Donald Trump’s Bubble May Be Robert Mueller’s Greatest Weapon

Robert Mueller has a slew of really good lawyers working for him. But I think his biggest asset is Donald Trump’s bubble.

Consider this NYT story, in which a bunch of lawyers anonymously blame each other for getting 16 months into the Special Counsel investigation without ever figuring out what the President did.

The lawyers have only a limited sense of what many witnesses — including senior administration officials and the president’s business associates — have told investigators and what the Justice Department plans to do with any incriminating information it has about Mr. Trump, according to interviews with more than a dozen people close to the president.

What is more, it is not clear if Mr. Trump has given his lawyers a full account of some key events in which he has been involved as president or during his decades running the Trump Organization.


Mr. Dowd took Mr. Trump at his word that he had done nothing wrong and never conducted a full internal investigation to determine the president’s true legal exposure.


And once Mr. Dowd was gone, the new legal team had to spend at least 20 hours interviewing the president about the episodes under investigation, another necessary step Mr. Dowd and his associates had apparently not completed.

In spite of the effort to blame all this on Dowd, the NYT article provides abundant evidence (which they, in typical Maggie and Mike fashion, don’t seem aware of) that Trump’s lawyers continue to be clueless.

There’s the notion that just 20 hours of Trump interviews would be sufficient for nailing down the actual story. Don McGahn, after all, has had 30 hours of interviews with Mueller’s team, and while he has played several central roles, he’s not the principal. And, unlike Trump, he can and presumably did tell a mostly consistent story.

There’s the admission that Trump’s lawyers actually don’t know how ten senior officials testified.

During Mr. Dowd’s tenure, prosecutors interviewed at least 10 senior administration officials without Mr. Trump’s lawyers first learning what the witnesses planned to say, or debriefing their lawyers afterward — a basic step that could have given the president’s lawyers a view into what Mr. Mueller had learned.

Complain all you want that Dowd didn’t obstruct competently. But the Joint Defense Agreement (the one that gave Rudy no advance warning that Paul Manafort had flipped on the President) is what Rudy has always pointed to to justify his confidence that Trump is not at any risk. So Rudy is, by the standards of the anonymous people leaking to Maggie and Mike, just as incompetent.

Perhaps best of all is the claim of an anonymous Maggie and Mike source that poor Jay Sekulow was left to clean up after Dowd’s, and only Dowd’s, mistakes.

In March, Mr. Dowd resigned, telling associates that he disagreed with the president’s desire to sit for an interview with Mr. Mueller — one form of cooperation he opposed — and leaving Mr. Sekulow with the task of rebuilding the legal team from scratch, and without knowing many of the details of the case. Mr. Dowd left few notes or files about the case, which had to be recreated months after the fact.

Somehow, Ty Cobb, the guy brought in after Marc Kasowitz left amid concerns that Trump was obstructing justice, who oversaw responding to discovery requests and who was initially celebrated as being very aggressive, gets no blame. Cobb was the guy who put McGahn in a defensive crouch — leading directly to 20 of his 30 hours of testimony — after blabbing in public about him hiding documents.

Crazier still, Jay Sekulow gets no blame in this narrative, even though Sekulow was around during all of Dowd’s purportedly mistaken decisions. As recently as March, Sekulow was quite confident that his undeniable expertise in litigating the right wing’s ressentiment prepared him to deal with the challenges of a Special Counsel investigation.

When Jay Sekulow joined President Donald Trump’s legal team for the Russia investigation last summer, he was largely expected to serve as the public face of the group. But after former lead attorney John Dowd resigned last week, and with other top lawyers reportedly reluctant to join the team, Sekulow is now the key player in one of the most high-stakes investigations in the world.

“I have maintained since the beginning of the representation that my interest is representing the client,” Sekulow tells TIME. “And it may take different forms at different times, and we’re just right now in a different phase.”


Peter Flaherty, who worked for Romney on both campaigns and has known Sekulow for more than a decade, offers effusive praise for Sekulow that draws on the world of Boston sports.

“Jay is a combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, wrapped into one super-lawyer,” Flaherty says, citing the New England Patriots’ coach and quarterback. “He is capable of both devising successful strategy in a conference room, as well as being able to execute it in a courtroom.”

Critics say that legal expertise in high-minded constitutional issues won’t translate well to the guts of a criminal case. But Sekulow says he feels his “broad background” in the law has prepared him for the current challenge, citing a recent case he worked on in which the IRS admitted to unfairly scrutinizing tax forms of conservative groups.

In the wake of Manafort’s plea deal, Sekulow seems less certain he’s got control of the situation.

Here’s the thing though. This is a 2,100-word story presented as truth, disclosing evidence (albeit unacknowledged) that the lawyers who have serially managed press outreach (Sekulow, then Rudy) are clueless. It repeats, as Maggie and Mike always do, two key threads of the spin from these men: that Trump’s only exposure is obstruction and that the end result will be a report.

[Manafort’s] plea brings to four the number of former close associates of Mr. Trump who have agreed to cooperate with Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the election and obstruction of justice by the president.

And while Mr. Trump’s lawyers insist Mr. Mueller has nothing on their client about colluding with Russia, they are bracing for him to write a damaging report to Congress about whether the president obstructed justice.


The sense of unease among the president’s lawyers can be traced, in part, to their client. Mr. Trump has repeatedly undermined his position by posting on Twitter or taking other actions that could add to the obstruction case against him.


Even after Mr. Mueller’s appointment, Mr. Trump did things like ask witnesses about what they told Mr. Mueller’s investigators and put out misleading statements about contacts between his campaign and Russia, which appear to have deepened the special counsel’s examination of possible obstruction.

A mere review of Jay Sekulow’s own list, drafted in March, of questions Mueller might ask Trump, should make it clear to anyone exercising a tiny degree of skepticism that the claim Mueller is exclusively focused on obstruction is utter nonsense. And after the speaking criminal information released with Manafort’s plea, the expectation of a report should be treated far more critically.

But it’s not.

In an article about how Trump’s lawyers, generally, are clueless, and demonstrating though not reporting that the lawyers providing information to the press are part of that general cluelessness, Maggie and Mike don’t pause to reflect on whether that leaves them, too, clueless.

So when Trump tries to understand his plight by reading Maggie and Mike, he would believe a fiction largely created by the lies he has already told his lawyers and his preference for PR rather than solid legal advice.

Of course, it gets worse from there. Trump has benefitted from nine months of Devin Nunes-led intelligence, fed both via staffers and through a stable of incompetent right wing stenographers, about the investigation. I know for a fact that the most competent Republicans who have read the most investigative documents do not have a grasp about either the scope of the investigation or how it evolved (though someone at least understands that after August 1, 2017, the investigation got far more risky for the President).

