US & Canada

Trump-Russia: President's legal team shake-up falters

US President Donald Trump Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Trump insists he is not struggling to find lawyers to represent him

US President Donald Trump will no longer hire two lawyers whose appointments were announced last week, with the shake-up of his legal team appearing to hit a stumbling block.

Joe diGenova's appointment to the team handling the special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling was announced on Monday.

Victoria Toensing, who is married to Mr diGenova, was also expected to join.

But Mr Trump's personal lawyer said "conflicts" had prevented their hiring.

"The president is disappointed that conflicts prevent Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing from joining the president's special counsel legal team," Jay Sekulow said in a statement.

"Those conflicts do not prevent them from assisting the president in other legal matters," he added. "The president looks forward to working with them."

The details of the conflicts are unclear, but Mr Sekulow said on Friday that the hiring of Mr diGenova was dependent on a review of potential conflicts of interest.

The couple's namesake law firm - diGenova & Toensing - is reported to be representing other clients involved in the special counsel's Russia investigation.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is leading an inquiry into possible links between Mr Trump's associates and Russia.

In a statement, Ms Toensing said: "We thank the president for his confidence in us and we look forward to working with him on other matters."

Mr diGenova, a combative former US attorney, has appeared on Fox News where he has frequently defended the president.

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Trump insisted in a series of tweets that he was having no difficulty finding lawyers to represent him.

"Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case," he said.

The news that Mr diGenova and Ms Toensing will not be joining the president's legal team follows the resignation of its lead lawyer, John Dowd.

Mr Dowd, 77, reportedly concluded that Mr Trump was ignoring his advice. Other reports suggested the president had lost confidence in him.

Under his leadership, Mr Trump's team of lawyers advised the president to co-operate with the special counsel investigation.

It is not yet clear who will replace Mr Dowd.

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