WASHINGTON — Emmet T. Flood, the White House lawyer who oversaw the administration’s response to the special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, will step down from the job this month, President Trump said on Saturday.
The departure of Mr. Flood, who first rose to prominence when he defended President Bill Clinton during his impeachment in the 1990s, was always expected. Though Mr. Trump had considered Mr. Flood for other positions in the administration — including as White House counsel — Mr. Flood had always made it clear he wanted his purview limited to the Mueller investigation.
“He has done an outstanding job – NO COLLUSION – NO OBSTRUCTION! Case Closed!” Mr. Trump said on Twitter from his golf club in Sterling, Va. “Emmet is my friend, and I thank him for the GREAT JOB he has done.” The president added that Mr. Flood would leave his post on June 14.
After turning down overtures to work at the White House, Mr. Flood joined the administration last spring, rounding out a seemingly ever-changing cast of lawyers who tried and failed to assure the president that the investigation would end quickly. Mr. Flood oversaw a more emboldened strategy as the president grew more comfortable with publicly maligning the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
Often working behind the scenes as more flamboyant legal personalities around the president took to the airwaves, Mr. Flood was one of the first people to view the final Mueller report, which he quickly assailed in a letter to William P. Barr, the attorney general.
In the letter, Mr. Flood said the special counsel’s decision not to exonerate Mr. Trump of obstruction of justice could “be understood only as political statements” from federal prosecutors who were “rightly expected never to be political in the performance of their duties.”
The letter also foreshadowed the fight the White House and congressional investigators are waging over documents and subpoenas of the president’s aides. Mr. Flood indicated that while the president waived executive privilege over information presented in the report and encouraged his aides to cooperate with the special counsel, that did not preclude him from instructing his aides not to appear before congressional committees.
“It is one thing for a president to encourage complete cooperation and transparency in a criminal investigation conducted largely within the executive branch,” Mr. Flood wrote. “It is something else entirely to allow his advisers to appear before Congress, a coordinate branch of government, and answer questions relating to their communications with the president and with each other.”
Mr. Flood’s approach to the legal fight seemed to quickly earn the president’s trust. He initially replaced Ty Cobb, who oversaw interactions between the Trump administration and the special counsel’s office. Mr. Cobb eventually ran afoul of others on Mr. Trump’s legal team, which accused him of being too cooperative with investigators as he tried to bring the investigation to a swift close.
The arrival of Mr. Flood, who previously worked at the firm Williams & Connolly and last worked in the White House Counsel’s Office under George W. Bush, signaled a more emboldened front as the investigation dragged on. As Mr. Mueller’s office weighed the possibility of issuing a subpoena against Mr. Trump, Mr. Flood was among several lawyers who quietly worked to curtail access to the president. In the end, Mr. Trump never sat for an interview with Mr. Mueller.