But when you take that misunderstanding about the investigation and launder it through incompetent hacks like John Solomon, then the picture it provides is even more misleading.

Which led us to Trump’s decision on Monday to declassify a bunch of stuff.

That led Mark Warner, who has a better though still incomplete understanding of the potential risk to Trump, to quip, “Be careful what you wish for,” suggesting that the documents might be very incriminating to Trump.

Batshit crazier still, Trump went on to do an interview with the aforementioned John Solomon. (The Hill, unlike the NYT and virtually all other outlets, has the dignity to label interviews where Trump tells reporters a bunch of bullshit “opinion.”) In it, Trump suggests he had the authority and should have fired Jim Comey they day he won the primaries (an interesting suggestion by itself as Mueller appears to be investigating Roger Stone’s activities from that time period), which would likely have resulted in a Hillary win.

“If I did one mistake with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here. I should have fired him the day I won the primaries,” Trump said. “I should have fired him right after the convention, say I don’t want that guy. Or at least fired him the first day on the job. … I would have been better off firing him or putting out a statement that I don’t want him there when I get there.”

Crazier still, Trump admits that he has no idea what is included in the vast swath of documents he has already ordered to be released.

Trump said he had not read the documents he ordered declassified but said he expected to show they would prove the FBI case started as a political “hoax.”

“I have had many people ask me to release them. Not that I didn’t like the idea but I wanted to wait, I wanted to see where it was all going,” he said.

In the end, he said, his goal was to let the public decide by seeing the documents that have been kept secret for more than two years. “All I want to do is be transparent,” he said.

As I’ve noted here and elsewhere, even careful readers, to say nothing of the frothy right, have little visibility on how this investigation evolved (even the tiny bit more visibility I have makes me aware of how much I don’t know). If the smartest Republican upstream of Trump’s concerns about the genesis of the investigation doesn’t understand it, then far stupider Congressmen like Mark Meadows, who hasn’t reviewed all the documents, is surely misrepresenting it.

And yet Trump, from within the bubble of sycophants, clueless lawyers, and credulous reporters is blindly taking action in the hope of undercutting the pardon-proof plea deal of his campaign manager.

Update: Thanks to those who corrected my error in the bracketed description of the fourth plea.

As I disclosed in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

124 replies
  1. Kevin says:

    This declassification thing seems like the greatest test so far of the connection between the President and the powers of the presidency (considering Wray and Rosenstein supposedly called it a ‘red line’). I’m interested to see how much stuff actually gets released, or if there are ultimately redactions and the WH comes up with an explanation for why it’s what he asked for all along.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      As I said in an earlier thread, this is still one of the areas where “do it now” can be parsed by the bureaucracy as “start a multi-stage doing process” — which is what Mattis seems to have been able to get away with at the Pentagon. The question is the extent to which King Idiot will either start trying to circumvent those processes where presidential powers are more concentrated, as with pardons, and/or focus on actions that don’t really have a process, like firings.

      For the moment everyone benefits from his limited attention span and brain worms in different ways. Maggie and Mike get to write long articles showing their unsurpassed access-driven understanding of the legal team’s ignorance; Byron&Chuck&Kimberley&John&Sara&c. get to pipe pigshit into the river of news every day; the FBI and spooks buy a little more time before a confrontation.

      This is unsustainable.

      • orionATL says:

        “brain worms” indeed.

        i know a physician who is confident that prez has dementia, based on his speech patterns.

        • KYogi says:

          Trump & Co need to be held responsible at all costs.  I personally believe Omarosa’s goal is to cement the narrative that his mental facilities have eroded to the point he is not liable for his decisions.  It is tactic to avoid accountability.  Trump needs to be held accountable.

          • Rayne says:

            WRT avoidance of accountability: I don’t think Omarosa is capable of thinking that strategically. Her intent was likely to benefit her more than him, and not only in terms of a payout from her book. If Trump isn’t stable then anything he or his staff says about her is suspect. She also makes the case for 25th Amendment if GOP wants to bail themselves out and salvage their party but alas, they are both as corrupt and irrational as Trump is.

      • SteveB says:

        The incoherence of the ‘declassification’ strategy is, as you’ve pointed out, apparent on its face. But it also cuts accross what might have appeared to team Trump to have been a last ditch defense option. Contrary to what is coherently and consistently argued on this blog – that Mueller speaks in indictments and the final outcome is not going to be a report – many in MSM and team Trump appear to believe that a report will be the outcome.
        Recently at there have been a series of articles discussing RudyG suggestion that presidential privilege could be used to stymie any such report; but the latest in the sequence has argued that the President’s power to classify information would be a more potent weapon.

        It is an interesting read, whether or not one accepts the premise that a report is the expected or likely outcome.

        Declassifying (albeit partially, and partisanly) documents in purported excercise of transparency to expose the ‘illicit’ foundation of the ‘Russia WitchHunt’ would make any future excercise of presidential privilege or classification power seem all the more self serving. But I suppose the only element of consistency and coherence in team Trump’s approach to everything is to do what he believes serves him best at any given moment.

      • Kevin says:

        Good point. Though if the axe is going to fall immediately post-election, it seems unlikely Trump would be willing to wait that long before he started getting demanding. There is probably a lot of huddling going on at DOJ and FBI right now. Interesting to see how they handle it…

      • Anon says:

        This is just armchair theorizing but It would also depend on the extent to which he really wants it “done now.”

        Consider those “privately circulated” lists of potential Dem investigations and the “off the cuff” remarks by various Republicans about just how hard Democrats will make things for Trump if they win. These things have been cropping up so much I have begun to wonder if this is not just an attempt to whip the base by exploiting their, still real, love for Trump.

        In this case by promising “transparency” by ordering a release that is then slow walked feeds into the Deep State narrative by showing Trump doing something dramatic and then slowly fighting the evil spooks all the way through the midterms. In that sense he might win most if they release nothing at all.

    • Jeff Chapman says:

      Just like the first Nunes Memo, this group of infantile minded people in the house have pushed this deep state theory and will selectively collect bits and pieces to construct their narrative. They ultimately will fail, but one wonders if they are steering to believe the story they are trying to create, or are just so psychopathic as to do anything to protect their power.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t Meadows, Jordan and their gang the rubes that wanted to pass a bill that effectively made anything passed out of the house a law without any senate or presidential action?

    • Kevin says:

      Since his lawyers believe obstruction is his main threat and let him keeping tweeting about the investigation and declassifying texts/FISA stuff, it seems like that whole crew could be led into prison by following a trail of breadcrumbs at this point.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A teacup of sanity in a storm of Trump propaganda.  Thank you.  But no thanks to the New York Times’ stenographers.

