It Is Objectively False that Trump Provided Unprecedented Cooperation; Stop Parroting Rudy Claiming He Did

If a President makes an expansive new claim to Executive Privilege and the press reports the opposite, did it really happen?

That’s a question presented by the coverage of yesterday’s news that after a year of resistance, President Trump finally provided the answers to his open book test to Mueller. That’s because a slew of journalists repeated Rudy Giuliani’s claim, made in his official statement, that Trump has provided “unprecedented cooperation” with Mueller’s team, without noting that the claim is objectively false.

I showed back in February — when the press first started parroting this claim credulously, which was first made by John Dowd — that it was not true.

A simple comparison of the Bush White House’s cooperation the CIA leak case, which investigated events that occurred in a more narrow period two month period of time, showed Dowd’s claim about cooperation on discovery and witnesses was overblown.

More importantly, a key detail distinguished George W Bush’s cooperation from Trump’s: Bush sat for an interview with Patrick Fitzgerald and answered questions about the orders he gave, while President, to at least one of his Assistants and the Vice President about an exclusive executive authority, declassification.

Bush sat for an interview in June 2004, and Cheney — who himself made some grossly false statements in his tenure — sat for one in May 2004 and a little-known follow-up that August. According to Cheney’s autobiography, “[T]he second session was conducted under oath so that [his] testimony could be submitted to the grand jury.”

[snip]

[Randall] Samborn, the Fitzgerald spokesperson who was famously reticent during the whole CIA leak investigation, offered an expansive rebuttal to Dowd’s claim that this White House has offered unprecedented cooperation. “Trump’s team can claim all the cooperation it wants, and whether justifiably so or not, it seems to me that it all gets negated, if at the end, he personally refuses to be questioned when so much substance depends on what he knew and did, as well as his state of mind.”

Any refusal to sit for an interview, Samborn said, was central evaluating the level of cooperation.

“That’s sort of the ultimate in noncooperation,” he explained, “especially after saying he looks forward to being interviewed and under oath.”

By limiting his cooperation to an open book test, Trump has stopped far short of the cooperation Bush offered.

And yet, because Rudy included the claim in the statement he released to the press, many news outlets are repeating that false claim, uncontested. The outlets that subscribe to the AP feed are propagating false claim today, because Eric Tucker repeated that line from Rudy’s statement with no correction to it.  Unsurprisingly, Fox News parroted Rudy. But so did some more credible outlets, like NBC, ABC, CNN, and Reuters. Even the WaPo’s otherwise superb report from Carol Leonnig and Robert Costa repeated the claim in the last line of their story.

NYT’s Maggie and Mike, incidentally, avoided repeating Rudy’s claim, choosing to include the part of his statement that provided quasi-factual numbers, but leaving out the superlative claim.

It’s bad enough that most of the press has repeated Rudy and Dowd’s claim uncritically since January. But for yesterday’s stories, it is all the more important to get it right. That’s because Trump is not just refusing to answer questions on Mueller’s obstruction investigation, he’s also refusing to answer questions about the transition period, before any claim of Executive Privilege should kick in. While that’s consistent with what Trump did with Hope Hicks’ and Corey Lewandowski’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, it nevertheless represents an expansion of accepted claims to executive power.

The emphasis, here, should be on Trump’s claim to be above the law even before he took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution.

Instead, a bunch of copy and paste journalism has made it the opposite.

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17 replies
  1. Willis Warren says:

    This makes me believe the sealed subpoena challenge is an executive order contest, since those dipshits around trump can’t seem to help but repeat the same shit over and over.

    • Kai-Lee says:

      Agreed!

      Of course, we wait, presumably, for eventual referral to the Kavanoo Supreme Court of this and other questions. Will he hold sway over his conservative peers with his extreme notions of “executive privilege”? Trump is just itching to send as many referrals as he can to that sympathetic body.

  2. Trip says:

    Fucking PT Barnum stenographers. “The greatest show on earth”.

