Robert Costa and Ashley Parker, reporting for the Washington Post:
President Trump is moving rapidly toward assembling outside counsel to help him navigate the investigations into his campaign and Russian interference in last year’s election, and in recent days he and his advisers have privately courted several prominent attorneys to join the effort.
By Monday, a list of finalists for the legal team had emerged, according to four people briefed on the discussions.
That search process, in which Trump has been personally involved, is expected to yield a formal legal unit in the coming days, made up of lawyers from several firms who would work together to guide Trump as he responds both to the ongoing federal probe and the congressional investigations, the people said.
Although the list of finalists remains somewhat fluid and names could be added, two people close to the search said the president has concluded that he would like a team of attorneys, rather than a single lawyer, to represent him. The team is likely to have lead counselors, those people said.
The four people briefed on the discussions spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the matter publicly.
The attorneys who have spoken to the White House and who are seen as the finalists are Marc E. Kasowitz; Robert J. Giuffra Jr.; Reid H. Weingarten; and Theodore B. Olson, the people said.
Two other attorneys who were originally viewed as contenders but have since drifted away from the mix, at least momentarily, because of legal or professional obstacles are Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. of Williams & Connolly and A.B. Culvahouse Jr., a partner at O’Melveny & Myers who is known for vetting political candidates.
Kasowitz, who has known Trump for decades, is expected to take a leading role. A partner at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman in New York, Kasowitz has represented Trump in numerous cases, including on his divorce records, real estate transactions and allegations of fraud at Trump University.
A potential complication for Kasowitz is that former senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Trump’s leading candidate to head the FBI, is currently a senior counsel at his firm. Were Lieberman officially chosen to run the FBI, and Kasowitz chosen to help with Trump’s legal advice, both men — the one leading the organization investigating possible Russian collusion and the one offering Trump legal counsel on that very issue — would hail from the same firm, a likely conflict of interest.
Giuffra, Olson and Weingarten have already spoken with senior administration officials about the team, said a person familiar with the process.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment about how Trump would pay for his outside legal team, the cost of which cannot be covered by the federal government. But campaign finance lawyers said Trump could probably draw funds from his reelection committee to cover legal expenses related to the Russia inquiries, including money donated this year.
“When it comes to legal expenses, the test is whether the expenses would have been incurred irrespective of the campaign,” said Daniel Petalas, a Washington campaign-finance lawyer who served as the Federal Election Commission’s acting general counsel and head of enforcement. “So if the allegation is Trump — either as candidate or officeholder — is facing legal costs as a result of those statuses, then he is entitled to use his campaign funds to defray the legal expenses.”
In a break from precedent, Trump’s campaign committee has continued to aggressively solicit donations since his election. In recent days, the email and text appeals have invoked the controversies swirling around the White House.
“What you’re seeing in the news is a WITCH HUNT,” said a fundraising solicitation seeking $1 donations sent Friday. “But the real victim isn’t me. It’s YOU and the millions of other brave Americans who refused to bow down to Washington by voting for REAL CHANGE last November.”
The president, a former New York real estate developer and reality television star, also has the personal wealth to cover his legal costs.
Some outside experts noted that the president’s decision to consider a team of legal advisers, rather than a single outside counselor, could exacerbate his existing problem of competing power factions within an already chaotic White House.
Much more here.