill Clinton during his impeachment.

Cobb's departure and Flood's arrival is just the latest shuffling of President Donald Trump's legal team to deal with Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. And it reportedly is due to a desire to be more aggressive in responding to that probe.

"For several weeks Ty Cobb has been discussing his retirement and last week he let Chief of Staff [John] Kelly know he would retire at the end of this month," White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

"Emmet Flood will be joining the White House Staff to represent the President and the administration against the Russia witch hunt," Sanders said.

"Ty Cobb, a friend of the President, who has done a terrific job, will be retiring at the end of the month."

The moves were first reported by The New York Times.

Flood, a Washington lawyer, was said to be in discussions with Trump two months ago about joining his legal team for Mueller's probe.

The Times reported that Flood is expected "to take a more adversarial approach" to Mueller's investigation that Cobb, 68, who has advocated for cooperation with Mueller's probe. When he was hired last summer, Cobb said that the White House was "in full cooperation mode."

But the White House now may be less cooperative.

Emmet Flood
Source: Williams & Connolly LLP
Emmet Flood

Mueller's inquiry, which is eyeing possible collusion by Trump campaign officials with Russians, has been a constant source of irritation to Trump, and become more of one in recent days.

The president has angrily denied that any collusion occurred and has lashed out at his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department and the FBI because of the probe.

Another lawyer, John Dowd, quit his legal team in late March, after opposing Trump's desire, at that time, to be interviewed by Mueller's legal team.

Last month, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, joined the team, and said he was doing so because he hoped to "negotiate and end to this" Mueller probe for the good of the country.

On Wednesday, Giuliani told that Washington Post that Trump last week told his legal team, which includes Jay Sekulow, that Flood was coming in for an interview, and that Sekulow "felt he [needed] someone that more aggressive."

Giuliani also told the Post that Trump, if he does consent to an interview with Mueller, would not do one that lasted for up to 12 hours, as some people have suggested.

"It'd be, max, two to three hours around a narrow set of questions," Giuliani said.

However, there is little sign, if any, that Mueller would agree to such restrictions.

The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that Mueller, during a March meeting with Trump's lawyers, mentioned possibly issuing a grand jury subpoena for the president if he did not consent to a voluntary interview. That story broke after the Times reported a list of nearly four dozen questions that Mueller wants to ask Trump.

President Donald Trump
Getty Images
President Donald Trump

Flood and Cobb had no immediate comment when contacted by CNBC.

Flood is a partner at the law firm of Williams & Connolly. He was part of a team that represented Clinton during the 1999 impeachment, which ended with Clinton's acquittal in the Senate.

Flood's bio page at his law firm also notes that he was the lead lawyer in the White House Counsel's office under President George W. Bush for responding to hundreds of congressional investigations. Flood also represented Bush's vice president, Dick Cheney, in a civil lawsuit filed by Valerie Plame, a CIA employee whose status at the agency had been leaked.

When the Times first reported in March that Trump was talking to Flood about becoming one of his attorneys, Trump angrily denied such a move.

The Times on Wednesday reported that Flood's discussions with Trump came to naught two months ago because the attorney did not want to deal with Marc Kasowitz, a lawyer for Trump who was then involved in responding to the Mueller probe.

Additional reporting by CNBC's Eamon Javers