After a Year of Page Views for Credulous Reports Trump Wanted to Do Mueller Interview, NYT Gets Page Views Admitting He Won’t

President Trump told a lot of lies in his interview with Chris Wallace yesterday. He lied when he claimed he didn’t know Matt Whitaker opposed the Mueller investigation when Trump hired him (he even suggested there was some ambiguity in Whitaker’s attacks on Mueller). He lied when he claimed Georgia’s gubernatorial race was stacked against Brian Kemp, who cheated to win it. He lied when he claimed no one believes in the First Amendment more than he does. He lied when he claimed no one had done more for the military than he has (after saying “I really probably assumed [skipping an appearance at Arlington on Veterans Day] was fine”).

In other words, that interview was just like every other interview Trump does, an opportunity to float lies and have them treated seriously.

Which is why I’m amused by the headline takeaway NYT Maggie gave the story, treating Trump’s assertion that he won’t sit for an interview with Mueller’s team as a reversal.

President Trump said in an interview aired Sunday that he most likely would not sit for an interview with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, asserting that “we’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is, probably, we’re finished.”


His comments on the Mueller investigation marked an apparent reversal from a year of claiming that he was willing and eager to be interviewed by the special counsel, who is investigating possible collusion between the president’s campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 election. Mr. Trump’s legal team has blanched at the idea, fearing that the president might lie under oath, and has steadily narrowed the path for such an interview.

Of course, it’s not a reversal at all. Since at least March (when Mueller indicated to Jay Sekulow his questions would reflect real knowledge of Trump’s awareness of a conspiracy with the Russians), Trump and his advisors have been involved in a game whereby they used the press — starting with Maggie — to sustain a claim of cooperation when in fact they were really stalling.

A more honest headline might read, “Trump confirms we got taken as chumps.” Instead, the NYT will get some more page views without admitting that they’ve been getting page views for most of a year on reports that were not credible.

And that stalling is one of the aspects of the Mueller part of Wallace’s interview that is interesting. While Trump initially adopts the present progressive that Wallace uses to ask a question about Trump’s open book test, elsewhere he describes having completed the questions. He even asserts he’ll be handing them over “very soon.”

WALLACE: Your team is preparing written answers to questions about–

TRUMP: No, no, no, not my team. I’m preparing written answers. My — I — I’m the one that does the answering. Yes, are they writing them out?


TRUMP: Yeah. They’re writing what I tell them to write.

WALLACE: Are they going to be submitted?

TRUMP: At some point very soon, yes. I’ve completed them.

WALLACE: So you’re — you are submitting—

TRUMP: And it wasn’t a big deal. By the way, it wasn’t a big deal. The answers — the questions were asked and answered. It wasn’t a big deal. You know, they make it like I had meetings for many, many hours — I got the questions, I responded, we wrote them out, I read them once, I read them a second time, we made some changes, that’s it. They’re very simple.


TRUMP: You know why? I did nothing wrong.

WALLACE: Here’s my question, though. You are submitting written answers–


WALLACE: –to the special counsel about the issue of collusion but not on obstruction of justice?

TRUMP: Well there was no obstruction of justice.

WALLACE: I — I’m — let me — if i might, sir, just ask–

TRUMP: I think they’d probably agree with me.

WALLACE: If I may ask the question–

TRUMP: And all you have to do is look at Article II.

WALLACE: Is that your final position, that there’s going to be no sit-down interview and nothing written or in person on obstruction?

TRUMP: I would say probably. Probably. I mean, I can change my mind, but probably. I think we’ve–

WALLACE: No interview?

TRUMP: I think we’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is probably, we’re finished.

WALLACE: What are the odds? One in a hundred? What–What?

Trump has been stalling on answering these questions for weeks, first by failing to complete them before the election, then further stalling until Matt Whitaker got OLC’s approval to serve as Attorney General. At least from what he said to Wallace, he is now ready to hand them in, perhaps in a belief that Whitaker has a plan to kill the investigation once that happens (which might be why he said “we’re finished”).

I’ve said from the start that these questions may be the last step Mueller has before rolling out what he has been working on.

[T]his agreement may have as much to do with preparation for the post-election period in which Mueller can roll out any indictments he has been working on and Trump can start firing people. That is, before he makes any big moves in the case in chief, he has to get Trump on the record in some form or other. Better to get him on the record in sworn written statements than launch a subpoena fight that will last past that post-election period.

And one possible explanation for the fairly odd delay in submitting a status report in Paul Manafort’s case is that Mueller doesn’t want to say anything about Manafort’s cooperation until after he has Trump’s sworn answers.

