John Dowd, Trump's lead Russia probe lawyer, resigns

Dowd was the head of Trump's legal team on the special counsel probe.

March 22, 2018, 1:06 PM

John Dowd, President Trump’s lead attorney for the ongoing investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller, has resigned.

"I love the President and wish him well,” Dowd told ABC News.

Just last weekend, Dowd created a firestorm when he said "I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe's boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier," Dowd said reacting to the termination of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

"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,” Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president told ABC News.

The news was first reported by The New York Times.

Sources familiar with Dowd’s resignation tell ABC News over the last several months say the attorney has felt the president was taking less of his advice.

Since taking over as the president’s lead attorney, Dowd has served as the point person on negotiating what a Trump interview with the special counsel could look like.

As ABC News has previously reported, part of that negotiation included the format – whether it was an interview, a questionnaire, or a mix of both. Sources have also previously told ABC News among the topics the special counsel wants to ask Trump about include the firing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and the firing of former FBI director James Comey.

It is unclear who will take lead on the negotiations after Dowd’s departure.

Trump was asked by the pool press on Thursday whether he would still like to testify before the special counsel. The president responded “Yes. I would like to. I would like to.”

Trump did not answer a press question about Dowd.

Jay Sekulow remains on the president’s team working with Joe diGenova, who joined the team last week, for all matters related to the president. A former federal prosecutor, diGenova has been a fierce defender of the president on cable TV. His wife and partner at their private practice, Victoria Toensing, is also likely to join the Trump legal defense team, according to a knowledgeable source. Toensing had no comment.

Earlier this month, diGenova told FOX News that the media is out to attack the president because the press “like Comey and McCabe and the senior Obama DOJ people, hate Donald Trump. And they believe that anything, including violating every known standard of federal law enforcement is justified to either keep him from office or, if elected, take him out of office."

Ty Cobb, who has served as the White House attorney handling all matters related to the investigation for the Presidency - meaning the administration and staff for example - has also been on thin ice with the president. In recent weeks the president has discussed with his closest advisors potentially firing Cobb, but he has privately told the attorney he has no plans to remove him.

Eleven days ago Trump took to Twitter to say he was perfectly happy with his team.“The Failing New York Times purposely wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case and am going to add another lawyer to help out. Wrong. I am VERY happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow. They are doing a great job…..”

Dowd’s departure is not the first round of changes among the president’s lawyers on this probe — last summer the president removed his longtime personal attorney, Mark Kasowitz as the lead attorney on the probe.

Related Topics