Even as Donald Trump was illegally coercing former White House Counsel Don McGahn into failing to show up and testify this week, Trump’s former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson showed up and testified to the House in secret. Neither Trump nor the public knew it was happening until it was finished. Now Trump is, predictably, throwing a tantrum about Tillerson – but he’s given away something important in the process.
It’s not difficult to figure out how Donald Trump was able to coerce Don McGahn into essentially becoming a fugitive from the law. Trump not too subtly threatened to steer millions of dollars in Republican Party business away from McGahn’s law firm. Everyone has a vulnerability to be exploited, right? Trump found McGahn’s. But apparently not everyone can be so easily manipulated. Rex Tillerson just testified against Trump, and when it came to retaliation, the worst that Trump could come up with was a mean tweet.
The point is, Trump clearly doesn’t have leverage over all of his former people. We don’t know what he does or doesn’t have hanging over the heads of the most recently subpoenaed witnesses, Hope Hicks and McGahn’s former deputy Annie Donaldson. We’ll find out soon. But even with his maniacally evil plotting, Trump won’t be able to stop all of them from testifying. In fact, when it comes to the most cooperative witnesses like Tillerson, who aren’t going to blab to the media in advance that they’ve been asked to testify, Trump won’t even know it’s happening until it’s too late to do anything about it.
We’re seeing a similar pattern play out in Donald Trump’s legal battles over the evidence against him. Even as he’s incrementally losing his court battles to prevent Deutsche Bank, Capital One, and Mazars from turning over his financial records to the House, yesterday NBC revealed that Wells Fargo and TD Bank have already finished turning over Trump’s financial records. He couldn’t try to stop it, because he didn’t know about it.
As Palmer Report spelled out weeks ago, Donald Trump is now playing defense on all sides when it comes to his battles against House Democrats. They don’t have to break through Trump’s defenses on all of those fronts, just some of them. That’s already happening. And when it comes to the battles that Trump is losing, like the Tillerson testimony, it turns out all he can do is whine.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report