So while Trump didn’t say precisely when he was going to turn in his overdue open book test, he at least asserted that he will do so.

The NYT headline probably should have read, “The 11-month NYT-assisted stall will soon be over.”

Update: As linked above, in a post trying to lay out the possible reasons why Mueller would delay a status report on Manafort until November 26 is that he wanted to get Trump’s answers before releasing the status report.

Politico reports that Trump may turn in his open book test tomorrow, before he heads to Mar-a-Lago for Thanksgiving.

Trump’s lawyers set an informal Thanksgiving deadline for the president to finalize his responses on topics surrounding the Russian hacking of the 2016 election, and he’s almost ready to submit them, according to two sources familiar with the conversations.

The president’s written answers — which carry the same legal burden for truthfulness as an in-person interview — are likely to be submitted as Trump settles into his Mar-a-Lago club in South Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday. Trump is scheduled to depart Washington, D.C., on Tuesday afternoon.

56 replies
  1. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Odds on Maggie tweeting that behind the scenes they knew this all along and he was just bullshitting, but their job is to serve as a high-powered fan for the bullshit?

      • jf-fl says:

        Aside from the whole lack of appreciation for principles, logic, ethics and decency amongst many of our citizens… perhaps the most interesting aspect of Trump presidency is it’s shown which journalists are actively engaged in their practice versus going through the motions.

        People who report- over and over- lies and unsubstaintiated claims that are never validated or materialized…. but then never change their MO or tactics to reflect a discounting of information from said source(s)…  yes technically many are still practicing journalism but it’s more at the level that Trump practices his cons.   Go through the motions, hedge and CYA so you have plausible deniability.    That way they can claim to be critical and questioning later even though they’re spending majority of their time repeating and responding to non-sense.    I’m not advocating more opinioned journalists, I’m advocating more substitive, less sensationist and entertainment-seeking journalists.      Every now and again we get something like NYT’s piece on Trump’s real source of wealth from a few months back… but it seems like 50-75% of journalism today is Trump saying something offensive and reporters culling for quote and tweet reactions.     I guess that’s where people’s heads are at?   If so we’re getting the government we deserve.

        I hope the dems realize that they need to be balanced and centrist.   Doesn’t seem too likely though if Pelosi is going to put tons of newb progressives in leadership positions.    It’s kind of a critical time, because a lot of partisian left wants to have their own angry version of the tea party.    I don’t get the appeal of following your anger and emotion, those generally do not make for lasting decisions.   Note that the tea party didn’t survive.

        Perhaps ranked choice system that Maine uses now (or vote top 1st-2nd-3rd candidate system, as it’s more simply known)… perhaps this is a possible solution to avoid electing extreme candidates that are always angry looking for a fight.    Trump is very bad, but what’s empowering him is us and the way we respond to negative outcomes.    If we act like Trump and Trumpkins- no matter your intent or ideaology- hard to see how that makes us more likely to face the very real problems we face.

        I hope the dems just play it straight, stay away from silly issues like PC-enforcement, verbal-sexism and microaggressions.   Commit that any new proposals will be budget neutral, and propose a balanced plan that fixes deficit.    That AOC and her lack of savings and message is getting lots of facetime in media now does not bode well for any of these things.    The boring people are really where the action, pragmatism and solutions are at.   You can be mad by yourself in a room with closed doors, probably better for everyone that way imho.   Do not become the liberal tea party.

        • arbusto says:

          So continue the leadership and direction of Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer in absolute pragmatism and go along to get along.  I’d love to have the knee pad concession for the caucus.

          • Valley girl says:

            Yeah- ji-fi reminds me of that self-serving bon mot of wisdom (not) “politics is the art of the possible”.  Gag me with a spoon!

        • Trip says:

          Why do the Dems have to champion the deficit cause, FFS? That is a bullshit conservative talking point which only seems to matter to them when the Dems are in office and they’ve already spent like there’s no tomorrow.

          Also, the Tea Party is a Koch production. No need for it any longer now that fascism and Trumpism is in vogue.

          • Valley girl says:

            Most excellent comment!  LOL

            I will take it as I read it.  No hope of changing things (leftward for a more equatable society would be my aim) w/o pushing the window of discourse (Overton window) leftward.  And, pushing to the extreme can shift the middle ground. Seemed to me way back in college (class of ’69) that those who would take the “let’s be reasonable” stand– “those radicals are nuts”– didn’t do much to change things. My view was that those who pushed the boundaries way way beyond the comfort level of most people were essential to change. They pushed the boundaries such that what was considered acceptable middle ground, or whatever, moved to the left also. 

