President Donald Trump’s outside legal defense team received bad news last week after a deal that they had reached with former South Carolina Republican Representative Trey Gowdy fell through due to lobbying rules.
The move, which was revealed on Tuesday, fell apart the next day “with lobbying rules prohibiting Mr. Gowdy from starting until January, possibly after the inquiry is over,” The New York Times reported on Sunday night. “Now, according to two people familiar with events, Mr. Gowdy is never expected to join the team. And Trump advisers are back to square one, searching for a different lawyer.”
Trump and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with Gowdy on Tuesday at the White House where they discussed over lunch him joining the president’s outside legal defense team.
After the lunch, Trump signed off on the move to bring Gowdy on.
“But within 30 minutes of that statement’s going public, Mr. Gowdy alerted Mr. Trump’s lawyers to a problem. His law firm, Nelson Mullins, had concerns that his work would involve lobbying activity. There was a discussion about whether Nelson Mullins could still be used, but a Trump adviser said that decision had been put off until January, when Mr. Gowdy’s lobbying ban concludes,” The New York Times added. “Without Mr. Gowdy, who lost his paid contributorship at Fox News after the announcement, and with another of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, sidelined from appearing on television for the moment as he is drawn increasingly into the Ukraine matter at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, the president’s team remains outgunned in the fight for public opinion.”
“I have known Trey for years and worked with him when he served in Congress,” Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement on Wednesday. “His legal skills and his advocacy will serve the president well. Trey’s command of the law is well known and his service on Capitol Hill will be a great asset as a member of our team.”
New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman noted late last week that Trump’s comments on Friday that Gowdy could not join until Friday “means Gowdy is unlikely to ever join in the capacity he was hired for,” adding that “someone in [the] West Wing badly wanted a win internally and put out Gowdy before it was a done deal. So it was quickly done yesterday and then had to be undone.”
Terry Sullivan, who ran Gowdy’s first congressional campaign in 2010, told the Associated Press last week before the deal fell apart that it was “absolutely a super smart thing for the Trump [team] to do. Trey is ridiculously smart — not only a darn good attorney but a very compelling and convincing individual.”
Even Republicans who are often highly critical of the president, like “The View” co-host Meghan McCain, noted that the move to bring Gowdy onto Trump’s outside legal defense team was a big-time move by the president.
“He’s one of the great congressmen,” McCain said. “He’s someone I have respected for years. You can laugh all you want, but the fact he’s joining Trump’s team is good news for Trump, and bad news for Democrats.”