As the federal investigation into the Trump campaign's potential ties to Russia continues to take shape, the president is reportedly taking the advice of numerous aides and seeking legal counsel to represent him in the matter. On Tuesday, ABC News reported that Trump plans to hire attorney Marc E. Kasowitz, his personal attorney who has represented him in business dealings over the past 15 years, to assist him throughout the investigation.
Kasowitz founded the law firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, and has been described by the Washington Post as Trump's "go-to lawyer." Known as a tough litigator, Kasowitz has represented the business mogul in numerous high-profile — and controversial — cases, long before Trump declared his candidacy for president.
In 2006, Kasowitz assisted Trump in a defamation lawsuit against an author who claimed that Trump was not the billionaire he claimed to be. Trump denied these claims, but he and Kasowitz were unable to prove actual malice to win the suit. Kasowitz also defended Trump in the infamous fraud claims against Trump University, when Trump denied the charges and settled out of court with a multi-million dollar settlement, and he also threatened to sue the New York Times in 2016 if the paper did not issue a retraction for publishing accounts of multiple women who claimed that Trump groped them. Ultimately, no lawsuit was filed, and no retraction issued.
Kasowitz represented another divisive figure in the past. He was the attorney for former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly during his legal battle following numerous sexual assault allegations made against him by former co-workers, which O'Reilly denies. Kasowitz referred to the allegations against O'Reilly as "McCarthyism," stating that the reports of sexual harassment were nothing but a smear campaign orchestrated by left-wing activists to remove the host from the network.
President Trump has faced increasing pressure from aides and legal experts to hire outside legal counsel as the investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials to influence the 2016 election continues to heat up. Trump insisted last week that there was "no collusion" between him and the Russians. Still, former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been appointed by the Justice Department to lead an independent investigation, and several congressional committees are also looking into the matter.
But Trump's decision to hire Kasowitz may pose even more questions about potential conflicts of interest. Trump's potential pick to replace James Coney as FBI Director, Senator Joe Lieberman, works for Kasowitz's firm, and Kasowitz's former legal partner, David Friedman, currently serves as Trump's U.S. Ambassador to Israel.
The investigation into Trump's potential ties to Russia seems to get murkier every day, and it's unclear just where it will all lead. But what we do know for now is that Trump will likely be receiving some legal assistance to help him wade through the muck.