    Where to begin?  Trump’s lawyers are incompetent or they would not work for him.   He is possibly the world’s worst client, barring his sons.  He is unable to hear what they say, and follows none of their advice.  And that’s being generous that they are giving it.

    The Times’s preferred view that the lawyers don’t know seems rather like characterizing Mark Judge’s refusal to testify before Congress to being publicity shy.  He’s written a book about his underage drinking and carousing, which suggests that he’s more shy of testifying where he will be criminally liable for lying.

    Trump’s lawyers probably know more than they’re letting on.  They can read into Trump’s statements and documents as well as mere observers.  They might well not want to know more.

    If so, that would be reckless disregard for their client’s interests, not incompetence or negligence.  It would be protecting themselves – ignorance is less incriminating than actual knowledge – at their client’s expense.  All in, they appear as corrupt as their client. Then, too, they are as out of their depth as their client.

    • Peterr says:

      I don’t know what to think of Trump’s lawyers with this from the Times:

      And while Mr. Trump’s lawyers insist Mr. Mueller has nothing on their client about colluding with Russia, they are bracing for him to write a damaging report to Congress about whether the president obstructed justice.

      Yes, this could be Sekulow et al. trying to spin Maggie and Mike about the “no collusion!” line preferred by Trump.

      But it could also be that they have given up trying to tell Trump “You could get caught in the collusion part of this investigation, even as an unindicted co-conspirator,” because every time they try to go there, Trump simply starts shouting and shuts down the meeting. And if he’s like that in private, God knows what he’d do if they should say anything close to this in public.

      The former interpretation says the Trump legal team is crafty and trying to play the refs and the media. The latter says they’ve given up hope of getting their client to face the reality of their client’s position, and are just trying to survive until the final buzzer sounds.

      Put me down with them being hopeless.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      And yet “ascertain the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts” still mostly holds.

      I harp on about this, but McGahn’s uncle was the NJ casino lawyer who made sure to have a colleague in the room when talking with King Idiot. So we end up back with epistemology: what does “know” mean in these contexts, especially when dealing with a fucking liar? It’s an ironic mirror of the Steele situation.

      • bmaz says:

        And yet “ascertain the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts” still mostly holds.

        Always a sound bet!

      • Trip says:

        @pseudonymous in nc, this may not be news to you, but I never knew that Trump sued “Paddy” McGahn, which makes the Don McGahn connection with Trump, early in the campaign, even stranger.

        Trump sues former lawyer Patrick “Paddy” McGahn
        October 6, 1995
        The suit against McGahn, once one of the area’s most prominent and flamboyant attorneys, was filed Sept. 25 in Atlantic City following an audit of legal bills at Trump Castle, Trump Plaza and Taj Mahal between 1989 and 1991…The suit was actually filed by Trump’s Plaza Associates, Trump’s Castle Associates and Trump’s Taj Mahal Associates. It alleges that McGahn “misbilled and grossly exaggerated” the amount of legal work he did for the three casino properties…Meanwhile, McGahn said Wednesday he was puzzled by the lawsuit because he said settlements were reached two years ago in both federal bankruptcy court and state court concerning his billings.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Even these lawyers have the problem of playing to a single shitty client who nevertheless has tremendous power.  All their public statements – and admissions of knowledge – would be designed for his curious consumption.

      Trump eats the oddest foods: he likes the taste, but it will be doing bad things to his innards.  He expects the same curious concoction of unrealistic expectations of fact and legal strategy from his lawyers.  They must reflect his constipated, fun house mirror view of the world and the threats to him in it.

      It is a nightmare, impossible to do right, because reality could burst its way through every crevice, which then requires adding another room to the crazy mansion of his mind.  One reason no competent lawyer would touch Trump.  The building is falling round him and he thinks it’s the world that’s tipping over instead of him.

    • Andy says:

      Emmett Flood is no hack, but he is there only because he knows this all leads to impeachment. He wants to be a part of another impeachment case and this will be the biggest challenge of his career.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Emmet Flood does not work for the Don, he works for the WH.

        What competent lawyer would mistake the two, and think that working for one meant that he had a confidential client relationship with the other?

      • Frank Probst says:

        I’m not at all convinced that all roads lead to impeachment, though.  As EW has noted, Mueller speaks through indictments, not reports.  If ConFraudUS goes up to Trump, then Don Jr and Jared are likely to be indicted.  Trump himself may or may not be listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.  Either way, those will be speaking indictments, just like all the other ones.  I don’t see that happening until some time in 2019, at the earliest.  At that point, the Dems could “wait until Mueller is finished”, meaning Don Jr and Jared have to be all tied up with a bow.  By then, Trump is going to be badly wounded politically, and a badly wounded Trump is preferable to a seemingly “clean” Mike Pence as an opponent in 2020.

  3. Dedalus says:

    In defense of Trump’s “clueless lawyers,” those of us who’ve had the horror of representing severely ADD clients have found that the ADD client says whatever pops into their head at the time of the question, which can be quite different than when the same question was asked one week earlier. As such, it is nigh impossible to properly prepare a case, whether one spends 30 hours or 60 hours or 100 hours with the client. That is the case even if the client is a basically honest person, which Trump is not. Compound Trump’s severe ADD with his habitually spouting whatever lie pops into his head at the time of the question, then add his abject stupidity, and it is completely impossible for any group of attorneys to properly prepare his defense.

    • Webstir says:

      I never ask my clients to tell me the truth. I ask them to tell me their story. When they’re done, I ask them to tell me the lies the other side is going to tell about them.

      That usually gets me in the ballpark of the truth.

  4. Ollie says:

    “And yet Trump, from within the bubble of sycophants, clueless lawyers, and credulous reporters is blindly taking action in the hope of undercutting the pardon-proof plea deal of his campaign manager.”
    How? I read and all of your journalism EW. How does Trump declassifying all this stuff undermine the ‘ (or we charge you w/EVERYTHING we found)’ deal Mueller’s given Manafort’? Also? If I remember correctly, wasn’t Dunes found scurrying to the new president w.juicy info PRIOR to his releasing it to his own committee members? Trump might not have read everything but I don’t figure Nunes stopped filling the pres in the whole time. My heads gonna explode, lol. Gosh, the simpler days of playing kick the can in the orange groves on a summer day……..

    Your journalism is exceptional.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Declassifying intimate details of an ongoing investigation, some of it from intelligence sources, seems to be straightforward obstruction, in the way that pardoning Manafort would be: The exercise of a lawful power for corrupt purposes.

    It is an awful precedent.  It discloses information the president most wants his lawyers to see so that they can, Trump hopes, prepare a better defense.  It is also potentially disclosing information, sources, and methods to the Russians.

    The obvious recourse would be for congressional leaders to put practical pressure on Trump to change his mind.  The options for horse trading are many; it’s the sort of thing LBJ in the Senate was a master at doing.

