John Dowd, President Donald Trump’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation, resigned earlier today. According to The New York Times, which spoke with an individual briefed on the matter, Dowd had concluded that the president was ignoring his advice.
Dowd, who considered leaving his post several times since taking over as head of the president’s legal team last summer, kept his statement to the press short and crisp.
I love the president,” Dowd told New York Times reporters in a telephone interview. “I wish him the best of luck. I think he has a really good case.”
— CNN (@CNN) March 22, 2018
Dowd’s departure comes after a hectic last few days, during which the president attracted significant criticism for assailing special counsel Robert Mueller, who is spearheading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump also had earlier announced his intention to sit down for an interview with Mueller and his team, despite Dowd’s advice not to. (Dowd is just one member of an extensive legal team who, aware of the president’s tendency to promote falsehoods, has cited concerns that he might perjure himself during an interview with the special counsel.)
Trump, for his part, is said to “be pleased” with Dowd’s resignation as he had grown frustrated with him, particularly after Dowd, during an appearance on network television, called for an end to the Justice Department’s investigation. Dowd claimed at the time that he was speaking on behalf of the president but later walked back his assertion. The president reacted to Dowd’s recantation with anger. “I’m sitting here working on the president’s case right now,” Dowd said Monday, swatting away rumors that he was considering leaving after the president’s outburst.
Nor is Dowd the only member of the legal team who has drawn the president’s ire. Trump is said to be considering terminating longtime lawyer Ty Cobb, who has advocated for cooperating with Mueller and his associates. As the Times reports, the president “has discussed with close associates in recent days whether to fire Mr. Cobb, while reassuring Mr. Cobb that he had no plans to do so.”
Unsurprisingly, Dowd’s resignation sparked a social media firestorm, with some drawing comparisons to Leonard Garment, an attorney of former President Richard Nixon’s who resigned amid the Watergate scandal. A Washington Post article dated December 7, 1974, notes that Garment “was one of the first aides to warn Nixon of the potential dangers of Watergate, but his advice went unheeded.”
Your obligatory Watergate comparison to the news that Trump’s lead lawyer John Dowd has resigned because his client won’t take his advice. pic.twitter.com/hnNGeoGg78
— Andre Plaut (@andreplaut) March 22, 2018
John Dowd, Trump's lead shyster in the Russia inquiry, has just resigned. Those who do not heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. pic.twitter.com/JyKHfEaUsi
— Mike Flannigan (@MikeFlannigan59) March 22, 2018
— Belleabusta (@RebelRebbetzin) March 22, 2018
John Dowd walked away from being the lead defense attorney in the trial of his lifetime. This is the holy grail for defense attorneys, an opportunity to prove a President’s innocence on the grandest of stages. You only walk if your client is guilty.
— Treason Stickers (@treasonstickers) March 22, 2018
It’s unclear who will take over as head of the president’s legal counsel. Jay Sekulow, a longtime friend and attorney to Trump, is said to be the favorite to assume the role. In a statement, Sekulow referred to Dowd as “a friend”:
John Dowd is a friend and has been a valuable member of our legal team. We will continue our ongoing representation of the president and our cooperation with the office of special counsel.