            Still me, after all these years.

    • BobCon says:

      She could salvage her dignity by outing the sources who lied to her, but of course that will never happen.

      At a minimum, it would be worthwhile the next time Dean Baquet offers another Professor Pangloss defense of the Times as the best of all possible newspapers that his interviewer asks him why they never questioned the White House’s honesty about this.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Neither Maggie nor the NYT can salvage the credibility they have squandered through their joint, “backstage access pass” coverage of Donald Trump.

        • BobCon says:

          They’d never do it, but I would think a lot more fondly of Haberman and Schmidt if they published full and complete records of every conversation with every source who went off the record and proceeded to lie or otherwise act unethically and deserved to be exposed.

    • Frank Probst says:

      I’m not buying this.  Mueller would have nailed down Manafort completely before offering him a deal, so if Manafort is contradicting his previous statements, his deal goes away, and he’s vulnerable to more charges.  He’s almost certainly indictable on state charges, and his plea deal is supposedly pardon-proof.  And remember that he’s still rotting in the Alexandria jail, not running around living the high life.  Every time his sentencing gets delayed is more time he spends in the Alexandria jail rather than in Club Fed, so he’s got a pretty powerful incentive to hold up his end of the bargain.

  2. Frank Probst says:

    I’m not convinced he’s going to give written answers to anything, and anything he does submit is likely to be incomplete and full of “I don’t recall.”-type statements.  He says he’s done and that he’s double-checked the answers, so there’s no reason not to submit the document to Mueller today.  It’s not like they need an extra week to get the font size and the margins just right.

    As for this being the last piece of the puzzle for Mueller, I’m not so sure.  The Roger Stone thread is still hanging, as is Andrew Miller’s testimony and the ultimate disposal of Jerome Corsi, both of whom could provide useful testimony about Stone.  But then again, I know better than to bet against EW, so it’s possible that Stone will be indicted when Mueller rolls out his case-in-chief.  Mueller probably doesn’t need Miller now that Gates and Manafort have flipped, and the case against Stone is likely all going to be documents (including texts, e-mails, etc.) and testimony from others, because like Trump, you really can’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth.

    That’s the ConFraudUS part of the case.  I think Mueller is going to side-step the whole issue of obstruction by simply putting everything into a final report on the matter and sending it in.  It’ll get buried, but the House will be able to subpoena it.  I suspect it’ll be a pretty damning picture of obstruction of justice.  The House could potentially impeach Trump on this issue, but I really don’t think that’s going to happen.  The House leadership knows the Senate won’t vote to convict, so it’s a pointless exercise and a political loser.  I think they’ll just come up with some sort of lengthy statement that can pass on a majority vote in the House and leave it at that.  (They can call it censure, or a finding of fact, or some sort of resolution, or whatever, but I don’t think it’s going to be anything that has any teeth in it.)

    • Avattoir says:

      Can you cite the DoJ regulation that provides for the kind of “report” that you’re describing here?

      • Kai-Lee says:

        “The Attorney General’s regulations provide for reports from a special counsel to the Attorney General, and for reports from the Attorney General to Congress. For the former, there are to be annual (section 600.8(a)(2)) and closing (section 600.8(c)) reports by special counsel to the Attorney General. For the latter, there are to be reports from the Attorney General to the chairs and ranking minority members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees (section 600.9) on appointment of special counsel, on the removal of special counsel, and on the conclusion of a special counsel’s investigation.

        With regard to the annual reports from special counsel to the Attorney General, the regulation (section 600.8(a)(2)) provides that after the Attorney General receives the counsel’s report on “the status of the investigation” together with a budget request for the coming year, “[t]he Attorney General shall determine whether the investigation should continue and, if so, establish the budget for the next year.” The rule making order (at 64 Fed. Reg. 37040) stresses that “this annual report is intended to be only a status report” and “will not serve as a vehicle for ongoing supervision.”

        At the end of a special counsel’s investigation, section 600.8(c) of the regulation provides that a special counsel “shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.” The special counsel’s obligation to file “a summary final report” is “limited.” The counsel’s report is to be “handled as a confidential document as are internal documents relating to any federal criminal investigation.” 64 Fed. Reg. 37041.

