In the day and a half since Donald Trump learned through the media that White House Counsel Don McGahn has been selling him out to Special Counsel Robert Mueller for the past ten months, Trump has repeatedly insisted that he encouraged McGahn to do so. No one believes this, of course, and Trump’s hesitance to attack or fire McGahn suggests that Trump is truly afraid of him. Now it turns out that not only did Trump not know what McGahn was doing, Trump’s own lawyers didn’t know what hit them either.
Donald Trump’s criminal defense team at the time, which was led by John Dowd and Ty Cobb until he resigned earlier this year, never bothered to even try to find out what Don McGahn was giving to Robert Mueller. This is remarkable, considering that in the general timeframe of December 2017 to January of 2018, there were various major media reports that Mueller had obtained this or that piece of evidence that had to have passed through McGahn’s hands. That’s stunning.
In partial defense of these lawyers, Palmer Report was the only news outlet to connect the publicly available dots at the time and report that Don McGahn was indeed very clearly giving away the farm to Mueller, and it’s not as if Trump’s lawyers were could have been expect to sit around reading Palmer Report. But we’re left to wonder what they were doing with their time, because the New York Times now paints them as not even having tried to do the basics of what would have been considered keeping tabs or due diligence.
There have been numerous major media reports over the past year that have made clear that Donald Trump didn’t understand (or didn’t care) that the White House Counsel was not his attorney, and that they enjoyed no attorney-client privilege. Not only did Trump tell his dirty obstruction secrets to McGahn, he then waived executive privilege with McGahn, suggesting that perhaps Trump doesn’t truly understand what that is; after all, he still doesn’t understand what obstruction of justice is. But how could his lawyers have been this asleep at the wheel? Doesn’t Trump only hire the best people?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report