The runaway president: Trump is the lawyer-in-chief

The byzantine world of President Donald Trump's legal soap opera is now a daily spectacle that even the National Enqu...

Posted: Apr 18, 2018 12:41 PM
Updated: Apr 18, 2018 12:41 PM

The byzantine world of President Donald Trump's legal soap opera is now a daily spectacle that even the National Enquirer might try to catch and kill - if only it could.

Apparently everyone is in on the action except Judge Judy: a fired FBI director who calls the President unfit to serve, a New York courtroom drama that features Trump's favorite consigliere Michael Cohen, stories of payments to playmates and porn stars on behalf of the boss, a race-car driving, media-savvy attorney out to run over Cohen, and mystery clients, including Fox star Sean Hannity.

Oh, and there's also a special counsel investigating the President on Russian collusion and potential obstruction of justice.

It's a complex set of litigation that naturally requires a diverse, high-powered and specialized team of attorneys. Just like the ones employed by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Only Team Trump, like campaign Trump, is run by a singular leader: the President himself. And as the adage goes, a lawyer who represents himself has fool for a client (and the President isn't even a lawyer).

But Trump doesn't believe that. One source familiar with the situation says that Trump believes that "all of this will eventually collapse on itself," since he is innocent personally of any wrongdoing on Russia, as we have all heard. So he's running his own case.

In fact, he's the runaway president. Multiple sources who have spoken with Trump - or tried to advise him - say that there is no advice anyone can give that he will take to heart at this point.

Not one person among lawyers or friends has the mandate to do it. Early on in this saga, Trump's attorneys John Dowd (who quit), White House special counsel Ty Cobb (still there) and Jay Sekulow (now in charge) urged restraint by arguing that the case would be over soon enough and he'd be in the clear. Maybe by Thanksgiving. Or Christmas. Or early in the New Year.


So now it's not over - and with Stormy-like clouds brewing - it's worse. The President feels misled and, says one source, he's not interested in having anyone else in charge anymore. And Trump is fixated on the information the feds seized from Cohen in a raid last week, according to another source close to the President who described Trump to CNN senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown as "apoplectic" over the ordeal.

To make matters worse, there is no Trump whisperer to calm him down. There is just runaway Trump.

His attorneys need help and they know it. They've been feeling out potential lawyers and could announce an addition or two soon, according to a source familiar. But, as another source adds, no one has the mandate to do anything. The lawyers can try to execute a plan, one source says, but nothing matters until the President goes for it.

There needs to be someone who can talk to the President, multiple sources say. But there is no ultimate Trump whisperer. There are different whisperers at different times and none seem to have staying power, save maybe for the family. Chief of staff John Kelly seems to be receding, by many accounts. Hope Hicks is gone. He listens to old friends and ex-advisers, but three sources say this much is clear: he is calling the shots. Not just the political shots but the legal shots.

He tweets when he wants to. And he will probably fire when he wants to, despite advice to the contrary (see: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein). He "just doesn't want to hear anything," says an ally.

The legal team, while continuing to speak with the special counsel about the President's potential testimony (which now seems highly unlikely), is a demoralized bunch, although they would never admit it out of loyalty. And why shouldn't they be? They're trying to corral a "wild horse," as one source close to the President describes him, into a singular direction.

But this wild horse can't be dragged in any way.

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