    That has no chance of success unless those leaders threaten Trump with meaningful practical consequences.  This GOP leadership would rather geld themselves than restrict the man-god Donald Trump.  They would do that rather than interfere with implementing the neoliberal agenda while the man-child Trump plays with his toys.  Voters should take special note of that priority.

  6. Dedalus says:

    Nunes revealed the real reason for the declassification: To dig up some ammo for the fall campaign, to rile up the tin foil hats to get out and vote.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I think you’re right, but this is obviously a dumb idea.

      Trump’s bubble reflects back at him he idea that his base is thinking about Mueller. What they care about is building a wall, opening coal mines, sending Kaepernick to jail.

      The more time he whines about Comey and Mueller, the more he distracts from issues that might actually drum up some votes.

  7. JIm Whelan says:

    Thanks for this interesting post. Some errors you may want to correct:
    “Somehow, Ty Cobb, the guy brought in after Marc Kasowitz left amid concerns that Trump was obstructing justice, who oversaw responding to discovery requests and who was initially celebrated as being very aggressive.” This is not a sentence, and I’d be interested in what your complete thought was.
    “[Trump’s] plea brings to four the number of former close associates of Mr. Trump…” The parenthetical is surely wrong. Manafort?
    “And after the speaking criminal information released with Manafort’s plea,…” There has to be some mistake here.

    • bmaz says:

      “And after the speaking criminal information released with Manafort’s plea,…” There has to be some mistake here.

      What is the error of that? The superseding criminal information was lodged contemporaneously with the plea letter.

  8. SAO says:

    Trump thinks that by declassifying materials, the right-wing media will find plenty more Peter Sztroks. He also thinks if he can discredit the reason for starting the investigation, he can discredit the investigation itself, which is unlikely, given the number of indictments, guilty pleas, and evidence Mueller has amassed.

    Or perhaps, he thinks by letting everyone see what existed a year ago, he can argue that there wasn’t much evidence that couldn’t be called a coincidence letting his supporters focus on that, not on all the indictments, guilty pleas, and evidence Mueller has piled up since then.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump lamenting that he did not fire Comey when Trump was only a candidate for office, not president, should be enough to scare the pants off congressional leadership.

    As they say, ignorance is curable, stupidity is terminal. That the idea is absurd is obvious. But it is not a consequence of ignorance or inexperience, but of Trump’s megalomania. This is not a man fit to be president, or to be head of any organization.

    • Geoff says:

      Ha, ok, I wasn’t the only one stumped by how ridiculous this was when reading it. I kept going back and rereading it, thinking, wait, he doesn’t think he could have actually DONE that then, does he? And then I realized, um, wow, he might actually think that. The guy is really out of his mind at this point. Or just gone full megalomaniac.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Something that the Woodward and Omarosa books covered is the extent to King Idiot lives in a kind of ongoing accumulated present, so things that he considers possible now must have been possible in the past, and things that happened in the past are still happening now. Hence the fixation on the campaign and the crowds and the electoral college vote and whatever investigations were done in 2016, because to him they are part of the now.

        He’s unfit.

        • Trip says:

          And yet the GOP is “concerned” about Dr. Ford’s mental stability and memory. Meanwhile, they have consistently blown off any consideration of Trump’s mental health, in spite of administration insiders setting off the panic button.

        • marksb says:

          The thing about narcissists is they run their lives like a movie that’s “based on a story”; they use a generalized screengrab of reality and then spin their own reality from there. Of course we all do that to some extent, but a narcissist’s alternate reality ignores the laws of physics or man. If they’re really deep they can run more than one reality at a time–and believe all of them at once–and sometimes time becomes flexible in these multiple realities. I worked with/for a guy who was very deep into his narcissism and it was both fascinating and terrifying. Everything he said had to be checked for lies and reality-shifts. Add age-related dementia to the equation and, well, here we are.

      • BroD says:

        Funny–you can see when his lizard brain caught up with his mouth.

        Just the sort of guy you want involved in head-of-state to head-of–state diplomacy.

  10. nobodynobody says:

    The reason Trump’s lawyers look like they do is because of who their client is and how he interacts with them. Supposedly nine law firms turned Trump down to represent him in this matter. What kind of attorney or law firm do you think is going to say yes to representing someone like Trump, a client nightmare who has a long history of not paying his bills, a history of blaming everyone around him for everything, who contradicts himself in an easily provable way on a DAILY basis, who can’t be influenced by the attorney to STFU, who doesn’t engage in good faith with *their own* attorneys, who thinks anyone who tells him things he doesn’t like is his enemy? Who wants that mess? Nobody with a reputation to lose, that’s who, which is just about every good and average attorney in the U.S.

    Personally, idk how you can pay someone up to several hundred dollars an hour and not treat their word as gold and hang on every word they say while you’re paying them. There better be no small talk, lol!

    But i blame their client for Trump’s lawyers looking incompetent. He’s a mess and a half and no lawyer is going to be able to clean that up, heh. i’m sure every day for them is the scene like out of the American Dad episode where Stan says, “Every time i answer the dad phone, i’m like, damn it, damn it, damn it.” Totally 100 percent could see Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Sekulow doing that EVERY DAY with Trump.

    • TheraP says:

      That person would be stumped who, even if trained in Law, Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, had a client like Trump. He’d drive anyone crazy. Picture trying to have even a meeting. Your client has 2 or 3 tv’s going. And he’s alternately boasting, whining and erupting – on topics that seem completely unrelated to the “purpose” of the meeting.

      Any Times reporter who thinks they could write a straight story about any of it is whistling in the dark. Or barking at the moon.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Your observation seems to be more correct than the NYT can stomach: Bob Mueller speaks in indictments, not reports.

    But that means it is misreporting events of national importance.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I think you’re right, but this is obviously a dumb idea.

      Trump’s bubble reflects back at him he idea that his base is thinking about Mueller. What they care about is building a wall, opening coal mines, sending Kaepernick to jail.

      The more time he whines about Comey and Mueller, the more he distracts from issues that might actually drum up some votes.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        Sorry EoH – I was replying to  different post upstream and I think a wifi glitch led it to be threaded here. No implication you’re saying anything dumb….

  12. Geoff says:

    What if we somehow give M&M the the benefit of the doubt — is it possible they aren’t as clueless as they seem, but instead, are just playing their part in making sure the “failing NYTimes” when read by the naked emperor and others, is interpreted as telling the story that obstruction is the investigation focus? Sure, Trump knows he is guilty of all sorts of malfeasance for decades, and he is probably worried that this information is finding its way into the investigation, but it seems to me he is being intentionally misled into thinking that he just has to worry about the firing Comey thing, and all the stuff surrounding the obstruction, which keeps him from focusing on what is really going to bite him in the ass, which is not a report, but a series of indictments leading right to his doorstep.

