WC suggests we ignore the distractions and attempts to distract for a moment. The Trump claim that the FBI panted an “informant” in his campaign; the claim of a power to pardon himself? In the Trump legal circus, this is the equivalent of sending in the clowns, to distract the audience from the crew changing the set.
The real issue is whether the President will submit to an interview by Mueller or respond to a grand jury subpoena.
Rudi Guiliani, at one time a decent federal prosecutor, has become on of those clowns. You can safely ignore anything he says. He’s not acting as an attorney for the President; his role is as a clown, distracting or attempting to distract. If he were to make an interesting or damaging concession, his “client,” the President, would immediately disavow anything he’d said. As Trump has done in the past.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ skills at not answering questions have improved to the point that her answers are largely content-free.
Mueller, as he should be, is pretty tight-lipped about the status of the investigation. But we can be reasonably certain one of his focuses of inquiry will be the secret meeting in Trump Tower between his sons, members of his campaign team and a Russian source who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. And, especially, the memo that Trump dictated for his son following that meeting.
Because not only was Junior’s memo a lie – the President said it was about adoptions – but the President knew it was a lie and – this is the important part – has admitted it was a lie, through his real attorneys, in their own legal memorandum to Mueller.
Why did Trump’s real lawyers, not a clown like Michael Cohen or Rudi Guiliani, but his legal team, admit that their client had dictated a memo, putting words in Donald Junior’s mouth, admitting a key point?
After all, Mueller’s primary task is to determine if there was collusion between Russians and the Trump campaign. The meeting at Trump Tower was to get dirt on Clinton from the Russians. It sure looks like collusion. And Trump attempted, through a memo dictated for his son, to cover up the real purpose of the meeting. That’s very, very close to obstruction of justice. And the Trump legal defense team has admitted it happened.
Huh. The Trump team must know that Mueller has hard, unequivocal evidence of those things.
And Team Trump’s argument is that since Trump has admitted this, and Mueller has proof anyway, Mueller doesn’t need to either interview or subpoena the Commander-in-Chief.
As legal arguments go, that’s not very good.
In fact, for WC that actually strengthens the argument for questioning. As former White House counsel Bob Bauer put it, “This raises all sorts of questions as to why he did it.” What did Trump know at the time he wrote dictated the memo? How did Trump know the Trump Tower meeting had occurred? Did he know about the meeting in advance? And why did Trump write something we now know wasn’t true? “The moment that they concede that they lied about [Trump’s role], the argument for the interview is strengthened, not weakened.”
There’s a saying among lawyers: “When you have the law, pound on the law. When you don’t have the law but have the fact, pound on the facts. If you don’t have the law or the facts, pound on the table.” Team Trump is pounding on the table.
Which is why Team Trump has sent in the clowns. It’s why Trump tweets about an unbounded pardon power. It’s going badly for Trump, and he wants to distract us from that reality.
Likely the U.S. Supreme Court will decide if Trump must submit to an interview, or respond to a subpoena, or both. And that legal fight hasn’t even started yet.
But in the meantime, ignore the distractions. When you see distractions, try to figure out what Team Trump is trying to hide. The more outrageous the claim (“I can pardon myself.”) the harder you should look for the real issue.