Emmet Flood, the latest lawyer added to the White House as part of its defense to the Russian investigation, was meant to bring experience and order to the chaotic legal team around President Donald Trump. However, his first public move can only be described as a blunder of the first order. Flood went to yesterday’s much discussed briefing to speak with members of Congress. Two highly classified briefings were scheduled to discuss the use of informants by the FBI in its investigation of Trump campaign associates. It was precisely the type of thoughtless act that has baffled many of us for months. Little would be achieved by Flood briefly addressing the members but, in appearing, Flood undermined the integrity and stated purpose of the meeting. He created the impression that the briefing was first and foremost about the defense of the President personally. In doing so, he undermined the entire exercise with virtually nothing to gain from his attending the meeting. None of this was criminal or unethical. The concern is that it shows a continued failure to mind critical lines of separation as well as a dumbfounding lack of judgment.
The first meeting included Rep. Trey Gowdy, Speaker Paul Ryan, Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Devin Nunes, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Rod Rosenstein, and Chris Wray. The second briefing involved the Congressional “Gang of Eight,” the leaders of both parties from both chambers, as well as the heads of the intelligence committees.
When Flood appeared, there were reportedly heated objections that his attendance was entirely inappropriate. Indeed, it was. It was also another unforced error that should have been avoided. After correctly calling for greater transparency and an investigation, the White House then stepped on its own message by arranging for a gratuitous appearance of one of the lawyers preparing the President’s defense.
The President was right to call for greater transparency and these briefings are a key step. However, these critical missteps have got to end if the Administration hopes to bring this controversy to a successful end.