    With Stone likely next in the barrel, we aren’t far away from Don Jr. That’s when DT will blow his top, for sure. First they have to tie down the money trail from the June 9 meeting, through Kavelazde’s various shell accounts, and they have to make the link to Cambridge explicit through Stone, probably. There is a ways to go, but knowing that Manafort is cooperating now, must be freaking DT out, given what he knows about that meeting. So I feel we aren’t too far away, and in the meantime, we have to keep making progress on indicting the relevant players linked to the payoffs for that quid pro quo in the meeting, so as to make a solid conspiracy case. But meanwhile, we have to have a shiny thing dangling in front of DT, to keep him focused on obstruction, so he doesn’t get too pissed and find a way to shut the whole thing down.

    Of course, IANAL, and apologize in advance for any of my own cluelessness. But seriously, how can M&M someone NOT get what is going on here? I just feel like they have to be intentionally misleading the paper of record’s storyline. This has been going on way too long to not get it.

    • marksb says:

      Well it’s a nice idea, along the lines of my recurring thought that lil’ Jeffy Sessions is actually cooperating with the SC to avoid his own indictment(s) by quietly protecting Mueller and Rosenstein and the SC office.

      Then he goes and pulls another stupid, racist, anti-immigrant stunt and I think, nah.

    • William Bennett says:

      I suspect you’re right that M/M are probably aware of what can be read between the lines, but with the POTUS in the narrative it’s going to take something tectonic to crack the framing. That’s always the last thing to go, being sustained by all manner of pressures and constraints that are independent of the facts the frame is being used to contain. In some ways it’s a useful gauge of where things stand in terms of the overall narrative, of which the corporate media are still the gatekeepers. The cracks are starting to show, but we’re not there yet. They aren’t going to let it go until it’s very VERY safe for them to do so. And then they’ll act like they were the first to figure it out, which is laughable, but all part of how the discourse is structured.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        I think a lot of it is due to M & M being in a bubble of their own.

        They pretty clearly don’t have a strong editorial structure above them.Nobody is telling them to entertain different premises or ask a different set of questions, and there aren’t other reporters writing stories at the Times that challenge their narrative.

        Pretty clearly they’re seen in house as untouchable and uninfringeable, and that’s a dangerous way for a media outlet to operate – time after time, it’s blown up in the outlet’s face, either when the reporters fabricate or a source takes advantage of them,

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Yeah, @MaggieNYT (in between picking twitterfights) has a habit of dropping in some Ron Howard narrator voice on things she knows from her access, which ties in with the idea that she Knows Things that will come out when the book is published, but the framing of White House reporting is seen as sacrosanct, where conveying what the voices in the room say matters over whether they correspond to the facts outside the room. Which makes it increasingly an echo chamber.

  13. SteveB says:

    What struck me about the NYT piece was the extent to which it represents a sense of impending doom and a panic response by ‘the source’ belatedly recognising what a well organised defence ought to have marshalled, and now desparate to avoid blame being cast in their direction.

    EW points about the visibility of the breadth depth reach and danger of the probe being obscured to TeamTrump are significant ones. Obviously first up is the skill and discipline of the investigation. The feed back loop of incomptence , wishful thinking and flawed analysis, between Team Trump, their overt supporters in the media and access journalism has created a fog engulfing Team Trump; which has served to obscure Mueller’s threats from those who needed to be most clear sighted and clinical in their dealings with him – this is the epitome of Trumpian hubris: they have blinded themselves with their own bullshit in word and deed, and so reduced Mueller’s visibilty to themseves. Marvellous how the only rules Team Trump obey are the dictates of classical tragedy.

  14. Avattoir says:

    Reading this put such a smile of smug on my pug, I feel the next shoe might carry an accusation of followship in some mutiny of deviated preverts.

    And now you’re gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company Grey Lady palace intrigue.

  15. David M says:

    > “I should have fired [Comey] the day I won the primaries,” Trump said

    I feel that this remark has not been dunked on nearly enough.

  16. klynn says:

    Meanwhile outside his bubble…
    Interesting timing on the Danske Bank’s Borgen stepping down. Wonder what info PM gave to the previous info from Browder on $ laundering.

    Maybe po-tusDT’s Estonian E-Residency makes sense now?

  17. Dan says:

    Appears that some words were dropped from the end of the “Somehow, Ty Cobb” sentence.

    Thanks for the consistently great reporting and analysis.

  18. JAAG says:

    After reading Woodard’s book I was left wondering how the hell Dowd could speak as much as he did about a former client. There are rules about the ongoing duty of confidentiality. Who in Washington would want to hire the sieve that provides Woodard with about 5-10 full chapters of narrative and leaks like a sieve at the steakhouse? He provided about half of the useful material in the Woodward book.  Yet, he still talks.

    People have been taking the last sentence of the book, in which Dowd calls Trump a “fucking liar”, and taking it to mean that he shouldn’t testify.  It can be read more broadly, I think. Dowd makes the case to Woodward that Trump didn’t do much and didn’t have much exposure for most of the book and then it ends with the notion that the lawyer really cannot believe his client.   I wonder if Dowd provided Woodward with material so that Dowd could state openly that Trump was full of shit in order to preserve his reputation.  Dowd’s cooperation with Mueller was obviously premised on his belief that Trump had told him all that he needed to know. Dowd seems to no longer believe this and had to cooperate with Woodward. Its amazing to me that a lawyer would do this to a former client and its odd that the press doesn’t really mention much about how Dowd burned Trump and what the implications of that are.

      • Kick the darkness says:

        That’s good.  For some reason with Dowd I thought of Tristram Shandy, but Pale Fire is probably better.

        “The moon’s an arrant thief, / And her pale fire she snatches from the sun”

  19. SteveB says:

    “[Trump’s] plea brings to four the number of former close associates of Mr. Trump who have agreed to cooperate with Robert S. Mueller III, the..”


  20. Edward says:

    Thanks for the post. On the one hand, it is somewhat heartening to see how Trump and his flunkies’ magic brew of malevolence and stupidity have blinded them to what, more and more, seems to be coming from the Mueller investigation and its focus on Russian collusion.

    On the other hand, there’s a reason why Orwell coined the slogan “Ignorance is Strength.” The only question now is what percentage of the GOP, its base and our governing institutions will have enough non-lizard brain function left to understand the choice they face between Trump and loyalty to Country when it all goes down. The Democrats better have at least one house of Congress after Novemeber.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for your comment and welcome back to emptywheel. Please note you have two usernames here; stick to one so community members get to know you. Thanks again.

