Trump to hire lawyer who pushed theory that Justice Department framed the president
MANCHESTER, N.H. — President Trump hired longtime Washington lawyer Joseph E. diGenova on Monday, adding an aggressive voice to his legal team who has pushed the theory on television that the FBI and Justice Department framed Trump.
DiGenova, a former US attorney, is not expected to take a lead role. But he will serve as an outspoken player for the president as Trump has increased his attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump broke Sunday from the long-standing advice of some of his lawyers that he refrain from directly criticizing Mueller, a sign of his growing unease with the investigation.
“Former US attorney for the District of Columbia Joe DiGenova will be joining our legal team later this week,” said Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s personal lawyers. “I have worked with Joe for many years and have full confidence that he will be a great asset in our representation of the president.”
DiGenova has endorsed the notion that a secretive group of FBI agents concocted the Russia investigation as a way to keep Trump from becoming president.
“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 FBI and DOJ people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.”
Little evidence has emerged to support that theory.
Trump’s legal team has been in tumult in recent weeks. On Saturday, Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, called on the Justice Department to end the special counsel investigation.
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.
Earlier this month, Trump did not tell his lawyers that he was in discussions with another Washington lawyer, Emmet T. Flood, about representing him. Flood represented former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings.
DiGenova did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
On Sunday, White House lawyer Ty Cobb said the president is not planning to fire Mueller. He made the statement after a series of Trump tweets revived speculation that the president was considering asking the Justice Department to fire the special prosecutor.
Over the weekend, Trump lashed out at Mueller on Twitter, using his name for the first time. Some congressional Republicans fear that was a signal Trump might have reached the limits of his patience with the investigation. On Monday Trump again called the inquiry ‘‘a total witch hunt with massive conflicts of interest.’’
Probably contributing to Trump’s frustration, The New York Times reported last week that Mueller had subpoenaed the Trump Organization for Russia-related documents. Trump had said Mueller would cross a red line with such a step.
DiGenova is law partners with his wife, Victoria Toensing. Toensing has represented Sam Clovis, the former Trump campaign cochairman, and Erik Prince, founder of the security contractor Blackwater and an informal adviser to Trump.
Prince attended a meeting in 2017 with a Russian investor in the Seychelles that the special counsel is investigating.
Toensing also represents Mark Corallo, former spokesman for the Trump legal team who has accused one of the president’s advisers of potentially planning to obstruct justice with a statement related to a 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who offered damaging information on Hillary Clinton.