    …As it was “generally understood,” Barnum wrote in the book, the term humbug “consists in putting on glittering appearances—outside show—novel expedients, by which to suddenly arrest public attention, and attract the public eye and ear.” And Barnum wanted to make it clear such a practice was justified. “[T]here are various trades and occupations which need only notoriety to insure success,” he claimed, concluding no harm, no foul, so long as at the end of the day customers felt like they got their money’s worth…“Contrary to popular belief,” as Boorstin wrote, “Barnum’s great discovery was not how easy it was to deceive the public, but rather, how much the public enjoyed being deceived….But if you’re looking clear eyed at Barnum, an undeniable fact of his biography is his role marketing racism to the masses. “He had these new ways of making racism seem fun and for people to engage in activities that degraded a racially subjected person in ways that were intimate and funny and surprising and novel,” says Reiss. “That’s part of his legacy, that’s part of what he left us, just as he also left us some really great jokes and circus acts and this kind of charming, wise-cracking ‘America’s uncle’ reputation. This is equally a part of his legacy.” https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/true-story-pt-barnum-greatest-humbug-them-all-180967634/

  3. Bay State Librul says:

    Rudy lost his mind years ago. He is one pathetic mouthpiece.

    When truth is buried underground it grows, it chokes, it gathers such an explosive force that on the day it bursts out, it blows up everything with it.”
    ― Émile Zola

    Tick Tock

  4. Concerned Citizen says:

    President Donald Trump on Tuesday, November 20, submitted written answers to questions from special counsel Robert Mueller related to the investigation of possible collusion between Trump associates and Russians.  On that day, one of Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Guiliani, provided a statement to the press saying that “… much of what has been asked raised serious constitutional issues and was beyond the scope of a legitimate inquiry.”  CNN reported the event in more detail stating, “Trump and his legal team balked at some of the questions from Mueller that covered the presidential transition and Trump’s time in the White House, believing those could be off limits due to executive privilege”.
    Assuming CNN’s statement is correct, then Donald Trump is claiming executive privilege to avoid answering Mueller’s questions about events occurring during the presidential transition period, which is the time between election day, November 8, 2016, and inauguration day, January 20, 2017.  During this period many events happened that relate to the topic of Trump’s collusion with Russia, including Michael Flynn’s discussions of dropping sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in return for Trump receiving a 19.5% commission of $500 million dollars from Russia for the sale of Rosneft stock to Qatar. 
    The interesting thing about Trump’s claim of executive privilege for events happening during the transition period is that he was not the president at this time.  The Constitution only recognizes one president of the United States at any time, who during the Trump transition period, was Barack Obama.  During this time Trump was only an American citizen just like every other American citizen, who had no special privileges according to the Constitution.  Trump’s assertion of executive privilege during this time period implies that he believes he was in a special position equivalent to the president of the United States.  This is precisely what made him feel that his collusion with Russia was legitimate; namely, that he could negotiate sanction relief with Russia in return for a commission on the sale of Rosneft stock.  He felt that in this negotiation he was equal to Obama, or even superior Obama, because he had been elected president and would become the acting president for the next four years.  He believed that his presidency started on November 8, 2016, and not on January 20, 2017.  But the Constitution is clear that the president of the United States remains the only president of the United States until the new president is sworn in on inauguration day following an election. In the meantime, there is no other president.  So no other United States citizen can claim executive privilege during this time. 

  5. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Rudy…Rudy…Rudy…

    No longer just a noun, a verb and 9-11, Rudy’s epitaph on his Mar-a-Lago headstone will be:

    Rudy Giuliani, a Shit Stormer in the Dumpster Fire that was the Trump Administration.

    He will be remembered chiefly, as so many others, for his loyal service to the worst president in the history of the United States of America.

    R.I.P. Rudy…

  6. Frank Probst says:

    Has anyone in any of their reporting stated that they at least ASKED for a copy of the answers (and the questions along with them) that Trump sent in to Mueller?  I know that no one expects to actually get a copy, but someone should use the old “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear.” argument and request copies for the media.  Trump says he wrote the answers himself, and they were easy to answer.  No one seriously believes him, but why not play along for a little bit and ask to see Trump beautiful answers?  The best answers!  I mean, I kind of want to see these amazing answers for myself.  Will somebody please ask for them?

