Looks like Donald Trump was watching the wrong TV channel

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Even as the likes of White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his top deputy have been testifying to the grand jury in the DOJ criminal investigation into Donald Trump, they’ve reportedly invoked executive privilege in response to some questions. It’s also being reported that the DOJ is looking to get the courts to rule that executive privilege does not apply, due to the criminal nature of the discussions.

Given the clear precedent, the DOJ will almost certainly win this court battle. What’s remarkable is that Trump didn’t seem to understand that he didn’t really have privilege with Cipollone. Executive privilege was never going to hold up in criminal matters, and the President doesn’t have attorney-client privilege with the White House Counsel to begin with.

If Trump had ever even so much as watched The West Wing, he’d have known this. Yes, it depicted a fictional and oversimplified version of a presidential administration. But it got most of the basic premises right. There was a scene where the White House Counsel depicted by Oliver Platt smashed his voice recorder with a gavel after the President walked in and confessed to a potential crime. The TV show made the concept simple enough that even Trump could have understood it. They used props and everything.


We saw endless reports that Donald Trump spent the bulk of his time in the White House lying in bed watching Fox News. It looks like he was watching the wrong channel. If he’d been watching The West Wing instead, he might have at least had a baseline understanding of how things worked – and he might not have stupidly presumed he had broader privilege with the White House Counsel than he really did. Now it’s coming back to bite him.

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