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Ty Cobb, the White House attorney who served as President Donald Trump's lead counsel during the early stages of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, called the former FBI director and federal prosecutor an "American hero" in an interview published Tuesday.
Speaking on ABC News' "The Investigation" podcast, Cobb also disagreed with the president's assessment that the Russian investigation is a “witch hunt.”
"I think Bob Mueller's an American hero,” Cobb, who joined the White House in the summer of 2017 and left in May 2018, said. "I think Bob Mueller's a guy that, you know even though he came from an, arguably, privileged background, you know, has a backbone of steel."
"I think the world of Bob Mueller. He is a very deliberate guy. And but he's also a class act. And a very justice-oriented person," Cobb added.
Cobb said the Trump legal team's more confrontational approach to the Mueller probe "wouldn't have been" his strategy, adding that he doesn't "feel the same way about Mueller."
"I don't feel the investigation is a witch hunt," he said. “I wish it had happened on a quicker timetable. But it didn't. And that's unfortunate. But at the same time, it’s not a real criticism of the special counsel that on the timing because there were a lot of surprises."
Shortly after joining the White House in 2017, Cobb predicted in an interview with Reuters that the investigation would be over by Thanksgiving of that year.
"I’d be embarrassed if this is still haunting the White House by Thanksgiving, and worse if it's still haunting him by year end," Cobb said, adding, "I think the relevant areas of inquiry by the special counsel are narrow."
Cobb was replaced by Emmet Flood, who advised Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings. NBC News reported at the time of his departure from the White House that based on conversations with Cobb, he appeared largely in favor of Trump granting an interview to Mueller under the right conditions — which never did occur. He consistently encouraged the president and legal team to cooperate fully with Mueller to bring about what Cobb had hoped would be a swift end to the investigation.
In the ABC News interview, Cobb said he believes Mueller has already revealed most of his findings through sentencing memos and indictments against defendants like former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted of tax and bank fraud charges last year that were unrelated to his 2016 work for the president, as well as a group of Russian hackers.
“But it's never going to be over,” Cobb said. “I mean, this is going to go through 2020. And if the president is re-elected, it'll go beyond that.”