        The rule making order notes (64 Fed. Reg. 37040-41) the concerns about final reports under the Act, both with respect to the incentive they had created to “over-investigate” a matter and the fact that they could “do harm to legitimate privacy interests” if it became public. But the order also states (64 Fed. Reg. 37041) that “it is appropriate for any federal official to provide a written record upon completion of an assignment, both for historical purposes and to enhance accountability—particularly a federal official who has functioned with substantial independence and little supervision.” It observed (id.) that a concluding report from special counsel would not be unique: “In major cases, federal prosecutors commonly document their decisions not to pursue a case, explaining the factual and legal reasons for the conclusions they have reached.”

        As for “notifications and reports” (section 600.9) from the Attorney General to Congress, the order states (64 Fed. Reg. 37041) that the required reports would be “brief notifications, with an outline of the actions and the reasons for them.” As noted earlier, the Attorney General’s report at the conclusion of a special counsel’s investigation is to include (section 600.9(a)(3)) “a description and explanation” of any times in which the Attorney General countermanded a proposed action by a special counsel because it was “so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued.”

        Apart from that specific element of the Attorney General’s report at the end of an investigation, it is not altogether clear what that final report will contain. The discussion under section 600.8(c), on a special counsel’s closing report to the Attorney General, suggests (64 Fed. Reg. 37041) that consideration will be given to “[t]he interests of the public in being informed of and understanding the reasons for the actions of the Special Counsel.” As stated in the discussion under section 600.9(c) (at 64 Fed. Reg. 37041), another objective that may shape the content of the Attorney General’s report at the end of an investigation is the goal of helping to “ensure congressional and public confidence in the integrity of the process.”

        The regulation cannot govern, of course, whether the Judiciary Committees will release the reports from the Attorney General to them. As for the Attorney General’s own release of a report, the regulation provides (section 600.9(c)) that “[t]he Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions.” Presumably, the major but not exclusive constraint on public release would be the restriction in Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure on release of grand jury information. Under section 600.9(c) of the regulations, the special counsel is not authorized to release information apart from “generally applicable Departmental guidelines concerning public comment with respect to any criminal investigation, and relevant law.”

        The project report similarly sought to curtail the breadth of reporting that occurred under the Act. Nevertheless, reporting is an instrument of accountability, and we recommended that special counsel be directed to submit annual reports to the Attorney General “on the progress of any investigation or prosecution conducted by the Special Counsel.” These annual reports should provide sufficient information for budgetary decisions and to enable the Attorney General to make a periodic decision whether to terminate an investigation. Concerning a final report, we recommended that it be simply one “which describes the work of the Special Counsel, including the disposition of all cases brought.”

        As for reports from the Attorney General to Congress, our report recommended (as the regulations provide) that the Attorney General submit a report explaining his or her removal of a special counsel or termination of an investigation. In the Attorney General’s regulation, the latter would be included in the required report “[u]pon conclusion of the Special Counsel’s investigation.” Our project’s recommendation would leave to the Attorney General the power to determine whether to release to Congress or the public all or parts of a special counsel’s fiscal, annual, or final reports. In doing so, however, our report recognized that “Congressional oversight is, of course, a central element of accountability. The Attorney General’s duty, on behalf of the Executive Branch, to be responsive to Congress on matters within the latter’s responsibility should be sufficient assurance that information will be appropriately shared.”

        The Attorney General’s regulations are silent about reporting on impeachment matters. The project report specifically recommended that the provision in the Independent Counsel Act on impeachment reports to the House not be carried forward. At the same time, we made clear that “nothing in [the project’s proposed regulation] prevents Congress from obtaining information during an impeachment proceeding.”

        Much more at this site re appointment terms and termination, etc. as well.

        § 600.8 Notification and reports by the Special Counsel.
        (1) A Special Counsel shall be provided all appropriate resources by the Department of Justice. Within the first 60 days of his or her appointment, the Special Counsel shall develop a proposed budget for the current fiscal year with the assistance of the Justice Management Division for the Attorney General’s review and approval. Based on the proposal, the Attorney General shall establish a budget for the operations of the Special Counsel. The budget shall include a request for assignment of personnel, with a description of the qualifications needed.
        (2) Thereafter, 90 days before the beginning of each fiscal year, the Special Counsel shall report to the Attorney General the status of the investigation, and provide a budget request for the following year. The Attorney General shall determine whether the investigation should continue and, if so, establish the budget for the next year.
        (b)Notification of significant events. The Special Counsel shall notify the Attorney General of events in the course of his or her investigation in conformity with the Departmental guidelines with respect to Urgent Reports.
        (c)Closing documentation. At the conclusion of the Special Counsel’s work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.

        • Avattoir says:

          That doesn’t answer my question.

          You’re not citing the Regulations, except right at the end.

          What you’re citing BEFORE that is an homogenized hypothetical entrails reading of what the Regulations ‘could mean’.\

          You’re citing the Cornell site towards which I bear strong seasonal responses, mostly visceral in the Festivus sense — i.e. opening with the airing of grievances, I got a LOT of problems with that entire entry. It’s about as useful as thinking you understand philosophy because you’ve read online the syllabus from Stanford.

          What entries like the one on the Cornell sites appears to be doing to is attempting to derive some mystical melange out of a blend of the current Regs with past versions – which can be fine in some contexts, because sometimes the exercise can be useful as a tool for figuring out how a given current reg is intended to alter those that preceded it – but ALSO with selected parts of the LEGISLATIVE history of various acts, some of which were recast, replaced or rewritten, ALL of which ultimately were either repealed or allowed to lapse, leaving behind fossilized remains of creatures that no longer exist.

          I mean, I’ve actually been involved with SOME constitutional arguments, and I’ve read or watched a whole lot more, and it’s not like I’ve haven’t SEEN these castles in the sky, these concocted edifices, actually being conjured up before some judges and panels (before someone shuts that right down).

          But they’re not truly out of the textual approach: they’re more like, I dunno … paleo-textual.

          MOREOVER, all YOU have done here is cut and paste – you’ve not actually attempted to link up the wish list in the comments I was responding to with my own, might I be so bold as to suggest, precisely pointed question.

          I continue to await a proper response to my question.

  3. Trip says:

    Some of the investigative reporting at The Times has been phenomenal like the long read on Trump Sr and son Donald scamming and skimming their way toward wealth. The same goes for the Facebook expose, among some others. But time and time again, the Mike and Maggie Show has demonstrated that they belong on celebrity gossip pages, not serious political coverage.

    • BobCon says:

      Amy Chozick, who covered Clinton, lightly touched on the fact that the national politics editors are a disaster — very much in the Politico mold of chasing gossip and grooming sources at the expense of genuine reporting.

      It’s obviously an old problem with the NY Times, and I think it goes to an institutional mindset that DC is a meaningless niche subject that can be covered the same way they cover fashion or real estate. They provide an outlet for the leaders to speak, write thinly researched trend pieces, and never ask too many hard questions that start slowing down the day to day flow of information. They will no more question why they are covering WH press briefings than they would wonder why they are doing cookie cutter reviews of major label spring fashion shows.

      • Trip says:

        Well said @BobCon. I will add that the nature of access reporting misguidedly lulls the reporters into the sense of peerage with sources. “I’m not on the outside, I’m one of them”. Judith Miller took this to heart.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Terrific observations about the nature and lack of seriousness about NYT reporting on D.C.

        Years ago, I read a Robert MacNeil’s autobiography (MacNeil/Lehrer Report), and he expressed a sense of hopelessness and futility about J-Schools, noting that his own background was in history.  Traditionally, the really good reporters has an historical perspective.  Today, I think this is true of TPM’s Josh Marshall and a few others — and Jane Mayer has a terrific sense of how dark money works to shape events by collecting data points. Her book ‘Dark Money’ exhibits an impressive sense of how to explain data and reveal the Bigger Picture. (Craig Unger also does this well, as does Yves Smith.) 

        But reporters really need a solid grounding in history or in some area of data analysis to be top-notch. One of my kids was a Cmu minor, but had a Biology major; she works in media, but the financial pressures in media today are horrendous.

        To get better reporting, we probably need new economic models for media. The NYT ability to incorporate more audio (podcasts) and video is good, but … your point that they don’t seem to grasp the larger implications of what goes in D.C. is flat brilliant IMVHO.

        Or, of course, Comp Lit, which is EW’s PhD, also provides good background for analysis ;-)

        • emptywheel says:

          My undergrad degree was in history, and I took the history departments graduate seminar on research techniques in grad school.

          • pseudonymous in nc says:

            It’s all forensics and source evaluation and weighing prevailing narratives against what the sources actually tell you, along with the contemporary response to the sources.

            The fundamental problem of access reporting is that “it is true that this person said a thing” is BREAKING but “the thing that person said is or is not true” is secondary.

            (There’s a weird confluence between humanities and infosec, as the kind of close-reading skills that work well when you’re in a research library also apply to seeing logfiles and inferring motive and method and attack vectors.)

        • Trip says:

          They want to push off from both sides to clear a space from which truth can be told. That would make things simpler, but of course things are not that simple. The threat to truthtelling — to journalism, democracy, the Times itself — is not symmetrical. They know this. But the temptation lives.


