A growing number of White House and Trump campaign officials are hiring their own lawyers to handle the wide-ranging probe into whether the president’s associates colluded with Russia’s 2016 election-meddling effort.
The increasing number of lawyers could make life more difficult for a White House staff that is struggling to advance President Trump’s policy agenda by limiting communication and creating divisions between aides.
Trump, Vice President Pence and the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner, have all hired personal lawyers. Several former aides and allies, including Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Boris Epshteyn and Michael Caputo, have also done so, as has Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen.
Donald Trump Jr. became the latest member of Trump’s inner circle to seek legal help by retaining New York criminal defense attorney Alan Futerfas.
Trump’s eldest son isn’t a member of his administration, but emails that show he sought a meeting with a Russian lawyer offering compromising information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton have dominated headlines this week, invigorating the swirling controversy over Russia’s involvement in the election and creating a serious disruption for the White House.
Hiring lawyers could place a heavy financial burden on some staff who did not enter government service with large bank accounts.
But Trump allies and White House veterans who have dealt with investigations say it’s prudent for staff members who might be swept up in the Russia probe to enlist their own legal help.
“It’s irresponsible and reckless for anyone near these allegations to not have counsel,” said one Republican operative with close ties to the White House. “They would be compromising their colleagues in the White House without it … we all know this is political, but they need to be hiring lawyers to defend themselves against these baseless allegations.”