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Trump backs down from hiring 2 lawyers to defend him in Russia probe

They cited a conflict of interest, according to a New York Times report.

Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova attend a House hearing in 2007.
The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Donald Trump will no longer hire two lawyers he had previously said would join the legal team representing him in the Russia probe.

The duo, Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing, apparently have a conflict of interest that prevents them defending Trump in the special counsel investigation by Robert Mueller, according to The New York Times. Toensing, who is married to DiGenova, is representing Mark Corallo, the former spokesperson for Trump’s legal team. Corallo reportedly told investigators he was worried that the president’s aide, Hope Hicks, was trying to obstruct justice when she crafted a statement describing a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer — a key focus of the probe.

On Sunday, Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer, gave the New York Times a statement:

The president is disappointed that conflicts prevent Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing from joining the president’s special counsel legal team...However, those conflicts do not prevent them from assisting the president in other legal matters. The president looks forward to working with them.

Trump’s legal team is facing major upheaval as the Russia investigation heats up. The president’s lead attorney, John Dowd, resigned Thursday after clashing with Trump about legal strategy. The president reportedly wanted to sit down for an interview with investigators, as they had requested, but Dowd believed it was too risky.

Trump met Thursday with DiGenova, who has been a staunch defender of the president on Fox News and has cast the Mueller probe as a conspiracy to oust the president, according to the Washington Post.

On Sunday, in a pair of tweets, Trump insisted that he was not having trouble finding lawyers to defend him.