Trump hires lawyer who has pushed theory that Justice Dept framed the President

US President Donald Trump delivers an address on his plan for curbing the opioid crisis while at Manchester Community College in Manchester, New Hampshire, US on March 19, 2018.
US President Donald Trump delivers an address on his plan for curbing the opioid crisis while at Manchester Community College in Manchester, New Hampshire, US on March 19, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - President Donald Trump hired long-time Washington lawyer Joseph E. diGenova on Monday (March 19), adding an aggressive voice to his legal team who has pushed the theory on television that the FBI and Justice Department framed Trump.

DiGenova, a former US attorney, is not expected to take a lead role. But he will serve as an outspoken player for the president as Trump has increased his attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump broke over the weekend from the long-standing advice of some of his lawyers that he refrain from directly criticising Mueller, a sign of his growing unease with the investigation.

"Former US attorney for the District of Columbia Joe DiGenova will be joining our legal team later this week," said Jay Sekulow, one of the president's personal lawyers.

"I have worked with Joe for many years and have full confidence that he will be a great asset in our representation of the president."

DiGenova has endorsed the notion that a secretive group of FBI agents concocted the Russia investigation as a way to keep 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.

Little evidence has emerged to support that theory.

Trump's legal team has been in tumult in recent weeks. On Saturday, Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, called on the Justice Department to end the special counsel investigation. Dowd said at the time that he was speaking for the president but later backtracked. According to two people briefed on the matter, he was in fact acting at the president's urging to call for an end to the inquiry.

Earlier this month, Trump did not tell his lawyers that he was in discussions with another Washington lawyer, Emmet T. Flood, about representing him. Flood represented former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings.

DiGenova did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

DiGenova served as an independent counsel in government waste, fraud and abuse investigations, notably a three-year criminal inquiry into whether officials in the George H.W. Bush administration broke any laws in their search for damaging information about then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton.

In 1995, diGenova declared the investigation he led was "unnecessary."