    • arbusto says:

      While I’m sure there’s tremendous anger and feelings of impotence in Democrats rank and file, how much of it will translate into action, should the Dems take the House and Senate, is another question.  Leadership can stymie future investigations as well as Ryan or McConnell if it’s not in their calculated interest.

  21. TheraP says:

    The Trump Bubble:  Bubble Boy has no capacity for insight.  Let’s start there.

    When most of us consider the Mueller Investigation (and all its tributaries) we take into account its central figure, Trump, including his character, his mental difficiencies/quirks/you name it, his past history of sociopathic behavior, his cronies in crime, and so on.  So we see that investigation as legitimately needing to look way, way back in terms of the genesis of all of that’s happened during his campaign, the election and all the tentacles of what’s gone on.

    But Trump never looks at himself.  He only sees how victimized he is/feels here.  It’s “so unfair” – as he is wont to say.  So he’s looking for the “root” of this unfairness, which he broadly terms the ‘witchhunt.’

    So now he decides to release of all this confidential info.  Some assume he’s out to show his executive powers, but I doubt he has the psychic “organization” for that much foresight.

    Instead, the first scene of Macbeth is where he’s at.  The Three Witches.

    Since Trump views himself as a Victim in this part of the Reality Show, since he lacks a capacity for insight or the understanding we have that the investigation is a wide-ranging casting of nets into the past, he imagines the PROBLEM is simply the investigation itself – not him, his sociopathic cronies, his crimes, his family, his ties to Russia, money-laundering, his flouting of the constitution or oath of office, etc.

    So, he goes back to Scene 1 in his solipsistic “classical tragedy” – its villains of Comey, Sessions not recusing himself and to the“unfair” Mueller witch-hunt.  And he believes that unearthing all the classified info that started the investigation will PROVE how “unfair” and wrong it is.

    The Trump Bubble.  He simply can’t see outside it.  Just as EW tells us.

    • SteveB says:

      The corrollary is that Trump seems/is incapable of understanding the strategies of his enemies, He is fixated on loyalty/betrayal jealousy/revenge strength/weakness. For sure he has considerable low cunning, but behaviours of others that are other than purely transactional are not merely mysterious to him but inconceivable. So lacking insight into himself he lacks insight into the actions and strategies of others . Occassionally he is encouraged to mimic sympathy/empathy but is dismally bad at it.

      Getting him to appreciate, digest and understand an opponents complex legal strategy (especially where the strategic outcome is constructing a complex nuanced narrative for public consumption) and take strategic steps based upon such an understanding is, I would have thought, a fool’s errand.

  22. Drew says:

    I’ve always been bemused by Ty Cobb & John Dowd’s announced strategy of full on cooperation and providing any documents that the Special Counsel’s office requested, based on believing their client’s statements that there is nothing to hide, nothing to be found. Creating the impression of radical transparency is a PR strategy that has something to be said for it. I’m not expert or informed enough to know what they really did in terms of control of the flow of documents, etc. but it appears, that in some degree they, especially Cobb, were doing the things that one would do if they actually took all of Trump’s statements at face value, with no skepticism at all.

    Even naively honest and open clients are not always well-served by that approach. I would think that an attorney would always push back, be skeptical, point out problems of which the client is unaware and take care that the client’s naivete didn’t lead into further problems.  In the case of Trump, the client is a renowned liar–even when he’s making true statements he’s prevaricating. Anyone who considered himself to be Trump’s friend (whatever that could mean) would know to expect Trump to utter 1000 untruths, evasions and concealments of the truth even to trusted friends when the stakes were low. So Ty Cobb’s “the truth will set you free” approach seems something more than naive or incompetent. It seems more passive-aggressive than anything else to me. e.g. “So you’re going to stick with that obviously untrue story? I’ll fix you–I’ll just behave as if it is true and start releasing all the things that would document the truth and let you live with the consequences.”

    Dowd & Cobb had to know Trump’s penchant for prevarication before they went to work for him, everyone did. So why didn’t they take a more cautious strategy that would work with that? (In some ways it’s Trump’s strength he keeps people guessing and he always has a ready answer to keep his immediate audience with him). I know why Trump would go for Cobb’s line, he was promising a quick way to get the problem resolved and out of the way. Of course Cobb always had an express or implied conditional (“IF you are telling the whole truth and nothing else and IF we tell them the whole truth and nothing but the truth, THEN…) But that’s always counterfactual with Trump. For him, the truth is whatever he decides to say…a simple misunderstanding between two languages English and Narcissist.

    Technically Cobb & Dowd were not out of bounds in believing their client, but it strains credulity that they ACTUALLY believed he was telling the truth. I mean, yeah, if you had a client you hadn’t met, it would take time to twig to the client’s habitual mendacity, but Trump’s been doing this for years, out in public, in circles that Dowd at least, runs in.

    Was it just stupidity and incompetence? That seems extreme, even in Trumpworld.

    • SteveB says:

      Re Ty Cobb he was not Trump’s lawyer, but ouside counsel for the Office of White House Counsel. So in so far as Cobb had a client it was the Office of the President. Just as McGahn had no attorney client relationship with Trump, nor did Cobb.

      So Cobb would necessarily have needed to distance himself from any legal strategising to defeat Mueller. Instead he would have had to advise on the steps the WH Counsel, staff and WH staff should adopt re the investigations. It was for Trumps personal lawyers to devise his personal strategy, and to attempt to exert persuasion/influence/guidance towards Cobb in shaping the WH Counsel’s response for demands for documents witnessess etc.

      So eg it would be for Cobb to identify areas where presidential privilege might be legitimately asserted; it was for Dowd to work out how that might impact the personal legal strategy of Trump.

      Cobb’s role was thus at at least one remove from advising Trump on his overall strategy (or should have been).

  23. Joe says:

    “Devin Nunes-led intelligence”

    Isn’t this an oxymoron? I mean, Nunes and intelligence in the same sentence?

        • marksb says:

          As my mother used to say, “I never left anything in Fresno I ever wanted to go back for.” (She said the same thing about Bakersfield; she was wise that way.)

          Andrew Janz (the CA-22 (D) candidate) is making waves, but it’s a tough area, the deep-red corner of the Central Valley. However, there is some hope this election, as Janz is a prosecutor in the major crimes unit, Nunez has pissed off the local farmers by running around doing Trump’s bidding while doing nothing about water issues, farm exports are tanking due to the idiot-in-chief’s tariffs, and their guy is helping destroying reliable farm labor with Trump’s stupid immigration policies. Finally the boost in Hispanic voter registration may help. July-Sept poll spread from Strategies 360 show Janz up by 3 and Nunez down by 3. Nunez is still ahead 50-44, but it’s getting close and the polls may suffer from the likely-voter screen issue we’re seeing in a lot of red districts.

