On Saturday, Donald Trump’s least favorite reporter on the planet, Maggie Haberman, published a story in the New York Times that details how White House counsel Don McGahn cooperated extensively with Robert Mueller.
Over the course of what the Times describes as “at least three voluntary interviews that totaled 30 hours”, McGahn documented Trump’s anger at the special counsel probe and elaborated on the President’s mindset when he fired James Comey. McGahn also talked quite a bit about Trump’s frustration with Jeff Sessions and attempts to fire Mueller himself, a process which McGahn refused to participate in last summer.
Apparently, McGahn and his attorney found the strategy of Trump’s other lawyers (John Dowd and Ty Cobb) too stupid to be true. “Last fall, Mueller’s office asked to interview McGahn [and] to the surprise of the White House Counsel’s Office, Trump and his lawyers signaled that they had no objection, without knowing the extent of what McGahn was going to tell investigators”, Haberman writes, adding that “McGahn and his lawyer grew suspicious and began telling associates that they had concluded that the president had decided to let McGahn take the fall for decisions that could be construed as obstruction of justice.”
Haberman describes a comedy of errors that generally paints Trump, McGahn, Dowd and Cobb as something akin to four stooges haplessly trying to fend off a team of experienced, aggressive federal prosecutors. The punchline comes when Haberman says this:
Dowd said that cooperation was the right approach but that Mueller had “snookered” Trump’s legal team.
As the months passed on, it became apparent that McGahn and [his lawyer] had overestimated the amount of thought that they believed the president put into his legal strategy. Rather than placing the blame on McGahn for possible acts of obstruction, Trump has yet to even meet with the special counsel, his lawyers resisting an invitation for an interview.
It’s not clear why anyone would ever “overestimate the amount of thought” Trump puts into anything, but the bottom line appears to be that Mueller has the complete version of events straight from McGahn and that is clearly not good for the President in the obstruction case.
Trump has attacked Haberman numerous times over the course of his presidency, calling her “sad“, “third rate” and a “Hillary flunky“, among other derisive names. Late last month, the President revealed the details of an ostensibly off-the-record meeting he had with New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger. When the Times responded, Trump flew off the handle, calling the media “unpatriotic”, before adding that he “will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters in the dying newspaper industry.”
As you might imagine, Trump is furious with the McGahn article. Here’s his full Twitter rant, complete with misspellings and bad punctuation:
@nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type “RAT.” But I allowed him and all others to testify – I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide…… …. and have demanded transparency so that this Rigged and Disgusting Witch Hunt can come to a close. So many lives have been ruined over nothing – McCarthyism at its WORST! Yet Mueller & his gang of Dems refuse to look at the real crimes on the other side – Media is even worse! No Collusion and No Obstruction, except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats. All of the resignations and corruption, yet heavily conflicted Bob Mueller refuses to even look in that direction. What about the Brennan, Comey, McCabe, Strzok lies to Congress, or Crooked’s Emails! The Failing New York Times wrote a story that made it seem like the White House Councel had TURNED on the President, when in fact it is just the opposite – & the two Fake reporters knew this. This is why the Fake News Media has become the Enemy of the People. So bad for America! Some members of the media are very Angry at the Fake Story in the New York Times. They actually called to complain and apologize – a big step forward. From the day I announced, the Times has been Fake News, and with their disgusting new Board Member, it will only get worse!
Nope, nothing at all strange about that. Just a completely innocent man barricading himself in the bathroom and rage tweeting about “witch hunts” and “councels” and “McCarthyism” and “gangs” and things that “disgust” him.
Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani is doing what Rudy Giuliani does best: making things immeasurably worse.
Trump’s July 29 Twitter harangue aimed at the Times came just minutes ahead of a breathless tirade aimed at Mueller. That, in turn, presaged an extraordinarily aggressive push by Giuliani to discredit the special counsel probe. That push is ongoing and has taken the form of increasingly vindictive tweets from Trump, a series of ill-advised comments from Giuliani in the media and calls for Jeff Sessions to effectively un-recuse himself on the way to shutting the probe down. Giuliani’s comments to the media have generally centered around the notion that one way or another, Trump “expects” the Mueller probe to be concluded by September 1, a meaningless thing to say because it isn’t up to Trump when the probe is concluded.
On Saturday, following the Times story, Giuliani tweeted the following:
Time for Mueller investigation to file report. We will release ours. Don’t interfere with election like Comey. The President had nothing to do with Russians. He didn’t obstruct an investigation. 1.4 million documents and 32 witnesses no privilege raised.
As a reminder, Giuliani is preparing what he calls a “counter-memo” aimed at discrediting the Mueller report, and that’s assuming Mueller sticks to his word and doesn’t decide to throw everyone for a loop by indicting the President. Additionally, do note that Giuliani continues to lean on the “don’t interfere with election like Comey” line, which is extremely bizarre because that sounds like a tacit admission that Comey cost Hillary Clinton the election.
In any event, Giuliani showed up on MSNBC on Sunday morning and, quite literally, told the American public that “truth isn’t truth”. Watch this:
Notice how Chuck Todd actually tries (desperately) to help Rudy out, saying “don’t do this, this is going to become a bad meme”.
And you know, that’s what it’s going to come down to anyway, so I suppose it’s appropriate. Trump’s support base is going to have to decide whether or not they want to suspend disbelief indefinitely or finally admit to themselves that they were (sadly) duped and that this whole thing was always based on a lie.
On that note, I’ll just leave you with what Trump told a rally in Kansas City on July 24…