WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s attorney announced Sunday that a veteran Washington husband-and-wife legal duo will not join Trump’s team handling the Russia probe.
“The President is disappointed that conflicts prevent Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing from joining the President’s Special Counsel legal team,” his lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said in a statement. “However, those conflicts do not prevent them from assisting the President in other legal matters. The President looks forward to working with them.”
Sekulow announced Monday that diGenova, a former US attorney for the District of Columbia, would be joining the team, and sources told CNN that he and Toensing met with Trump on Thursday. One source said the President liked the pair’s message, but was not convinced they were right for the legal jobs.
Trump’s lead lawyer, John Dowd, resigned from Trump’s personal legal team on the same day of the meeting as his disagreements with the President intensified and the President stepped up attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller. The reversal Sunday leaves Trump’s legal team with diminished resources as Mueller’s probe intensifies.
DiGenova and Toensing released a statement on the announcement Sunday, saying: “We thank the President for his confidence in us and we look forward to working with him on other matters.”
The announcement on Sunday came as Trump insisted on Twitter he was not having a hard time assembling a legal team for the Russia probe, and after CNN reported on Friday that diGenova and Toensing’s roles in the legal team were still in question.
Two sources previously told CNN that there was concern about diGenova and Toensing’s conflicts, and sources told CNN some members of the President’s legal team had opposed their hiring. Two sources also noted that Toensing represents clients who are connected to the special counsel probe led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Toensing had gotten conflict waivers from her clients, CNN has previously reported.
When asked what other legal issues besides the Mueller probe the couple could help Trump with, a source familiar with the matter told CNN there were myriad issues, like emoluments, in which they would lend a hand.
The possibility of diGenova’s hire attracted widespread attention to the legal figure’s brash comments about the Russia investigation, including the assertion that Trump had been “framed” by FBI and Justice Department officials.