          It’s a steep mountain to climb, but this is the best challenge in decades.

          • Rayne says:

            It’s absolutely critical that Janz do intensive targeted messsaging to key audience segments via social media. There’s surely fearmongering out of the public’s sight bolstering Nunes right now and it’s got to be beaten back, can’t go unanswered as it did in 2016.

  24. CaliLawyer says:

    The extent to which the Russians have infiltrated the right wing media bubble is the question I’m most interested in, and secondarily their connection to media figures on the left, including dilattantes like Jill Stein. It seems pretty clear to me at this point that Assange has been in contact with Russia since 2010, and I was noting that here before the latest visa outreach news break.

    Stone, Jared, DJT and Jr. all are likely already “in the barrel” so to speak, but I’m also curious about Mnuchin and Ross, who both have extensive Russian business contacts. I think a report of the classified variety is actually likely, if only to tie up all of the national security loose ends for the IC crowd without making them public.

    • Drew says:

      “I think a report of the classified variety is actually likely”

      Yeah-though it will be kind of like the epilogue by Ishmael at the end of Moby Dick. The story is over, it doesn’t tell the story, but “I alone am left to tell the tale.”

      • Bob Conyers says:

        I think there will be a very detailed public report to go along with any classified internal materuals, either written by a congressional joint committee, or by a congressionally appointed commission supplemented with material gathered by Congress.

        The composition of the investigation will be key – hopefully they can dig up enough Robert Gates/Dick Lugar types to be involved and do the job right, giving it a bipartisan quality. But heavens help us if the GOP finagles seats for people like Goodlatte or Gingrich.

  25. manqueman says:

    What I keep saying — so much now that even I bore me: The Times is garbage. It’s a higher quality clickbait operation and very little more. They engage in just enough quality reportage to ensure or justify a Pulitzer so they can boast of being awesome. Everything else is crap reportage or worse. (Reviews and the like are, of course, of whatever value people take them for.)
    In this case, it’s actually a one sentence story: Donald’s lawyers don’t and can’t know what’s going with Mueller because he’s keeping that sealed an operation full stop. Okay a second sentence: Everything you hear from Donald’s lawyers is pandering BS and nothing more since they don’t and can’t know what’s going on.

  26. Outcountry says:

    I’ve been wondering for some time whether Trump is more afraid of Putin or of Mueller. He clearly acts like both are existential personal threats. I think he has a pretty good idea of what Putin can do to him, but appears desperate to know the extent of the dirt that Mueller’s team has uncovered. If we make the assumption that Mueller has used the past year to unravel all the financial shenanigans (money laundering, bribes and payoffs, illegitimate revenue sources, and tax evasion), criminal conspiracies, and borderline treasonous acts committed by The Family, he may simply have an unbeatable poker hand. I am curious if there is any legal barrier to the Justice Department offering Trump a get-out-of-jail-free card if he resigns from the Presidency, abases himself publicly to defang any civil unrest from the gun-toting elements that revere him, forswears retaliatory lawsuits, and agrees to stay out of politics for the rest of his life? I know Trump’s ego would have a hell of a time accepting those conditions, but I also think there is a good possibility that a lot of Congressional Republicans might want to remove him without having to put their names on record in an official impeachment vote. Obviously the establishment Republicans will not pursue this option unless they are truly up against the wall. A bloodbath in November coupled with some egregious post-election atrocity by Trump might just push them over the edge.
    A naked threat, coordinated in advance with his own party, was effective with Nixon – why not with Trump? I know this involves a lot of hypotheticals, but I really don’t see any other way to get rid of Trump before 2020.

    • TheraP says:

      How could Trump possible remain quiet??? I can’t see it. Yes, they could offer this, that and the other. Yes, Trump could (sociopathically) be made to sign something? Maybe hold it up for the cameras?

      But then what???? Tweeting certainly would happen. Often! People would want to interview him. Is he capable of declining Fox? Or others?

      The only way to keep him quiet is a locked Forensic Psychiatric facility. St. Elizabeth’s comes to mind. Or turn Mar a Loco into one?

      • SteveB says:

        I hope I am proved to be wrong, but I cannot imagine that Trump could be persuaded to follow a Nixonian path out of the White House. Nixon always had as part of his self image the notion of himself as an historical figure with a legacy to protect and a claim to statesmanship and service to th nation.

        Trump wants the gaudy baubles of office, lavish praise and appreciation for just being Trump – a gift to the nation by being there. As pseudonymousinNC puts it : he lives in a sort of accumulated present. History is meaningless to him, unless its grievances can be manipulated for present use.

        Trump will brazen it out to the end and beyond. His parade could well involve being marched across the WH lawn at bayonet point : hyperbole, perhaps but being persuaded to be dignified for the sake of the nation is not his style – though exile with a $billion and the worlds biggest yacht is the sort of thing that would appeal to (what counts for him as) his better nature.

        • koolmoe says:

          Yeah, while I’m not so sure Trump’s narcissism would allow him to resign in any form without a showy battle, he is simply a Midas looking to cash in any way he can. As has been supposed elsewhere, he didn’t really want to be President, but he saw gold in the related hills.

          So he made it…does he really want to deal with this? I suspect not.

          “…exile with a $billion and the worlds biggest yacht is the sort of thing…”

          Yeah, I see that. I mean, even if he was convinced to resign, and not pursue politics…wouldn’t the mere financial benefit of selling US secrets to the Russians post-Presidency be worth it? Even as tainted as he will be, his experience and position will likely be an income source into his waning years.

          I could see him possibly, if he has any sense of clarity left, finding relief in leaving the public position to profit. OTOH, his hubris may not allow it.

      • jaXon says:

        Hi,  first time post for me.  Thanks to Marcy and everyone here.  I check this site daily(sometimes multiple times) to keep a little sanity.  I’m a psych nurse at a forensic facility in Wa working the night shift.  Sometimes when it’s slow we discuss what interventions we would have for DT if and when he gets admitted.  The similarities between DT and many of our patients is amazing. The only thing that keeps him out of a facility such as ours is that he’s got money.

        OT I’m in the 5th congressional district and Lisa Brown is making a good run against Cathy McMorris Rogers.  Doesn’t seem be getting a lot of MSM attention but it’s looking like we may have a shot.

  27. Jenny says:

    Thank you, Marcy!!!  At times I feel like I am being punked by the Groper in Chief, the grifter family & maniacal administration.  Then I read your comments & am grateful you put together the puzzle pieces helping me to understand the legal language.  That way I feel grounded in all the confusion.  Ha – the song by the Temptations “Ball of Confusion” comes to mind.

  28. Rusharuse says:

    A dingo ate moy baybee!

