Relations between the special counsel in the Russian Federation investigation and President Trump and his legal team are growing more tense as Robert Mueller has told the lawyers Trump might be subpoeonaed if he doesn't agree to answer investigators' questions.
White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Wednesday that Flood would be joining the White House staff to "represent the president and the administration against the Russian Federation witch hunt". Even if one accepts that a sitting president cannot be indicted, the testimony could be used to prosecute after Trump leaves office and, of course, could be packaged up for Congress to use in impeachment proceedings.
It's the latest shakeup for a legal team grappling with unresolved questions on how to protect the president from legal and political jeopardy in Mueller's Russian Federation probe, which is nearing the one-year mark. John Dowd, then Trump's lead lawyer, was outraged.
White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who repeatedly urged cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller and assured the president such a strategy could shorten the investigation, announced he would leave his post at the end of the month.
But Trump's lawyers are preparing for it and have put together a list of 49 questions, as reported earlier, that they believe Mueller's team could ask, gleaned from conversations with them.
In fact, the meeting between Mueller's team and Trump's lawyers was so tense and the outcome so fraught for the President that it eventually led to the resignation of the John Dowd, one of President Trump's attorneys.
Now, however, as actual potential questions are being aired and talk of potential subpoenas is bandied about, the president is less enthusiastic.
Flood's selection came in part because the investigation had reached a pivotal moment, said one person familiar with his recruitment for the job.
All these matters continue to motivate many in Congress, Schiff included, to call for-in addition to a special counsel-an independent prosecutor not beholden to any government department and who can't be fired by the White House.
The others are questions to which Mueller already knows the answers and for which he has irrefutable hard evidence - and the quest is to see whether the president will be truthful.
Trump could seek a court order to quash the subpoena, though it's not clear that he would have any success.
But Trump's freewheeling speaking style is well-known both to his critics and his supporters, including his lawyers.More news: David Pastrnak leads way as Bruins feast on Lightning in Game 1
There's still no word from the White House as to whether Trump will sit down to answer these questions or others for the investigation.
The president's precarious position is not limited to questions about obstruction.
From the start, Trump's legal team has been out-manned by Mueller's.
The questions also reference television interviews that Trump has given.
Meanwhile, an increasingly panicky-sounding President has been tweeting furiously over the past 72 hours insisting there was no "collusion" with the Russians, and it is all a "witchhunt" - terms he has used more than a dozen times in recent weeks.
"There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap)".
Mueller also would like to know more about Trump's own Russian Federation connections.
Both in USA v. Nixon (telling Richard Nixon to turn over the tapes pursuant to a subpoena) and in the Paula Jones case (rejecting the argument that participation in a civil matter including a deposition "may impose an unacceptable burden on the President's time and energy, and thereby impair the effective performance of his office") the court held that the president is not beyond the reach of the normal discovery process in either criminal or civil matters.
Although Cobb does not personally represent the president, he has functioned as a critical point person for Mueller's document and interview requests, coordinated dealings with prosecutors and worked closely with Trump's personal lawyers.
In a Tuesday tweet, Trump blasts what he calls a "rigged system".
Trump also indicated that he could end up firing Muller by warning, "At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!" Meantime, in the House, Freedom Caucus members have drafted articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller's boss. "And I think they should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted".