Ya dirty rat

The Times ran a much discussed piece yesterday about a White House lawyer telling the Mueller inquiry the truth.

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.

Among them were Mr. Trump’s comments and actions during the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and Mr. Trump’s obsession with putting a loyalist in charge of the inquiry, including his repeated urging of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to claim oversight of it. Mr. McGahn was also centrally involved in Mr. Trump’s attempts to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which investigators might not have discovered without him.

This isn’t what lawyers usually do.

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.


McGahn didn’t want to suffer John Dean’s fate, so he talked frankly to Mueller’s team.

To investigators, Mr. McGahn was a fruitful witness, people familiar with the investigation said. He had been directly involved in nearly every episode they are scrutinizing to determine whether the president obstructed justice. To make an obstruction case, prosecutors who lack a piece of slam-dunk evidence generally point to a range of actions that prove that the suspect tried to interfere with the inquiry.

Mr. McGahn gave to Mr. Mueller’s investigators, the people said, a sense of the president’s mind-set in the days leading to the firing of Mr. Comey; how the White House handled the firing of the former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn; and how Mr. Trump repeatedly berated Mr. Sessions, tried to get him to assert control over the investigation and threatened to fire him.

So now Trump is pitching a fit.

President Trump attacked The New York Times on Sunday in a series of tweets in which he denounced a report describing the extensive cooperation between the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, and the special counsel’s investigators.

In the Twitter posts, the president confirmed that he had made the unusual decision to allow Mr. McGahn and other officials to cooperate fully with the inquiry, saying he had “nothing to hide.” But Mr. Trump said the Times article had falsely insinuated that Mr. McGahn had “turned” on him.

“The failing @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,’” Mr. Trump said, referring to the Nixon White House counsel who cooperated with investigators in the Watergate investigation.

Notice how breezily Trump reveals his mindset – that Dean’s telling the truth to Watergate investigators makes him a RAT. It couldn’t be more mob-boss-like.

The Times stands by its story.

The article detailed how Mr. McGahn, fearing that he could be made a scapegoat by the president, has described Mr. Trump’s actions and anger toward the Russia inquiry in at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled about 30 hours. In those interviews, Mr. McGahn gave the investigators information that they might not otherwise have gotten, according to a dozen current and former White House officials and others.

Mr. Trump used his tweets on Sunday morning, which he wrote from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., to intensify his assault on the special counsel investigation.

He called the inquiry “McCarthyism at its WORST!” — a reference to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s persecution of suspected communist sympathizers in the 1950s.

“Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby!” Mr. Trump said of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and his federal prosecutors. “Rigged Witch Hunt!”

I don’t think Trump himself has studied Joe McCarthy, because what he did is not similar to what Mueller is doing. I think Trump recognizes the name solely as a pejorative label meaning “something I don’t like,” so he has no idea how to apply it accurately or illuminatingly. Trump is far more akin to McCarthy in thinking and character than Mueller is.

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