DiGenova role on President's legal team in flux

Veteran Washington attorney Joseph diGenova's role as part of President Donald Trump's legal team is still in questio...

Posted: Mar 23, 2018 8:37 PM
Updated: Mar 23, 2018 8:37 PM

Veteran Washington attorney Joseph diGenova's role as part of President Donald Trump's legal team is still in question, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

DiGenova's hiring was announced on Monday by Jay Sekulow, counsel to the President. DiGenova, along with his wife and law partner, Victoria Toensing, had a Thursday meeting with the President, the sources said. Even so, diGenova's role, as well as that of Toensing who is also in discussions about joining the team, are in flux. One source said no one has been officially hired.

The Thursday meeting was the first time the husband-and-wife legal team met with the President since the Monday announcement. One source said that while Trump liked their message, the President is not convinced they are right for the legal jobs.

On Monday, after word that diGenova was coming on board, Sekulow said in a statement, "Former US Attorney for the District of Columbia Joe DiGenova will be joining our legal team later this week. 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."

A source familiar with the plans said on Monday that diGenova's role was to engage with the media and actively defend the President.

But there is concern about conflicts for both diGenova and Toensing, according to two sources. The two run a small firm and there is a question if diGenova can reasonably claim a lack of conflict when his wife represents clients like Mark Corrallo, who has spoken to special counsel Robert Mueller's team about how the President and his team responded to the revelations regarding the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign officials had with a group of Russians.

Toensing also represents former Trump campaign national co-chair Sam Clovis, who has faced scrutiny for his connection to campaign foreign policy team member George Papadopoulos, two sources said. NBC News reported Clovis talked to the special counsel. Toensing has asked her clients to sign waivers regarding the conflicts, CNN is told by one person familiar with the matter, but that may not be sufficient to assuage the concerns.

DiGenova and Toensing declined to comment. The White House did not comment.

John Dowd, who resigned Thursday as the President's lead lawyer to handle the special counsel's investigation, raised the conflict issue to the legal team before he quit, the sources said.

There are discussions with other attorneys to take Dowd's role, sources said. Dowd had been negotiating with Mueller's office over a potential interview with the President.

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