The NY Times has a story today that is making waves, concerning the cooperation of White House counsel Donald McGahn with Robert Mueller and his team, with the permission of Trump.

If true, it reflects an incredible naïveté on the part of Trump, and incompetence on the part of his first set of lawyers, as to how to deal with the Mueller investigation.

Here’s the lede, White House Counsel Has Cooperated Extensively With Mueller’s Obstruction Inquiry:

The White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, has cooperated extensively in the special counsel investigation, sharing detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice, including some that investigators would not have learned of otherwise, according to a dozen current and former White House officials and others briefed on the matter.

In at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled 30 hours over the past nine months, Mr. McGahn described the president’s furor toward the Russia investigation and the ways in which he urged Mr. McGahn to respond to it. He provided the investigators examining whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice a clear view of the president’s most intimate moments with his lawyer….

For a lawyer to share so much with investigators scrutinizing his client is unusual. Lawyers are rarely so open with investigators, not only because they are advocating on behalf of their clients but also because their conversations with clients are potentially shielded by attorney-client privilege, and in the case of presidents, executive privilege….

Mr. McGahn’s cooperation began in part as a result of a decision by Mr. Trump’s first team of criminal lawyers to collaborate fully with Mr. Mueller. The president’s lawyers have explained that they believed their client had nothing to hide and that they could bring the investigation to an end quickly.

The story does not provide much detail as to what McGahn told Mueller, but rather, focuses on the topics covered and the unusual nature of such cooperation.

And indeed, if Trump and his first set of lawyers decided not to assert attorney-client and executive privileges, it’s almost incomprehensible.

For the one-millionth time, I’ll repeat that Robert Mueller and his team want Trump indicted (which would have to wait until he leaves office) or impeached. It’s that simple. Anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves.

Trump believing himself to be free of criminality or bad behavior will not sway Team Mueller.

Trump actually being free or criminality or bad behavior also will not sway Team Mueller.

I’m reminded of the scene from the fugitive, where the fugitive Dr. Richard Kimball wrongly accused of murder (Harrison Ford) is confronted by Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones).  The fugitive says “I didn’t kill my wife,” and the U.S. Marshal responds “I don’t care.”

The guilt or innocence of the fugitive was irrelevant to the task at hand — to capture the fugitive.

From day one Trump needed to proceed on the basis that Team Mueller didn’t care about his guilt or innocence, and that they wanted one thing only: To get Trump.

Trump’s reaction to the NY Times story seems to indicate he doesn’t yet get that.

The buried lede is in the 9th paragraph of the story in which some level of specificity is given as to what McGahn told Mueller (emphasis added):

In fact, Mr. McGahn laid out how Mr. Trump tried to ensure control of the investigation, giving investigators a mix of information both potentially damaging and favorable to the president. Mr. McGahn cautioned to investigators that he never saw Mr. Trump go beyond his legal authorities, though the limits of executive power are murky.

You know what else Team Mueller doesn’t care about? Don McGahn’s opinion as to the president’s innocence.


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