        • BobCon says:

          That’s a good take on their split the difference mindset, Back in the day, Nixon used to justify his policies with the formulation “there are those on the left who say we should withdraw from Vietnam immediately, and there are those on the right who say we should send in millions of troops, but I say we need a sensible policy in the middle….”

          And then Nixon would use this formulation to justify whatever he wanted as the sensible middle path – invade Cambodia, launch a carpet bombing campaign, whatever.

          If the NY Times had any historical sense, they’d know how well that kind of anti-analysis works.

    • Watson says:

      Doubtless the NYT posture as to Trump has been supine, but I join in recommending its piece on Trump’s taxes.

      It is long, but it’s clear, lively, accessible, and well-written. It establishes that dad Fred, a maniacal tax-avoider, was the brains of the operation; and that the Trump empire is based on unrelenting deception in manipulating the title to, and valuation of, their properties.

      It is a disgrace that the Times was focusing on HRC’s emails two years ago instead of on Trump’s taxes.

      • BobCon says:

        That gets to the heart of the problem – the Times has narratives written for decades for Trump and Clinton, and they will never, ever stray from them. Clinton is the suspicion-raiser, and nothing would ever get the Times to drop the idea that a cloud always followed her around. No amount of candor or truth telling would ever be enough.

        Likewise, Trump is the teflon guy, and no amount of crooked behavior is allowed by the Times to affect their future coverage. The incredibly well-documented criminal fraud ought to have opened the floodgates – editors should have forced the political writers to discount every word coming from the White House and view them through the lens of a grifter. But instead, everything is written and edited from the perspective of giving a benefit of the doubt, on the assumption that he’s never really guilty.

      • JD12 says:

        In their defense, those records weren’t available until Trump’s bookkeeper cousin passed away in January. They did some alright reporting with what they had in 2016, it just got drowned out in all the noise.

        Of course Wayne Barrett, David Cay Johnston, and Timothy O’Brien covered a lot of it as well.

        I can’t believe how quickly this NYT report passed though. If this were any other president it would be a career-threatening scandal.

  4. Trip says:

    Michelle Wolf‏Verified account @michelleisawolf

    Michelle Wolf Retweeted WHCA

    The @whca are cowards. The media is complicit. And I couldn’t be prouder.

    WHCA‏Verified account @whca

    WHCA Announces Acclaimed Author Ron Chernow as Featured Speaker for 2019 Annual Dinner.

    • Avattoir says:

      Good choice: just one exposure to Chernow’s droning out his 1950’s con-light elitist perspective should pretty much bury the WHPC Show as Appointment TV.

      (I’m noot denying have read his book on Hamilton, nor even that I enjoyed some of it – tho, not nearly enough to get all the way thru it. I couldn’t get past the internal voice shrieking, JEZZUZZ, couldn’t someone with actual depth and insight taken on the inherently both fascinating & important subject? I don’t expect many to be thrilled with this suggestion, but Joseph Ellis’ works show a peculiar aptitude for capturing that era of self-manufactured personal mythologies – perhaps unsurprisingly, Ellis himself turned out to be a serial confabulist as to his own. But you can’t get all that from one book or journal article: you have to read most if not all his work on the era. Also Flexnor too has a more adult & considered take Hamilton, plus writes better, but Flexnor’s main focus was on Washington. For fun, nothing from the trad historians can touch Gore Vidal’s fictionalized Burr – a lot Vidal’s historical works read with a level of fun that pretty much only Hillary Mantel seems to reach now – but Burr of course is not chiefly a focus on Hamilton.)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The White House Press Corpse plays it safe.

      Instead of fighting back in the midst of a battle between one of its own and the Don, the WHP Corpse – and its corporate owners – have chosen to enable this serial press abuser president.

      Instead of fighting or filtering this president’s corrosive “live” feed through a realism lens, or ignoring it – covering it only in summary, without pictures, and with corrective context – the press Corpse and its owners roll over and submit.

      Pathetic doesn’t quite capture the weakness shown here, because the press is ready to offer up more.  They know he will demand it.  So, they will give it to him and he’ll piss on them all the more.  He’s just shown them how he does that with Hannity – and he likes him.   It’s who he is and what he does.  But what does that make the press?

  5. Giampaolo Bazzini says:

    I cancelled my subscription to The New York Times recently after it became obvious that the paper was trading on reflux-O-lalia of the administration — Maggie & Mike, this is about YOU — and thereby negating much of the hard work it was doing journalistically. Dean needs to smarten up, quick-like.

