The newest member of the Trump legal team is a former U.S. attorney who has spread conspiracy theories about the FBI and the Justice Department. Joseph E. diGenova, who joined the team Monday, is slated to start work later this week but has been speaking out against former FBI Director James Comey and special counsel Robert Mueller for months, calling Comey a “dirty cop” and arguing that Mueller’s Russia probe has questionable origins.

The New York Times reports:

Mr. diGenova, a former United States attorney, is not expected to take a lead role. But he will serve as an outspoken player for the president as Mr. Trump has increased his attacks on the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Trump broke over the weekend from the longstanding advice of some of his lawyers that he refrain from directly criticizing Mr. Mueller, a sign of his growing unease with the investigation. …

Mr. diGenova has endorsed the notion that a secretive group of F.B.I. agents concocted the Russia investigation as a way to keep Mr. Trump from becoming president. “There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime,” he said on Fox News in January. He added, “Make no mistake about it: A group of F.B.I. and D.O.J. people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.”

Little evidence has emerged to support that theory.

DiGenova has also made reference to text messages between two FBI officials that were revealed last month. Fox News reported that lawyer Lisa Page told her lover, agent Peter Strzok, in a September 2016 text message that then-President Obama wanted “to know everything we’re doing.” Many conservatives believed the messages were evidence of widespread anti-Trump bias in federal law enforcement, but The Wall Street Journal clarified that the texts were actually about Obama wanting to learn more about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, not about the Clinton investigation.

Nevertheless, diGenova insisted that the texts indicated an attack on Trump. “Everything we have seen from these texts, and from all the facts developing, shows that the FBI and senior DOJ officials conspired to violate the law, and deny Donald Trump his civil rights,” he said.

A source familiar with Trump’s legal strategy told Politico that the hiring of diGenova is a bad sign for Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer who has long argued that cooperating with Mueller’s probe is the most likely way to bring about a quick resolution. Cobb issued a statement Sunday saying that the president’s comments against Mueller should not be interpreted as a sign that the special counsel’s job is in jeopardy.

“I don’t think he’s long for this team,” the source said of Cobb. “It’s clear the president wants to be more aggressive.”

Politico continues:

Indeed, about 12 hours after Cobb’s remark that the president “is not considering or discussing the firing” of Mueller, Trump took to Twitter with a Monday morning post suggesting the special counsel faced ethical challenges that merited closer examination.

“A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!” Trump wrote, echoing complaints he made in private last June to White House counsel Don McGahn in an order to fire Mueller. …

Cobb’s fate has been up in the air for months. Some Trump boosters were arguing late last year that Cobb should be fired because he’d set up unrealistic expectations about when the Russia investigation will end.

DiGenova himself served as a special counsel in the 1990s, looking into fraud, government waste and abuse charges in various cases. He once investigated the George H.W. Bush administration to see if it had improperly searched for information about rival Bill Clinton during the 1992 presidential campaign.

However, diGenova has been vocal about his thoughts on special counsels, saying they brought too much “target attention” to investigations and argued that their role ought to be narrowed.

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