Mr John Dowd resigned his appointment on Thursday as President Trump’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation as Mr. Trump indicated that he was prepared to ignore his advice and wanted a sit-down with investigators.
After some days of uncertainty among the president’s lawyers about their status, Mr. Dowd ultimately broke with Mr. Trump over whether he should agree to be questioned in the inquiry, a person briefed on the matter said.
Dowd viewed an interview as too risky; Trump reiterated shortly after Mr. Dowd resigned that he wanted to clear his name. “I would like to,” the president told reporters at the White House when asked about meeting with investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. “I would like to.”
Dowd’s departure has cleared the way for the president to embrace a more aggressive posture toward the investigation and marked another reshuffling of personnel for Mr. Trump. In the most politically consequential investigation in decades, the president has rearranged his legal team several times, a revolving door that mirrors the high turnover among senior White House and campaign aides.
“I love the president,” Mr. Dowd said in a telephone interview. “I wish him the best of luck. I think he has a really good case.”
Now, as he weighs whether to be interviewed by Mr. Mueller, the president will be advised by a cadre of lawyers better known for their television and advocacy work than their courtroom triumphs.
This week, the president hired Joseph E. diGenova, a longtime Washington lawyer who has pushed the theory on Fox News that the F.B.I. and Justice Department framed Mr. Trump.
The former United States attorney in Washington, Mr. diGenova has been on television in recent years more than he has been in court. He has appeared in only three federal criminal cases in the past two decades, according to the national database of federal court records, and has not filed an appearance in a federal criminal case in eight years.
Mr. diGenova was brought aboard by Jay Sekulow, his longtime friend and the president’s other personal lawyer for the Mueller investigation.
Mr. Sekulow, a constitutional lawyer, and radio host, has specialized in religious freedom and campaign finance cases and appeared in numerous civil cases, including filing lawsuits and amicus briefs in recent years against the Obama administration. Most notably, Mr. Sekulow sued the Internal Revenue Service over improper delays in processing tax-exempt status for conservative groups.
The president is also considering restoring Marc E. Kasowitz, his longtime personal lawyer, to a larger role. Mr. Kasowitz had run the legal team until he was pushed aside last summer, but he was still in contact with the president occasionally over the past several months and supports the aggressive approach the president is veering toward.
As his relationship with Mr. Dowd grew strained, the president sought top legal help in recent weeks, but his discussions with well-regarded lawyers — including Emmet T. Flood, who represented President Bill Clinton during impeachment — have yielded little fruit.