  6. Barry says:

    I remain stymied by Whitaker’s appointment, especially after it has been given a stamp of approval by DOJ leadership. Unless the Supreme Court prohibits his oversight of the Mueller investigation, and that’s at least 1/9th less likely now with Kavanaugh onboard, I think the whole question of a presidential subpoena is over. Whitaker won’t approve it, and that will be that. Who’s going to say otherwise? The question I have is what is to stop Whitaker from doing more than this. Who or what is to stop him from doing the job for which he was hired which is to de-fang the Mueller investigation going forward without actually firing him? What must be acknowledged is that Trump has done an astoundingly successful job – more successful than anyone ever imagined possible –  of sustaining the support of a very large majority of Republicans voters. ( Something Nixon failed to do.)  As a result, Republican politicians have only two viable choices: support the President or announce their retirement. By never leaving his uniquely hostile and bombastic primary campaign mode, by never pivoting to the middle in the general, by refusing all counsel to become more presidential once elected, Trump has accomplished what all political pros said couldn’t be done. And now, even while he is President of the fricking United States (!), he sustains the appearance of the angry and courageous Victim-in-Chief, and all those Republicans voters who themselves feel victimized and aggrieved by economic and cultural changes continue to stand behind him, and they will continue to stand behind him, seemingly unto death. Will investigations by the Dem House change this reality? No, why would it? Who cares what “traitors” and “enemies of the people” say or think? Would a coordinated resignation of top DOJ officials be enough to alter this reality? No, why would it?  Remember, these professionally respected Republican appointees have already been morphed into Deep State, Hillary-loving, Angry Democrats. So Trump’s boast, that we took to be metaphoric, that he could shoot someone on 5th Ave and get away with it, may not actually be metaphoric. If Trump “beat the Secret Service to the draw” with a legally concealed weapon and shot some screaming and threatening Hater who managed to approach him, it could be spun to his supporters as a totally legitimate case of”standing his ground”.  Would Mitch McConnell & Friends object? No, why would they? ( I agree I am over-reaching here, but are we sure I am?)

    So, yes,  I’m pretty demoralized. I’d love someone here to help me believe that even under Whitaker’s authority, Mueller can continue to do his job. And one technical question that I’d be interested in understanding  is what exactly is a “sealed indictment”. I gather it mean it has already been submitted to the court but is being held in some kind of legal suspended animation and that the indictees are also unaware of their indictment. If so, what might be the strategic purposes of sealed indictments? And could the government, under Whitaker’s direction, pull them back “for further review”.

    • Avattoir says:

      I wouldn’t be so sure, particularly on Thomas, or the CJ, or even Kavanaugh. Thomas has been up there a LONG time now and there’s a LOT of support for the challengers’ position on the Whitaker question in his body of opinions. CJ’s a disturbingly weak dude but still largely an institutionalist, he’s sure not shown the inclination to help out Toad – Republicanism, sure, but not nihilism.

      And while there’s absolutely no reason to trust Kavanagh as the typical woman could toss him, he chose to carve out administrative law as his special path to getting to where he now sits, and a whole lot of orthodox Federalist Society analysis in that area, besides being stuff he himself wrote, does at least show some incline towards bending their originalist bullshit to classically republican checks and balances thinking. I mean, it’s most transparently horse shit and authoritarianism is the ultimate goal, but now that he’s actually got the frickin’ prize, he’s sure not above using Toad to back-fill his ‘legitimacy’.

  7. Trip says:

    Brexit buds, Farage and Rohrbacher fishing:

    Carole Cadwalladr‏Verified account @carolecadwalla

    Rats. I’ve just learned that @ObserverUK can’t legally publish this photo of @nigel_farage with the man known as “Putin’s favourite congressman”. Because “Putin’s favourite congressman” deleted it after I tweeted this. Shame to waste it though..

  8. Arch Man says:

    A hypothetical question for EW and all of you law types: The thinking is that Mueller won’t indict Trump for the collusion/conspiracy regarding the 2016 election. But what if Mueller finds evidence that the collusion/conspiracy is ongoing? To present day? Considering Trump’s history with Russian money and his fawning over Putin it truly seems like Trump is afraid of Putin and may, in fact, be doing his bidding presently and acting against the interests of the USA. Does that change the calculus on whether or not a sitting president gets indicted?

