What the heck did Reince Priebus just do?


Even as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues to play four dimensional chess with his investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, Trump is playing something more akin to Hungry Hungry Hippos. If Mueller’s strategy is tricky to grasp due to its complexity, Trump’s strategy can be difficult to read due to its sheer frantic erraticism. It all raises the question of whose side Reince Priebus was on when he made some startling claims this weekend on the morning talk show circuit.


Priebus is now making a point of insisting that he never witnessed Trump even coming close to trying to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. This is despite the fact that Priebus was on the job through the end of July, and it’s been reported that Trump ordered White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller at some point in July. McGahn discussed that matter with Priebus, and McGahn then decided to threaten to resign if Trump tried to force him to go through with it.


So why on earth is Priebus now suddenly claiming that none of that happened? It gets even stranger when you consider the prior reporting that Priebus months ago turned over his own personal notes about Trump’s various attempts at obstruction of justice to Mueller. Throw in the fact that the McGahn story was almost certainly leaked by McGahn himself, and it makes even less sense. When you consider that Priebus and McGahn are using the same attorney in the Russia investigation, by legal definition they have to be taking the same position.


When you consider that Reince Priebus made a point of documenting Donald Trump’s obstruction and then gave those notes to Robert Mueller, and that Don McGahn is trying to make sure he’s portrayed as the hero who stopped Trump, and that the two of them are legally bound to the same defense strategy, it’s still a safe bet that they’ve both flipped. Our best guess is that Trump called up Priebus and asked him to go on TV this weekend and say there was no obstruction, and that Mueller gave Priebus the go-ahead to do it, so that Trump doesn’t shut out Priebus going forward. But this is getting more complex by the hour.


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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report

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