    30 yrs ago the FBI helped Aussie lawmakers keep Australia Trump free. Many years later Alexander Downer returns the favour . . that’s wot friends is for, eh gov!

    “In 1987, NSW Police were so concerned about Trump’s ‘mafia connections‘ they recommended he be excluded from bidding for Sydney’s first inner-city casino project, documents released on Thursday by the NSW State Government show.”

  29. SAO says:

    I’ve wondered if Cobb and Dowd thought Mueller was conducting a witch hunt and when they got into the details, they discovered 1) Trump was dirty and 2) Trump wanted them to lie for him and was likely to blame them if it went wrong, ie to take the risk of disbarment.

    The solution: take Trump’s word at face value and proceed from there. Then, if the strategy fails, it’s on Trump for lying to his lawyers.

    In short, CYA.

    • Rayne says:

      If Cobb and Dowd thought the investigation was a ‘witch hunt’ they aren’t worth a quarter of their billable rate. There was too much hinky about Trump even before the election.

      I’d like to know what Cobb and Dowd thought they’d get out of this. The eternal gratitude of Trump’s sponsors and enablers?

      • koolmoe says:

        Short-term, short-sighted accolades for scooping the inside dirt, a book or two after the tragedy unfolds, and an early retirement funded by spinning/speaking tours?

  30. obsessed says:

    Great post and comments as always. I wish M&M would read this site.

    The Mueller topic I’ve been unable to find fresh info on is the effort by Andrew Miller to contest his subpoena to testify about Roger Stone. Does anyone know if there’s a pending court date for this to be decided?

    • Rayne says:

      Should be, same as Steve Calk at Fed Savings Bank. I suspect Special Counsel already has a bead on these banking relations, in Barrack’s case because he was tied to Rick Gates into the inauguration and beyond. He may have cooperated, though, when he was interviewed by Special Counsel’s Office this past May. Calk is still on the hot seat since SCO’s Greg Andres called him a co-conspirator during Manafort’s trial last month.

      • SteveB says:

        Barrack also tied to
        1 introduction of Manafort into the campaign
        2 looking after Manafort in the immediate aftermath of his resignation from the campaign, for 5 days on his yacht in the Med
        3 after the inauguration taking Gates with him to all his WH meetings until time Gates was fired by him following Gates entanglement with investigation becoming public.

  31. Drew says:

    @TheraP I also cannot imagine Trump keeping quiet or doing a Nixon exit. I do wonder, when it gets to the end game, whether there won’t be something worked out. It would have to be fully coercive, like house arrest, the deal would have to be bipartisan, but I would think the Republicans would be invested in keeping him out of prison. One consideration is that there is every reason to believe that Trump’s “empire” will dissolve in the middle of all this–both because his net worth is much smaller than advertised & because of all the criminal connections that are emerging. His fans might have to have a GoFundMe to keep him in Maralago

    • skua says:

      Re-routing a Trump flight on Air Force One to a visually isolated airport, possessing an adjacent secure detention facility, could be the most dignified approach.  No need even to force him from the plane.  Just jam his comms, evacuate all unnecessary personel from the plane and then wait for him to enter the detention facility of his own accord.

        • Rayne says:

          Ah! I couldn’t find it, will have to chase back through her comments for it. Maraloco. Hah! He’d probably be happy if he could spend the rest of his days playing golf there, provided he also had some television time and a means for propping up his ego. Maybe a fake reality TV show with fake ratings playing to a fake audience playing only to his devices inside the Maraloco compound.

          A Truman Show incarceration.

  32. Trip says:

    Trump is taking advice from villainous cartoon news characters.

    Matthew Gertz‏Verified account @MattGertz

    Transcript of The Hill’s Trump interview reveals he says he called for declassifying the FISA application because he was “asked by so many people that I respect” including “the great Lou Dobbs, the great Sean Hannity, the wonderful great Jeanie Pirro.”
    12:04 PM – 19 Sep 2018

    …All of which is to say that, as usual, the president weighed the advice he receives from sycophants on TV more highly than any counsel he might receive from more credible sources.
    “For months, right here on this program, we have been asking for the unredacted FISA documents to be released,” Hannity said on Monday. “Now, the president has done it.” The president privileged Hannity’s advice over that of national security experts, with potentially dire consequences.

    When does Hannity get caught up? Supposedly Michael Cohen was his lawyer in the dramatic court reveal, and then…nothing.

    • Nopants says:

      Hannity et al. get caught when the Murdock State TV’S oligarch is indicted for conspiracy with Deng. They married 3 years after Fox started 1996 (after Deng groomed him like a predator) and divorced when everything was in place for Trump and Jared in 2013. Total theory, of course.

    • Rayne says:

      But this piece of cumulative theory was bylined by Shane and Mazzetti, not M/M. I’ll bet whoever does clipping for Trump only picks M/M pieces, and/or Fox’s talking puppet heads only focus on M/M.

  33. Thomas says:

    Since many of you here are law experts, please do go to and look up the 176 Republican bills that became law so far this year.
    In particular, there is one just signed this month called the “Follow the Rules Act.”
    It is a very short law! Just a sentence or two. Please read it. It has the most convoluted language I have ever seen and it was passed with 407 yea and Zero nays in the House and by Unanimous Consent in the Senate.
    Because of the convoluted language (and really, you must read it. I can’t do it justice) it seems like it could have two wildly different interpretations.
    One interpretation is that “personnel action” is prohibited against an official who is ordered to violate a rule or regulation, and they refuse.
    The other interpretation is that “personnel action” is prohibited against an official who orders another official to violate a rule or regulation.
    Now, how does that shake out when the president orders officials to violate regulations on declassification, and they refuse?
    Or, an official orders another official to violate ANY regulation, and the Executive Branch uses the second interpretation to argue that Congress has legislated the end of any oversight?

  34. Thomas says:

    Ok link didn’t work above
    Follow the rules act
    HR 675
    Search for Bills that became laws introduced by Republicans
    And choose both summary and text.
    Not hard to find. There are only 178 such laws that the 115th Congress passed.
    And don’t pay attention to commentary found by googling. The law does NOT read the way it has been sold.

  35. Thomas says:

    Follow the Rules Act

    (Sec. 2) This bill extends the prohibition against a person taking, failing to take, or threatening to take or fail to take a personnel action against any employee or applicant for employment for refusing to obey an order that would require the individual to violate a law to personnel actions against such an individual for refusing to obey an order that would violate a rule or regulation.

    Note: the text of this law is different than the above summary in syntax, language and meaning.
    Yeah wtf
    That’s what I said.

  36. Trip says:

    WTH is going on with the NYT alleged Rosenstein wire story? Another Rudy production? All of the news today and yesterday about Dowd, Cohen, and money seems to have set someone off to create a reason to fire him.

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