  9. greengiant says:

    Quite the Trump 2016 Nexus, Assange, Rohrabacher, Farage, NRA, Chuck Johnson, Roger Stone, Stuart Jolly National Field Directory during Michigan primary campaign.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Regarding the latest hoopla, that between Trump and McRaven, the discussion has been that top political and military leaders work with Trump because, as one MSNBC commentator put it, they stay out of honor, citing an ancient source, “If not us, who, if not now, when?”

    I think that does a disservice to the source of that quote.  It avoids answering the question. Why anyone would want to make a pathological personality like Trump more effective? If he refuses your advice and acts on his own worst impulses, what are these leaders protecting?

    Trump is incapable of accepting good advice.  Learning frightens him, so he remains intensely ignorant. One cannot appeal to facts and logic, only to Trump’s own personal interests. That severely limits everyone’s ability to protect or promote the good.

    Moreover, Trump cannot restrain his worst impulses or fail to blame others.  Unity, the good, the honorable terrify him, so he understands them as the attributes of losers and the weak.  Trump promotes behavior he finds most familiar: lying, cheating, dividing. He appeals to his own worst instincts in hopes of appealing to the worst instincts in others.  That is where he is at home.

    Would it not be better to isolate this destructive pathological man, to expose rather than protect him, to make him less effective and therefore less able to harm others?

  11. Rusharuse says:

    Trump he jus big old tedda baar
    – – – – –
    Chris Wallace falls for the psychopath:
    “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen as big a difference between somebody’s public and private personae as I have with President Trump,” he said. “He is thoughtful, asks questions about you, and is very pleasant to be around. On a personal level, I kind of like him.”

    • Trip says:

      Chris Wallace works for Fox “News”. Occasionally, he asks journalist-type questions just to keep the ruse going.

    • Micharl says:

      Rump’s coming off as nice sometimes is merely ad hoc mind fucking. He and certain real politicians have that in common.

  12. Taxidermist says:

    @ earl 4:23

    After reading Fear: Trump in the White House, I lean towards believing that a good number of his people stick around to prevent him from launching us into a nuclear war, and to slow down the catastrophic policy decisions being pushed by slimeballs like Stephen Miller or Bannon.
    Are they all awful? Absolutely! But I was shocked reading about the large number of people in his cabinet that orchestrated systems to prevent djt from taking action.
    At least this is what I tell myself when faced with the alternative, that every one of them are sociopaths and we’re all fucked.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      When the less destructive people in an organization spend so much of their time corrupting the system to prevent the chief executive from doing even more damage, its usually time to change the CEO. 

      Keeping him going ignores that problem while creating many others. It quickly becomes a change the oil or change the engine problem. These GOP actors – to protect themselves and the GOP as much as to protect the country from Trump – keep driving at high speed, trying not to hit the roadblocks they’ve put in place to slow down Trump. How’s that working out?

    • BobCon says:

      It’s worth adding that Woodward’s basic method is to offer soft coverage to sources in return for dirt on other targets. Another facet is that he always presents a unified narrative, which is simply impossible to justify given the shallowness and bias of his sources.

      Which is to say that I certainly believe people in the White House work to tamp down Trump’s crazier impulses, but that doesn’t rule out that the alternative you suggest is also true. It’s just a question of which crazy impulses they agree with and which ones they find distasteful.

  13. Trip says:

    …The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

    ~ Abraham Lincoln, this day, November 19th, 1863 at Gettysburg.

  14. Reader 21 says:

    Excellent post. But I can no longer chalk up the Mike and Maggie show to gullibility alone—during 2015-2016 Maggie wrote of Clinton’s emails and/or Benghazi 92 times. During the same timeframe, she saw fit to inform her readers of Toad’s long-standing and notorious mafia ties —zero times. 92–0. That’s not even a Nebraska football score, let alone honest reporting. That’s just not a coincidence, and nor can it be attributed to gullibility alone. It is bothsiderism that’d make even Dean Broder blush (again, zero times).

  15. Trip says:

    Proud Boys Founder, who the NYT described as Mr. McInnes, the founder of the Proud Boys and a former Brooklyn hipster turned far-right provocateur.

    Avi Bueno‏ @AviAhvee

    Trump’s administration has looked to denaturalize people who’ve been in the US peacefully & productively for years, yet Gavin McInnes is given a pass while being violent, inciting violence, & founding a gang the FBI has now labeled an extremist group. No more. #DeportGavin

    Caroline Orr‏ @RVAwonk

    So Gavin McInnes came to the US, started a violent extremist gang, advocated for violence, participated in said violence, and is still in the US on a Green Card. I think it’s past time to #DeportGavin before he can inflict further damage.

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