    • SC says:

      ” . . .  at least ASKED for a copy . . . ”

      In addition to saying “We asked for copies of the questions and answers and did not receive either.” reporters covering the story should make it clear that _all_ of the details about the content come from Trump and his lawyers. I just dug through a dozen or so recent stories about Trump turning in his questions and not one said “We asked for copies.” (No doubt I missed some stories that say “We asked.” but, at a glance, none of the mainstream articles do.) Also, most stories include some indication of the content with sentences like “A few of the questions focused on Trump’s longtime politically ally, Roger Stone, though those questions did not dominate.” and all of that presumably came from Trump’s lawyers. (https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-trump-submits-written-responses-special-counsel-robert/story?id=59315316)

      Most of the stories, like that ABC one, suggest that knowledge of the content of the questions came from Trump or his lawyers but they don’t spell it out. This sentence is included early in most of the articles “The Special Counsel’s office did not comment.” but, doh, they really should spell it out. IMO.

  7. Barry says:

    It seems to me that the linchpin of this entire investigation now rests in what powers Whitaker is able to assume.  The OLC has determined that Whitaker’s appointment as Acting AG is legal. This is a big deal since it’s a credible contradiction to the Katyal/Conway argument and now stands as the official DOJ view. As such, if the Supreme Court wishes to and can avoid wading into this political minefield, the default opinion will be that of the OLC.  If Whitaker is legally appointed as Acting AG, then I hear others saying he might still not be in charge of the Mueller investigation – though I’m not clear why or how that would be absent a decision by Whitaker to recuse himself. ( Chance of that? Zero. ) Are there legal grounds other than recusal whereby Whitaker could not assume full authority over the investigation? If not, I have to assume he will not be shy about forcefully asserting himself. He won’t want to commit a crime, but anything short of that…  And if Mueller is a loyal soldier, which I’ve read this brilliant ex-marine has always been, then I think it’s likely that he will feel obliged to accept any legal prosecutorial decisions made by his duly appointed boss even if he and his team strongly disagree. Adding this all up, I think it’s more than likely a done deal that there will be no presidential subpoena and no follow-up to the inadequate answers I assume Trump provided to the open book test. It galls me if this is so, but I really think that’s the way it is. As for Whitaker’s ability and willingness to interfere with any sealed or future indictments – I have no idea. But I have to assume he will do everything humanly possible to keep Jr. safe. Stone’s a big boy, and loyal, so he needs less protection before getting a down the road pardon. This is how it looks to me. Hope I’m wrong.

  8. BigSky says:

    I just want to know how Rudy is credited with the take down of the 5 Families? As I watch now, I wonder was he always this way, but a clever PR campaign made it seem like he was a genius in prosecuting organized crime. Did he get sucked into to the propaganda and his ego swelled as a result?? I am not a New Yorker – so I am curious. Is this the descent of a once decent man, corrupted by power and circumstance of becoming “America’s Mayor”? Or was he just always this clownish and corrupt, and its just harder to cover it up? I am not being snarky – I really am curious. I’ve seen him do interviews for TV shows about the mob in the 70’s and 80’s and he comes across as a competent attorney and a decent guy. However, I am savvy enough to know that there is a difference between a politicians public persona and who they really are.

  9. A geezer says:

    The press can choose to continue to be complicit or band together and
    a) not cover ‘press conferences’ or presidential utterance live. Edit ‘em for facts.
    b) coordinate questioning when in front of Sarah and Pres. Let next chosen reporter follow up on previous unanswered questions. Give your time to a reporter who has a better line of inquiry. Cooperate !

  10. SpaceLifeForm says:

    s/before any claim of Executive Privilege should kick in/before any claim of Executive Privilege could kick in/

    Btw, I’m still not convinced that Sessions is not AG.

    Suspect Justice Roberts may agree.

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