World

Trump Hires Prive Attorney For Russia Investigation

| by Simone Stover

President Donald Trump is set to retain a private attorney to represent him during the investigation of his campaign's possible relations to Russia. 

According to Reuters, U.S. intelligence agencies said back in January that Russia had tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Trump's favor. Since that time, both Russia and Trump have denied any involvement. 

On May 18, CNN reported that the Justice Department had appointed Robert Mueller -- a former director of the FBI -- as a special counsel to oversee the investigation into whether Russia had interfered in the election and if members of Trump's campaign had been involved in such interference in any way. Mueller -- who, according to ABC News, was head of the FBI for 12 years -- was informed of his appointment in a letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The decision to appoint Mueller came a week after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, who had been leading an investigation into the possible relationship between members of Trump's campaign and Russian officials. Trump's decision to fire Comey sparked criticism and contributed to rising suspicions of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

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On May 23, Reuters reported that -- according to a source familiar with the decision -- Trump had decided to hire longtime legal aid Marc Kasowitz to represent him in the Justice Department's investigation. 

Kasowitz is a New-York based trial lawyer who has represented Trump for over 15 years. Trump has also been connected to several other members of Kasowitz's firm (Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, according to ABC News). For example, Trump is reportedly considering former Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut -- who is now a senior counsel at Kasowitz's firm -- as a candidate to replace Comey as FBI Director. In addition to Trump, Kasowitz also represents OJSC Sberbank of Russia, the country's largest bank.

"He can be aggressive -- he's got that in him for sure," said John Quinn, of the firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, when describing Kasowitz. "He also can be smooth as silk, respectful and deferential." Quinn has worked both with and opposite Kasowitz. 

In his time as Trump's attorney, Kasowitz has aided Trump in his defense against fraud claims regarding Trump University, which were settled for $25 million after the end of the 2016 election. Kasowitz also asked The New York Times to retract a story about women who claimed Trump had touched them inappropriately, threatening to sue the publication if it did not (the suit never took place). 

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Reuters' source has reportedly said that Kasowitz is expected to bring on a team of lawyers in order to defend Trump. This system of defense would be separate from The White House Counsel's Office. 

Sources: Reuters, ABC News, CNN / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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