Lawyer Ty Cobb to join White House to handle Russia probes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The White House is hiring Ty Cobb, a veteran Washington lawyer with experience as a prosecutor and defense attorney to assist with Russia-related investigations, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Cobb has been a long-time partner at the law firm Hogan Lovells in Washington and represented people in government during the 1990s Clinton administration.

Cobb did not respond to a request for comment, and a spokesman for the law firm declined to comment.

“We have no announcement at this time,” a White House spokeswoman said.

A federal special counsel and several congressional panels are investigating allegations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and potential connections between Russian officials and the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump.

Moscow has denied any interference and the President has denied any collusion.

The intelligence agencies said earlier this year that Russia sought to help Trump win the election by hacking private emails from Democratic Party officials and spreading false information.

Cobb is expected to be an intermediary between the White House and Congress, as well as outside attorneys.

Trump met with Cobb about the role last month, Reuters exclusively reported on July 3. Bloomberg News wrote about his hiring earlier on Friday.

Cobb’s role is separate from Trump’s outside legal team, led by New York lawyer Marc Kasowitz. Constitutional lawyer and evangelical radio talk show host Jay Sekulow, Washington lawyer John Dowd, and Michael Bowe, a partner at Kasowitz’s firm, are all on that team.

Cobb, who sports a handlebar mustache, is a distant relative of the famous early 20th century baseball player of the same name.

Washington lawyer Robert Bennett, also of Hogan Lovells, who represented President Bill Clinton in the sexual harassment case filed by Paula Jones, said Cobb knew how to handle a crisis where politics and the law intersected.

“Given recent developments, they really need him and need to listen to him,” said Bennett.

In the 1990s, Cobb, 66, represented former Democratic National Committee fundraiser John Huang and former White House aide David Watkins, who was probed over the Clinton White House travel office.

In 2006, Cobb also represented former CIA official Mary McCarthy, who was fired after she was accused of providing classified information to reporters. No charges were brought against McCarthy.

Cobb graduated from Harvard University and earned his law degree at Georgetown. In the 1980s, he was a federal prosecutor in Baltimore, where he led a regional drug and organized crime task force. (Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington)