Imagine If Maggie Had Reported that Vladimir Putin Dictated Trump’s June 9 Meeting Cover Story?

Imagine how much differently things might have worked out if, on July 19, 2017 Maggie Haberman had reported that Vladimir Putin had dictated the statement Trump had his failson release, excusing the meeting Don Jr had to collect Russian dirt in exchange for lifting the Magnitsky sanctions?

It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.

I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.

As you contemplate that, consider how Trump’s various means of withholding the documents he stole serve as a metaphor for how he covers up his own criminal exposure.

At first, Trump stonewalled, refusing to cooperate at all. Then, he got some of his aides to privately tell lies on his behalf. But then, when that looked like it wouldn’t work any more, he  packed boxes himself, personally curating the first limited hangout for the Archives. In January, Trump delivered 15 boxes — nine fewer than NARA knew he had taken, but three more (Maggie is the only one who cares about this) than he had told NARA he’d deliver. When NARA opened the boxes that Trump had curated personally, they found some, but not all, of what they were expecting. Hidden amidst, “newspapers, magazines, printed news articles,” they also found “a lot of classified records.” This expert liar believed he could fool professional archivists by hiding the evidence of his crime behind a curtain of press clippings.

At this point, Trump started lying publicly, both by releasing statements designed to go viral on social media falsely claiming to have cooperated, and in the public claims that Kash Patel made that were broader than the set of Russian documents Trump did or attempted to steal, but which were primarily about that story.

Trump had to find new people to lie for him, which he did in the form of a far less qualified legal team. Trump had that less qualified legal team try to bully DOJ legally, claiming that he couldn’t be charged with the single crime he wanted applied to his criminal behavior. When all that failed to stave off DOJ, Trump curated another story, having boxes removed from the storage room, having one of the new, less-qualified lawyers search through what was left and discover another limited hangout of documents to return, and getting another of the less-qualified lawyers to certify that’s the end of the story, all without letting investigators actually check what actually lay behind that search.

This time it was DOJ that knew better than to believe the series of cover stories the reality TV show star kept telling, and so they quietly put together a search of the beach resort, seizing another 27 boxes of government records, yielding 18 more boxes than NARA even knew about. It’s not clear Trump would have revealed the search, at all, if Peter Schorsch — not one of the national journalists paid handsomely as a full time Trump-whisperer, but instead a local reporter — hadn’t revealed it. (There’s no evidence Trump ever told the Trump-whisperers about this investigation before the search, and most have not credited Schorsch’s role in the process, perhaps to obscure that there was news about Trump accessible without Trump offering it up.) Then, via a statement, via preferential leaks to journalists, via misleading legal filings, Trump repeated the process again, claiming different laws applied and distracting with details — like the fucking lock he claimed DOJ told him to put on his storage closet — largely irrelevant to the crimes actually at issue.

When Trump gets in trouble, the showman curates stories to distract from his real legal woes, obscuring the real legal jeopardy he faces, while distracting the crowd with a blizzard of stories serially revealing tidbits that are distractions from the real story.

That’s how it happens that, five months after Kash Patel publicly used the Russian investigation documents Trump tried to release in the last hours of his Administration as an alibi for stealing other documents, Maggie and Mike have gotten the chattering classes worked up over something related to that cover story that Trump did not do: offer the government to return documents unrelated to Russia if the government would let him burn more sources and methods relating to Russia.

Late last year, as the National Archives ratcheted up the pressure on former President Donald J. Trump to return boxes of records he had taken from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago club, he came up with an idea to resolve the looming showdown: cut a deal.

Mr. Trump, still determined to show he had been wronged by the F.B.I. investigation into his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia, was angry with the National Archives and Records Administration for its unwillingness to hand over a batch of sensitive documents that he thought proved his claims.


It was around that same time that Mr. Trump floated the idea of offering the deal to return the boxes in exchange for documents he believed would expose the Russia investigation as a “hoax” cooked up by the F.B.I. Mr. Trump did not appear to know specifically what he thought the archives had — only that there were items he wanted.

Mr. Trump’s aides — recognizing that such a swap would be a non-starter since the government had a clear right to the material Mr. Trump had taken from the White House and the Russia-related documents held by the archives remained marked as classified — never acted on the idea.

Maggie and Mike published this story one day after ABC published a story describing the very specific set of documents Trump had spent his last days in office trying to publicly release. Even the ABC story, which reveals, “White House staffers produced multiple copies of documents from the binder,” misses key parts of the story — including why a document John Solomon claims to have obtained in June has a September 2021 creation date. But it nevertheless makes clear that the Russian documents are more central to the stolen document story than either of the two versions Maggie has told admit.

And yet that misleading Russia tidbit distracted from more important details. Buried in the story was the detail that Alex Cannon, a lawyer who negotiated with the Archives late last year, was worried that Trump was withholding documents responsive to subpoenas from the January 6 Committee. This was a detail Paul Sperry publicly floated on August 16. It comes in the wake of the filter inventory accidentally docketed that shows the FBI seized at least three items pertinent to the known January 6 investigations. In a piece reporting, possibly for the first time, that Trump may have withheld documents to obstruct other investigations, Maggie and Mike (purveyors of the false claim that Mueller primarily investigated Trump for obstruction) describe DOJ’s investigation into violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction this way, as if poor Donald Trump and those paid to lie for him were just innocent bystanders in all this.

In the process, some of his lawyers have increased their own legal exposure and had to hire lawyers themselves. Mr. Trump has ended up in the middle of an investigation into his handling of the documents that has led the Justice Department to seek evidence of obstruction.

The more important point is that rather than focusing on Cannon’s concerns that Trump was obstructing the January 6 investigation (or even that he suspected Trump was hoarding classified records but didn’t tell NARA that), Maggie and Mike focus on the deal that Trump never formally pitched, trading one set of classified documents for the classified documents describing sources and methods Trump wanted to burn.

This detail, in a story describing the lies Trump has told to cover up his stolen documents, is pure distraction, a side-show to the evidence of criminal behavior that matters. But nevertheless, the sheer audacity of it has gone viral, distracting from the real evidence of criminal intent or even the ABC report that at least substantiates the real ties between the Russian documents and the documents Trump was hoarding.

As noted in the ABC report, this is actually the second limited hangout about the Russian documents that Maggie spread. The first — part of her book campaign — is that Trump was sitting on copies of the Strzok and Page texts.

(In one of our earlier interviews, I had asked him separately about some of the texts between the FBI agent and the FBI official working on the Robert Mueller investigation whose affair prompted the agent’s removal from the case; we had learned the night before Biden’s inauguration that Trump was planning to make the texts public. He ultimately didn’t, but he told me that Meadows had the material in his possession and offered to connect me with him.)

This is the basis on which many people have claimed that Maggie withheld the story that Trump had stolen documents. But it’s actually not. It’s a limited hangout suggesting (John Solomon’s public statements that Trump would release everything notwithstanding) that Trump had only taken home the Strzok-Page texts, and not also a bunch of documents describing sensitive human sources and SIGINT collection points. Maggie has also claimed that Trump’s DOJ advised against releasing the texts because it would constitute another violation of the Privacy Act, without explaining why, then, Trump’s DOJ itself had done just that in September 2020.

Once again, it’s another less damning story rather than the more damning one for which there is just as much evidence. If Trump (or Mark Meadows) stole a copy of the Strzok and Page texts, it would be a violation of the Presidential Records Act and the Privacy Act, but not a violation of the Espionage Act or (if they stole a copy of the unredacted Carter Page application) FISA.

With Saturday’s story, which purports to share with readers how Trump “exhibited a pattern of dissembling,” Maggie and Mike either don’t understand this this story is just another press clipping that Trump is hiding the real criminal evidence behind, or are having a great big laugh at how stupid their readers are, making this non-story about something Trump didn’t do go viral whereas more factual details go unnoticed.

Which makes it very much like the story Maggie and Mike published, along with Peter Baker, on July 19, 2017. The story was based on an interview all three did that same day, one day after other journalists disclosed a second meeting between Putin and Trump, without a US translator, which lasted as long as an hour. The interview happened on the same day — the Mueller Report notes —  that Trump renewed his request to Corey Lewnadowski to order the Attorney General to limit the Russian investigation to prospective election tampering.

On July 19, 2017, the President again met with Lewandowski alone in the Oval Office.621 In the preceding days, as described in Volume II, Section II.G, infra, emails and other information about the June 9, 2016 meeting between several Russians and Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort had been publicly disclosed. In the July 19 meeting with Lewandowski, the President raised his previous request and asked if Lewandowski had talked to Sessions.622 Lewandowski told the President that the message would be delivered soon.623 Lewandowski recalled that the President told him that if Sessions did not meet with him, Lewandowski should tell Sessions he was fired.624


Within hours of the President’s meeting with Lewandowski on July 19, 2017, the President gave an unplanned interview to the New York Times in which he criticized Sessions’s decision to recuse from the Russia investigation.630 The President said that “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.”631 Sessions’s recusal, the President said, was “very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president.”632 Hicks, who was present for the interview, recalled trying to “throw [herself] between the reporters and [the President]” to stop parts of the interview, but the President “loved the interview.”633

Later that day, Lewandowski met with Hicks and they discussed the President’s New York Times interview.634 Lewandowski recalled telling Hicks about the President’s request that he meet with Sessions and joking with her about the idea of firing Sessions as a private citizen if Sessions would not meet with him.635 As Hicks remembered the conversation, Lewandowski told her the President had recently asked him to meet with Sessions and deliver a message that he needed to do the “right thing” and resign.636 While Hicks and Lewandowski were together, the President called Hicks and told her he was happy with how coverage of his New York Times interview criticizing Sessions was playing out.637

The NYT article that resulted from the interview with Trump reported the following, in order:

  • Trump’s claim he never would have hired Jeff Sessions if he knew he would recuse from an investigation Trump didn’t know about yet
  • Trump’s complaint that Sessions’ recusal led to Mueller’s hiring
  • Details about the interview
  • Trump’s false claims that Mueller had conflicts
  • The “red line” comment that Maggie and Mike would henceforward use to say Mueller could not investigate Trump’s finances
  • Trump’s claim that he was not under investigation even though there were public reports he was being investigated for obstruction
  • A description of Trump’s claim only to have spoken with Putin for 15 minutes, mostly about “pleasantries, but also “about adoption” [without explaining that “adoption” is code for Magnitsky sanctions]
  • Trump’s description that “his son, Donald Trump Jr., said that was the topic of a meeting he had” on June 9, 2016 (days earlier, Maggie and Peter had reported Trump had been involved in that statement)
  • Trump’s claim that he didn’t need the dirt on Hillary because he had other dirt
  • More discussion about the interview again
  • Descriptions of Trump’s “amiable side,” including his story of holding hands with Macron and — this was described as amiable! — his hopes for a military parade in DC
  • A description of Trump’s interactions with his then 6-year old grand-daughter
  • More about how angry he was with Sessions
  • Quotes from Trump attacking Sessions for recusing
  • Attacks on Sessions’ confirmation testimony about Sergey Kislyak
  • A no-comment from Sessions
  • A claim that Jim Comey had briefed the Steele dossier in an attempt to keep his job
  • Trump’s claim he dismissed the claims in the dossier
  • A no-comment from Comey
  • An explanation of why Trump’s briefers had briefed the dossier
  • Trump’s claim that Comey’s sworn testimony about the February 14 meeting was false
  • Trump’s boasts that he did the right thing by firing Comey
  • A return to his claims that Mueller had conflicts
  • Trump’s claim that he didn’t know that Deputy Attorney General he himself had appointed was from Baltimore
  • A claim Rosenstein had a conflict of interest with Mueller
  • A citation to a Fox interview where Rosenstein said Mueller could avoid conflicts
  • Trump’s claims that Andrew McCabe had conflicts because of the donation Terry McAuliffe gave to McCabe’s spouse
  • A return to the discussion with Putin, including quoting his comment about adoption
  • Trump’s claim that he did not know of the June 9 meeting in real time
  • Trump’s false claim he didn’t need (much less seek out) more dirt on Hillary because he had everything he could need

Most journalists would have taken that detail — that Trump and Putin had used an unmonitored face-to-face meeting to talk about the subject of a burgeoning scandal at the center of the investigation of Russian interference in the election — and dedicated an entire story to it. They likely would have included an explanation that “adoptions” was code for sanctions relief. They probably would have noted how Trump’s claims about the conversation differed from the public reports about it, particularly with regards the claimed length.

Journalists who — as Maggie and Baker had — reported, just days earlier, that Trump had “signed off on the statement,” might cycle back to sources for that story and lay out the possibility — confirmed by Mueller years later — that after Trump discussed adoptions with the President of Russia, he in fact dictated a misleading story about the things he had just discussed with Putin, over his son’s and Hope Hick’s wishes to get the entire story out.

Imagine how that story, that after discussing the topic with Putin, Trump dictated a misleading story, would have changed the direction of the Russian investigation.

But that’s not the story that Maggie and Mike and Peter told. On the contrary, they buried their lede — the smoking gun that Trump had “colluded” with the President of Russia on a cover story — and instead focused the story where Trump wanted it: on pressuring Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein for allowing the appointment of a Special Counsel, on ending the investigation in which they had just revealed a smoking gun. As Mueller explained,  Trump “was happy with how coverage of his New York Times interview criticizing Sessions was playing out.” It buried really damning half-admissions inside an article that primarily served his obstructive purpose (and disseminated a number of lies with limited push-back).

When Trump wanted to obstruct the Russian investigation on July 19, 2017, Maggie proved a more reliable partner than Corey Lewandowski.

That continued throughout the investigation, in which Maggie consistently misled her credulous readers that Mueller only investigated Trump for obstruction, neutralized one of the most damning revelations of the investigation providing Paul Manafort’s provided campaign strategy to Oleg Deripaska, ignored all the most damning details of her old friend Roger Stone, as well as the investigation into a suspected bribe via an Egyptian bank that kept Trump’s campaign afloat in September 2016.

A vast majority of the country believes that Mueller only investigated Trump for obstruction, and Maggie is a big reason why that’s true. And that mistaken belief is one of the reasons the aftermath of the Mueller investigation — with Bill Barr’s sabotage of multiple ongoing criminal investigation and the pardons for four of the five Trump aides who lied to cover up their ties with Russia — proceeded without bigger outcry.

And yet still, five years later, people don’t understand that Maggie successfully led them to believe a false, far less damning story of Trump’s exposure in the Russian investigation, that he was only investigated for the obstruction she was a part of, and not for doing things that led him to directly coordinate cover stories with Vladimir Putin before he dictated the story Putin wanted told.

The problem with Maggie’s memoir of her access to Donald Trump is not that she withheld details Trump told her as she pursued the least legally problematic part of the Russian document cover story for Trump’s stolen documents. It’s that people still think all of this is news, rather than a distraction from the real criminal exposure that — history proves — Trump’s transactional relationship with Maggie serves to cover-up.

When Trump attempts to cover up his crimes, he literally buries the evidence under stacks of press clippings. And those press clippings are, often as not, distractions he has fed (directly or indirectly) to Maggie to tell.

176 replies
  1. MissyDC says:

    I once heard It described as Trump has no problem looking like a fool if the end game is bigger. He doesn’t mind being seen as a serial bankrupter if he can launder 10x that.

  2. Ben Soares says:

    Indeed. It seems.

    Maggie Haberman seems to suffer from Roger Stones theory of ” the press being – inherently lazy” imho

    …. seems as though her life’s work will be viewed as such . She seems better suited for Sports reporting. Sporting folks make keeping the score job one – her fluff would be less consequential..

    • emptywheel says:

      Maggie is in no way lazy. She’s incredibly hard working. It’s just that, at least, her goal is scoops, which makes her easy to manipulate.

      • Peterr says:

        As I watched several of her book tour interviews, it was clear that she also has a vision of journalism that refuses to name a lie a lie. Paraphrasing here, she refused to address various questions posed to her, with some version of “My job it to report the facts, not to tell you what they mean” as her excuse.

        This only adds to the ability of folks like Trump to manipulate her and journalists like her.

        • MB says:

          I guess the mistake that gets made so often is the failure to realize that facts are not value-free. And in a tortuous effort to avoid being seen expressing an opinion, facts are artificially divorced from their obvious implications. And there’s also a kind of willful disregard exercised in distinguishing between fact-based opinions and emotion-based opinions.

        • Rugger9 says:

          One of the harder concepts to grasp by students was that the decision to do nothing was still a decision that had consequences.

          The courtier press values access above all, and so the GQP and its allies leverage that into favorable treatment. However, for low-information voters the inability of the courtier press to use the word “lie” means acceptance of the claim by the news organization as fact. I also wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the go-to excuse becomes one of legal liability for defamation suits. If only the truth was a definitive defense against defamation claims … oh, yeah it is (ask Randi Rhodes).

        • MB says:

          Are you referring to Randi’s Air America show which was cancelled due to objections to the content of her standup act? Or something else?

          I have mixed emotions about the sheer volume of book-plugging that takes place on cable TV news segments. Some books are more worthy than others (I’m thinking of recent books by David Corn and Dahlia Lithwick as compared to Maggie’s book), but the infrastructure for book promotion seems to be well-entrenched for all the authors who have publisher money behind them for book tours. I think producers prep their anchors very well to pretend that they’ve read all the books for the authors they interview in the promotion segments.

          Had a laugh the other day when Ali Velshi interviewed Dahlia Lithwick and admitted that he hadn’t yet had time to read her book – yet they managed to have a substantive discussion anyway…a rare bit of candor.

        • bmaz says:

          Dahlia is a good friend, and I intend to do a review of “Lady Justice”. But, like Velshi, I have not yet read it. Knew it was coming out for a long time. I too could do it without reading it, but have too much respect for Dahlia to do that.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Rhodes had been sued by someone she’d hammered on her show (Air America isn’t the only self-inflicted rubble in her career) but Rhodes prevailed when it was found she told the truth.

          So, it’s not really about the messenger here, but that if the courtier press would understand that telling the truth is the best policy we’d be better off.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          “Facts” are never context free. Maggie just has a self-serving view of what context matters, which often obscures the meaning her readers are supposed to divine from the limited context she offers.

          That’s not a matter of not knowing how journalism works. That’s working the ref.

        • ADDISONinHELL says:

          I thought I remembered her calling Hillary a liar with no compunction whatsoever.

          [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. At least I assume that’s what you’ve done leaving “Addison” behind. /~Rayne]

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          You remember correctly. In 2017 Haberman tweeted (notoriously) about how the Clinton campaign had “sanctimoniously” lied about funding the Steele dossier, which wasn’t true and left out critical context: Republicans funded it initially, and Trump lied about everything without Haberman seeing the need to call it out in similar fashion.

        • klynn says:

          So she will go with “who, what, when,” and sequence those elements to create a specific narrative and then avoid or limit the “why and to what extent,” to cement propagandistic goals?

      • AgainBrain says:

        Not sure I’m willing to buy the level of manipulation received, and lack of critical self-evaluation of manipulation required for her unwilling participation. At some point, willing, fully-aware, _retained_ participation has to also be on the table, no?

        • Christenson says:

          Willing, I’ll buy. Fully aware and on retainer, I think, underestimates the moral blindness that comes with the sort of very positive feedback loop she has been in… famous, hobnobbing with the rich and famous, a lucrative bestseller, and undoubtedly positive feedback from NYT managment, as she sells newspapers without really pushing the status quo.

          That’s enough to bounce off all the concerns of her more critically thinking reporter peers, who don’t control her paycheck and view those close relationships with her subjects as the obvious quid-pro-quos they are — unprosecutable bribes.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, hi there, do you have one shred of evidence she is “on retainer”? Because that is defamatory, and we do not do that here. Where did you come from anyway?

        • HikaakiH says:

          That’s not how I parsed what Christenson wrote. BrainAgain suggested that it was a possibility that should be considered. My read of Christenson’s reply is that while Haberman was a ‘willing’ participant, to accuse her of being ‘fully aware and on retainer’ was incorrect and that a better explanation was how much ego-feed she receives from doing her job the way she has chosen to do it.
          [Switched to palindromic version of username to make it 8 letters.]

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The “on retainer” bit is a vast oversimplification, like the S.Ct.’s constipated views about bribery.

          Habs is talented, ambitious and energetic, as well as being white and attractive. Like Bill Barr, she grew up in well-to-do Manhattan, with parents who were the same. Connections, like status, wealth, and attitudes about “society” and your place in it, tend to be generational.

          Habs knows what she’s doing, and is happy with her choices and the results for her, which she explains as doing good journalism. Not for her the choices and consequences of being an outsider San Jose Mercury News beat reporter.

        • Rugger9 says:

          The SJMN is now under the thumb of the Bay Area News Group and has definitely toned down on investigative reporting. That role is now filled by the Metro, San Jose Insider, and the smaller-scale local papers.

          The anodyne feel is only enlivened by the wretched editing that stops at the spell-checker level and sometimes not even that.

        • punaise says:

          I don’t envy anyone trying to keep a newspaper company alive these days, but BANG brews some weak tea: third-tier syndicated pieces, sponsored content, a modicum of local news coverage. The Mercury-News used to be a fine outfit (part of the Knight-Ridder group? then McClatchy I think).

          Growing up in the proto-Silicon Valley, we actually subscribed to two (count them: two!) regional papers: The SJMN and the SF Chronicle. The MN had better reporting, but the Chron had Herb Caen and the Sporting Green.

        • Rugger9 says:

          For prior SJMN owners, you are correct. This is what happens when companies control multiple outlets in multiple markets, and doesn’t want to offend the powers that be.

      • Rayne says:

        Assuming some day the news clippings Trump ratholed with presidential records and classified material will be released to NARA and viewable by the public, we should take bets on what percentage of those clippings are either Haberman bylines, or secondary reporting which relied on Haberman.

    • BobCon says:

      In one sense, I don’t think it’s true that Haberman is lazy. I think she covers a lot of ground in her reporting, I think she talks to a lot of people, and given the specific data she collects, I think she does a lot of evaluation of factual accuracy.

      But at a higher level I think she is extremely lazy intellectually for the reasons MW details. She cannot think beyond what her sources say, which reveals gigantic blind spots and slanted viewpoints.

      A prime example is in the first two months of 2020 as Covid loomed, Haberman was hard at work reporting on things like Trump’s holiday vacation. And yet her coverage of the White House planning for Covid — or the lack of it — was painfully thin.

      Her sources weren’t talking about Covid, and so she saw no reason to make an issue of it either. And even as events made the issue unavoidable by the end of February, she barely weighed in on the White House dysfunction.

      In the end, thouh, the problem goes well beyond Haberman to the issue of how the Times is edited. External post mortems on Judith Miller’s disaster noted that Miller seeming operated outside of any major editorial oversight, and that’s long been true for Times stars — nobody would tell Johnny Apple or Peter Baker what to do either, or question their frameworks or source choices.

    • Dark Phoenix says:

      Maggie’s mother was one of Donald Trump’s PR hacks. Maggie’s always been willing to act as Trump’s mouthpiece whenever necessary.

  3. Yogarhythms says:

    “Maggie is a big reason why”….”pardons for four of the five Trump aides who lied to cover up their ties with Russia —“ Emptywheel receipts quoted above demonstrate proof of concept, journalism is alive, and Habb’s, access journo’s, enabling tfg’s criminality.

    • gmoke says:

      The NYTimes no longer has a Public Editor. I met Daniel Okrent, a former NYTimes Public Editor, once upon a time and explained to him what Godwin’s Law means.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Who would have known the NYT no longer has a Public Editor, apart from anyone who reads Dan Froomkin’s twtr feed.

    • LeeNLP says:

      We need two Dr. Wheelers- one to continue her critical ongoing investigative work, and another for Public Editor. Perhaps the more general case is for this level of intelligence and due diligence in every aspect of public life. What a different world it would be!

      I continue to be amazed and grateful for this site. To think I came *this* close to buying Haberman’s book. I now understand why she’s not highly regarded here. :)

  4. Tom R. says:

    Meanwhile, she goes around bemoaning that over the last 7 years other journalists were slow, she says, to realize that he was manipulating them.

    The award for lack of self-awareness goes to ……

    • person1597 says:

      “I know she’s a tracker, any scarlet would back her
      They say she’s a chooser, but I just can’t refuse her
      She was just there, but then she can’t be here no more…
      And as my mind unweaves,
      I feel the freeze down in my knees
      But just before she leaves, she receives.”

  5. Fiendish Thingy says:

    Pardon my denseness, but what does the term “hangout” mean?

    As in “ As noted in the ABC report, this is actually the second limited hangout about the Russian documents that Maggie spread.”

      • John Colvin says:

        The term “limited hangout” has also been used by some defense attorneys. My mentor (who was a young lawyer at DOJ during the Nixon administration) used the term regularly.

      • matt fischer says:

        And what are the odds that the reported search for nuclear documents at MAL is a modified limited hangout?

        • ThomasH says:

          I think it’s reasonable to assume that most of the scoops, about trump’s malfeasance, from unnamed sources are modified limited hangouts. It’s doubtful that the snippets of scandalous information about the former president are sourced from the DOJ.

      • LeeNLP says:

        I think this is ploy known innately to children- be the first one to Mom with the story about what happened to the cookies, the broken dishes, etc.

      • a reader says:

        Thank you for explaining what “hangout” means. I was coming to ask the same question not being able to figure it out in context.

  6. mossyrock says:

    I have heard and read this about ms. Haberman before, that she is the magpie and that Donald is a Distractor. It was never hidden that the meeting for dirt was anything but a meeting of collusion. But unless and until one of these traitors confesses to it the backlash from the right and middle media is overwhelming and then thats the story. Its coming out now that Trump stole docs in order to trade them for the evidence of Russian collusion and the fact that Donald wil run so that he cant be charged with espionage and theft is also in the mainstream at least on msnbc. I am glad to know the lesser of 8 evils of things about Trump because it numbs us to him. We and anyone who reads the magpie’s articles know he is a traitor of the most shallow sort; not for ideology but for cash just like most traitors and that makes him so incredibly ordinary.

  7. Hope Ratner says:

    It’s all so discouraging to read this and not flip to the Judith Miller scenario of a reporter’s gullibility in pursuit of a scoop instead of the truth.

      • jeff says:


        [Welcome to emptywheel. SECOND REQUEST: Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Jeff” or “Jeffrey” or “Jeffery.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

      • Cosmo Le Cat says:

        I certainly meant no disrespect to Marcy’s body of great work and super tweets. IANAL, rather I am very interested in media, its impact and manipulation.

        For me, this posting tied together many thoughts I have had over the years. I learned about the flaws of access journalism from Emptywheel. This particular article crystallized the abuse of that by the NYT and the evil that can come from it. I recall vividly the shocking (to me) Trump-Putin meeting in 2017 (I had discovered Emptywheel not long before). It was so outrageous, dangerous and obviously anti-American that I thought no act could top that.

        I could not fit the pieces of that and the following day’s events together, nor recognize the role that Haberman and the NYT played, until I read this article. Epiphanies and trumpets sounded for me. Bmaz (and Marcy), forgive me for being so deeply moved.

  8. Bay State Librul says:

    This is easy.
    Listen to Michael Cohen rather than Maggie.
    Meanwhile, Trump’s henchman Michael Flynn called Zelensky “a dangerous fool”.
    Whisper to Merrick, the threat to democracy is paramount.
    Tick tock.

  9. OldTulsaDude says:

    Wake up, Maggie, I think I got something to say to you.
    It’s early October and you still have not a single clue.

  10. Scott Rose says:

    I agree with a lot of this, and with skepticism vis-a-vis Haberman generally, however, Trump is the guy who committed felony solicitation of voter fraud in public view, so I think there is a plausible alternate interpretation of the Document Swap Story.

    Trump believed he would get away with stealing certain sets of documents, but was being pressured to return them. Just in case, somewhere, there were going to magically appear some set of documents that would “prove” Trump’s false narrative of the Russia investigation, he “floated” the idea of exchanging the documents he was already retaining for the (non-existent) kind of documents about the Russia investigation that he wished existed.

    For Trump, it would have been a momentary, throwaway idea, but for at least one of the aids he floated it to, it was shocking, because it exposes Trump’s mens rea in the matter of the documents he intended to steal. The Times story published this weekend is about what went on between Trump and certain of his aids in the matter of Trump’s theft of documents. The source for the information (buried in the story) is given as “two people briefed on the discussions.”

    On the one hand, yes this tidbit would not be as bad as the other thing(s) it could have been contrived over, in order to hide those other things. But, it is hardly a tidbit favorable to Trump, as, if it could be proven, i.e. if the aid(s) who heard him say this could be identified and used as witnesses, they would provide evidence of Trump’s mens rea.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      You seem to be assuming that whatever Trump told Habs had any basis in fact.

      Even if true, improbable, Marcy’s point was that this part of the story is about something Trump did not do, yet it’s gone viral. Trump’s ghost writer should have titled the work, The Art of the Manipulator, not the Deal.

    • HikaakiH says:

      “…it is hardly a tidbit favorable to Trump.” The whole notion of a limited hangout is that it has at least the veneer of plausibility. It’s a defensive position adopted in a retreat from one’s preferred position but before one’s ‘last ditch,’ so is often somewhat uncomfortable and cedes some ground, while setting up the means or providing more time to better defend what’s coming.

  11. Ginevra diBenci says:

    The Russia investigation began under the Obama administration. I assume this means that the originals of documents related to it might not have been directly accessible by Trump, and so memorable to those with a need to know in 2016 that the documents’ value to him may have seemed limited–up until (it seems) January 19, 2021, when such Obama-era records would have been among those Trump wanted to “declassify” and make public for his self-perceived vindication.

    Were these the ones he wanted to Art-of-the-Deal for? Since his central claims have always been “They spied on my campaign” and “Russia Hoax,” it seems he would have to reach back into 2016 for proof. My questions include whether he would have acquired, on January 20, 2017, not just access to the content of such documents but (in his logic) ownership of the originals; and whether, upon realizing in the waning days of January 2021 that he lacked the latter (that is: proof), he decided to squirrel away assets of comparable value for some future trade.

    • Unabogie says:

      NAL, but AFAIK there is no level of “need to know” that bars the current president from seeing it. The idea that a former president could hide documents from his successor is at the crux of this whole mess.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Hi Unabogie, I probably wasn’t clear enough. Trump certainly could have *seen* those 2016 documents when he became president. He hinted that he had “proof” of his claims, but I’m thinking the proof would have to be the originals, and wondering if those originals are at issue here. Assuming he wants them, did he keep (say) things he had been told would compromise sources and methods as bargaining chips?

        Trump doesn’t care about the intelligence community, but he came to see that it cared about these things (the stuff that was in those empty folders, maybe), and so might have saved such docs to trade for what he really wanted.

  12. Rapier says:

    I assume there is a lot of editing of Maggy’s work. Not to mention a lot of nudges. That’s the only way this makes sense as a formal or informal strategy. That is that it is a collaborative, or let’s say cultural thing.

    By the very nature of the relationship and what the results have been Maggy should have been pulled out long ago. Well except the NY Times is getting exactly what they want, That is the exact same thing they have wanted for 100 years.

    Now how this want has gone on for 100 years I cannot say.

  13. LaMissy! says:

    Haberman’s connected by both of her parents.

    Her mother, Nancy Haberman is (perhaps was?) Executive Vice President for the PR firm Rubenstein, which once represented Fred Trump’s interests. Here’s more in a post entitled “Maggie Duranty”.


    Her father, Clyde Haberman, was a long time journalist at the NYT.

    Maggie would, perhaps, be familiar with nepotism.

    • Norskeflamthrower says:

      Thank you for this info. I knew I had read about this family/TrumpOrg/NYT nexus years ago and was trying to run it down this morning but now my slow but curious mind wants to know why this information made public in the beginning of all this did not disqualify her in the public eye and understanding. The accession of this fascist dumpster and his ongoing crimes have been public knowledge and the reporting of it has done nothing but make a few opportunists millions in book revenues…sigh.

    • AgainBrain says:

      As the reference was cited, what is the general sentiment of folks here regarding the content presented at Citizen Journalist Consortium (the site referenced above)?

      The research seems decently backed & cited (there are holes, but often highlighted by them, seeking more info). The conclusions reached vary from obvious, through most being plausible, to a few rather… sizeable… leaps of faith (to be nice, all IMO of course).

      Just interested. If a sore topic, let me know and I’ll drop it.

  14. Scott Rose says:

    P.S. — Since on social media, this EmptyWheel post shows up with a thumbnail image of Putin —

    One of things that attracts the reactionary American right to Putin is their shared hatred of gay people.

    John Eastman is a founder of a notorious anti-LGBT hate group, the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

    Long before Trump was a candidate, NOM was praising Putin for his oppression of gay people. NOM’s Brian Brown often traveled to Russia to conspire to oppress LGBT people globally.

    Part of that effort was Eastman/NOM’s sponsoring of a corrupt “scientific” study on gay parenting, known as The Regnerus Study. By lying about his data and what his data shows, Regnerus alleged that gay parents were harmful to children. The original intent was for the study to be used at the Supreme Court to defeat same-sex marriage in the U.S. The study has since been used around the world in attempts to squelch gay rights.

    Meanwhile, there is solid documentation proving that the peer review of the study was corrupt, and that the data do not show what Regnerus claims.

    The New York Times original report on the Regnerus study includes a quote from a University of Pennsylvania professor who claimed to the Times that he had no connection to the study, and who said that the study was scientifically sound. In fact, that professor was a paid consultant for the study. The Times, shown proof of this, refused to add any update or correction to its story. And just to be sure this is clear, John Eastman was involved with promulgating that hoax study.

    • bmaz says:

      This nearly 300 word comment was because of a thumbnail pic on Twitter? Really? What was it about a simple thumbnail photo on another forum that set you off??

      You were here once in December of 2021, and, over the last two weeks are present with a vengeance, nearly 50 comments, most all long, and like you have some kind of stock here. You do not. There has been a serious influx of people like you, and don’t think we mistake it.

      • Scott Rose says:

        Firstly, no “other forum” was involved.

        The EmptyWheel Twitter account produces the photo of Putin for this post as tweeted by EmptyWheel.

        Secondly, my comment is relevant for more than one reason.

        1) It helps to explain the affinity that the far American right has for Putin. They both, Putin and the far American right, seek to perpetuate patriarchy through both government and religion, and part of the way they do that is by oppressing gay people.

        2) In the specific matter of the John Eastman-linked Regnerus study, the American promulgators of the study had established relationships with Putin.

        3) The Times (and this EmptyWheel post *is* about journalistic ethics and the Times) refused to correct a very serious mistake it made in its reporting about the John Eastman-linked Regnerus study.

        • bmaz says:

          You are full of shit. You whined about a “social media” occurrence. And, thanks “Scott”, I understand how things on the internet work and do not need your oh so bleating and earnest help. Secondly, you are still a mouthy pain in the ass, and don’t think we do not know. You are on thin ice.

    • RMD says:

      A worthy topic for another thread, perhaps.
      the relationship the NYT has with key writers whose writings shaped the National conversation….reminds me of Walter Duranty and his ties to Stalin….
      …and more recently, their withholding of evidence of Bush’s violation of US citizen’s privacy during an election year—with enormously consequential effects on voter’s (non) awareness of illegality.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    There’s Maggie Habs, working hard to give power the coverage – and the world – it wants, which rewards her.

    Then there are reporters who stick their necks out to provide facts-in-context journalism: The War Correspondents’ Memorial in Bayeux, France, with memorial stones for the more than two thousand journalists killed in wars since 1944.

  16. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    Trump would not keep letting Haberman have her access journalism if he was not getting the better of the bargain. That’s the art of the deal.

    I read Haberman’s and Schmidt’s NYT article carefully, and it doesn’t actually say that advisers were the source. If Trump was the source and the notion that he sought to trade documents with NARA is planted fake news, then no advisers exist, but the media is chasing a phantom. Meanwhile, it gives the right wing frothers another opportunity to chatter about the so-called Russia hoax.

  17. Jim Luther says:

    Look at the base assumption made in this article – that a certain group of people can be influenced by evidence and reason/logic. The defining feature of the MAGA crowd is that they reject evidence and reason as a basis for decision making.

    This is a population that believes in the 6,000 year old Earth in the face of a mountain of contradictory evidence. That evolution is a lie. That human induced climate change is a conspiracy theory and Obama being a Muslim is not. That Covid-19 is just the flu. That supply side / trickle down economics work for anyone but the wealthy. Comet Pizza. Seth Rich murder. A cabal of pedophiles. The examples are endless.

    IMHO, Maggie is irrelevant – just another grifter seeing an opportunity to make a buck and cashing in on it. Sure, she is slightly more subtle than Hannity/Carlson, but the MAGA crowd will latch onto whomever is saying what they want to hear. If Maggie would have been truthful, she would have been quickly replaced by someone else and she, and everyone else, knows it.

    • bmaz says:

      MagHabs is neither irrelevant, nor simply a grifter. That is beyond a short sided statement. Many people here may not agree with her reportage and method of doing so, but if you think she is not smart and understanding of what she is doing, then you are the fool.

    • Rayne says:

      The MAGA crowd wasn’t radicalized all at once, nor are they being deprogrammed all at once. Had more effective reporting occurred earlier in the MAGA life cycle, perhaps some might not have been radicalized at all.

      Their radicalization relies on their authoritarian personalities. Consider how their authority figures are constructed and by whom.

    • Jim Luther says:

      I think she is smart, diligent, and fully understanding of what she is doing. I also think she is a completely replaceable cog. It is simply when I look at the composition of the MAGA crowd a number of themes are prominent – evangelicalism, racism, libertarianism are strongly represented. NYT readership is not. There far more effective promoters of authoritarianism and she is simply playing her distracter role in a bit part. These people can not be “deprogrammed” – the only hope is in the next generation, and that is why education is such an important battleground.

  18. WilliamOckham says:

    I have one quibble with this excellent article. Haberman is not the only one who cares that Trump promised 12 boxes and delivered 15 boxes to NARA. I’m intensely interested in this fact. Assuming it’s true, I think it is highly significant. To understand why, I have to explain how I think it all went down.

    Late January 2021, Trump shipped [26 +/- 3] boxes from the WH to Mar-a-Lago. Durning the negotiation with NARA, he decided to send some stuff back. Trump pulled stuff out of those boxes and put the stuff he was willing to send back in totally different boxes. The “I’m going to send you 12 boxes” is significant because it shows that Trump planned and executed a plan to keep some stuff and send other stuff back. He had a reasonable estimate of how much he would be sending back. He gave NARA his estimate. Then he completed the work and it was 15 boxes of stuff.

    I wonder is someone can ask NARA when they first heard about 12 boxes coming back.

    • Tom-1812 says:

      Perhaps Trump was trying to convey the (false) impression that he really was sending absolutely everything back to the archives. The inclusion of the newspapers, magazines, and clippings along with the classified material was Trump’s attempt to create the impression that he was really cleaning house, to the point of sending the archives even the very dregs of his file drawers: “I told you I’d be sending you a dozen boxes, but the total of everything I had actually comes to fifteen, so you can see how honest and truthful I’m being.”

      The fact that the 15 returned file boxes were in such a shambles also seemed to be Trump’s way of saying, “You wanted everything? You got everything! Sorry it’s a mess but I hope that satisfies your morbid curiosity.”

  19. PeterS says:

    It’s quite simple. In any sane world (or newsroom), what a known liar and bullshitter says cannot automatically qualify as news.

  20. wrhack says:

    I shudder at the response I may get for this, but here goes. (And this is more a reflection on some of the comments than on MW’s original post.)

    I think a lot of intelligent and well-meaning people waste an inordinate amount of time kvetching about Maggie Haberman. She is neither the best reporter in the world nor the worst. She is also not an investigating reporter; she is a beat reporter. And for close to a decade her beat has been Donald J. Trump. Despite some notable shortcomings, she has done a fairly decent job of covering her beat. All beat reporters engage in some form of access journalism. As a beat reporter, you are playing a long game. You cultivate potential sources. There are definitely problems with this arrangement. A reporter can learn to pull his or her punches. And you can get played. I don’t doubt that Maggie has fallen into both traps. It’s par for the course.

    The stuff about her mother’s employment at Rubenstein is almost too stupid to respond to. Her parentage certainly helps explain her chosen metier and her grounding in the rough and tumble of NY power wielding. And it is surely the lens through which she views DJT. But it is simply inane to suggest that she is engaged in a lifelong project to cast DJT in the best possible light. Far more important is the institutional reality of an organization as large and complex as the NYT. Reporting does not occur in a vacuum. There are editors–and lawyers–combing through the copy filed by every reporter. If they feel that a story asserts things not obviously supported by the evidence, those things get slashed. And, believe me, if I had a nickel for every time an editor told a reporter, “Save it for your book,” I’d be rich. At the very least, if Maggie produced some potentially explosive bit of reporting or offered up some take that forced us all to rethink our world, the editors would at the very least strike it from the story and assign one or more other reporters to work with her on developing it for a later date.

    None of this is meant to excuse either Haberman or the NYT for the many shortcomings and outright failures they have been guilty of over the years. That’s why the NYT is only one source of news for me. And an important reason I turn to Emptywheel everyday (and have recently started to pay for the privilege, as we all should). It is simply a gentle nudge to folks here to spend less time and emotional energy on the evils of the wicked messenger. The “evils” are largely systemic, not personal.

    • Rayne says:

      She is also not an investigating reporter; she is a beat reporter.

      At some point beat reporters are obligated to stop writing beat sweeteners and do goddamned reporting on their beat, the topic they’re supposed to know better than any other reporter because they have access.

      Saving it for a book long afterward is not beat reporting.

      • wrhack says:

        I don’t disagree. I just think that a lot of people are focusing too much on the failings of a particular reporter and too little on the institutional realities.

        I also doubt, given the larger political realities of our time, that if MH had reported stories more in synch with the excellent analysis of MW, the last six years would have played out much differently. Signal is constantly overwhelmed by noise every day.

        One of my chief complaints about the NYT is how dull and slow-footed its Op-ed section is. The WaPo, by contrast, has a number of good commentary people–Philip Bump, Jennifer Rubin, Greg Sargent, Arron Blake–who seem able to get pieces up on the site within a few hours. The helps compensate for some of the shortcomings I see in the daily reporting at both publications.

        ETA: Contrary to a comment below, I don’t think Maggie Haberman can be lumped with Judith Miller.

        • PeterS says:

          Kind of to your point, there was always going to be a chief “Trump whisperer” and it turned out to be MH. If she’d been a better journalist we’d just be talking about someone else. And that someone else would only have become chief whisperer because it was in Trump’s interest to make them so.

        • Rayne says:

          Benner is a good example of someone who is curious and willing to learn and dig; she seems to have a healthy sense of skepticism approaching her subjects. DOJ is her current beat but she’s covered finance and technology as well during her career.

          I doubt Benner would have had access to Trump’s White House, though, had she been with NYT and assigned that beat. There’s a symbiosis in this relationship between Trump and the outlets he allows close to him. This is where I part with commenter wrhack’s beliefs about Haberman’s background — being white, female, attractive, and deeply acquainted with how access reporting and PR work were attributes Trump appreciated in order to permit her access.

    • Bobby Gladd says:


      I will not be buying her book. Not a fan (I have sometimes called her “Court Composer“). But, Amazon provides an extremely generous ~three hour & 20 minute “look inside preview.“ I downloaded it and read through it. It comprises about 20% of the total text body. My reaction was that it was well written, was not at all favorable or complementary towards Trump, and didn’t provide me with anything beyond that which I pretty much already knew (having already read quite a number of the credible investigative biographies of Trump, along with being his age and also born in New York).

      I have no way to know whether some of the stuff she was ostensibly “holding back for her book“ was legally actionable (“misprision”). A bit dubious.

      I am SO sick of thinking about and reading about Trump et al. While I too want him collared, I would not surprised at all should he skate yet again.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        I did just order Haberman’s book–along with Dahlia Lithwick’s, which I would have bought with my last thirty bucks because Lithwick keeps me sane and informed, and has done so brilliantly for years.

        After watching a bunch of Haberman’s interviews (Colbert, Alex Wagner), I realized her background research had included details I might need for my own book–mainly about how Trump’s Apprentice years powered his political identity, which is my premise and which Haberman’s imprimatur helps me establish without detouring too far myself. (Mark Burnett has made researching this period frustrating for outsiders.)

        I’m hoping Haberman used her access and skills to learn more about Trump’s relationship with his mother. That remains the yawning biographical gap, mainly because everyone focuses on Fred Trump the Father, as if only one parent had shaped a 76-year-old child.

        • MB says:

          I would also recommend as an alternative to Amazon for buying books. Supports independent booksellers, they have a fairly large selection available, offer gift cards and best of all, they are not Amazon. Takes a little longer to ship than Amazon, but it’s worth the wait…

        • Rayne says:

          Alibris is a storefront for a network of independent booksellers. I’ve rarely had a book take more than 10 days from order to delivery, usually more like 3 depending on how close the source is to where I’m located. The bookseller and their location for each book listed is listed.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Rayne and MB, Those are great suggestions. I always look for an alternative to Amazon and usually order used copies through independents. For Haberman’s book, both time pressure (finishing my own project) and computer problems (nothing else came up when I searched) backed me into Amazon. But I completely agree with your motivation and welcome the ideas.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          For future reference, Better World Books has this title. They also help literacy, libraries, and the environment.

        • Alan Charbonneau says:

          He’s a writer and a descendent of Thomas Jefferson. His grandfather was Lucian Truscott Jr., a general who led the 3rd infantry division in the assault on Sicily in July 1943,

          In the movie “Patton” there is a scene when Patton wants to get to Messina before Montgomery and talks to “Lucian” about an end run behind the German lines.

          Truscott IV wrote for the Village Voice and had several best selling novels. He was one of the first of Jefferson’s descendants to want Sally Hemings descendants recognized as Jefferson’s descendants. He was called a race traitor and received death threats for this.

          This is an article he wrote about that and the slaves who built and ran Monticello.

          He writes for Salon and has a substack newsletter. I like his writing quite a bit

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Truscott’s fine. He had balls to challenge his own service academy about mandatory chapel, which the S.Ct. agreed with in 1972, and to write about heroin addiction in the Vietnam era military, for which the Army gave him a less than honorable discharge just over a year after graduating from West Point. That was about the same time Alfred McCoy was doing his early research in the Golden Triangle for his The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia.

        • ScorpioJones, III says:

          Apparently cacti dont get around much. You might remember his grandfather from WW II and the movie Patton.

        • bmaz says:

          Cacti get around just fine, thanks. I do not read Substack, and don’t give a shit who his grandfather was. Hope that clears things up for you.

        • Alan Charbonneau says:

          “He had balls to challenge his own service academy about mandatory chapel, which the S.Ct. agreed with in 1972”

          The guy he went up against for the mandatory chapel requirement was Alexander Haig!

        • USMA1986 says:

          I am mixed on truscott overall but extremely grateful mandatory chapel was a thing of the past by the time I was a cadet. Although I do cop to attending chapel during the first summer (beast barracks) because they gave us with cookies and juice after mass. I don’t remember what meant more – having snacks or the respite from getting yelled at by asshole upperclassmen.

  21. Dustbowler says:

    Great post about Judith Miller … er … Maggie Haberman.
    How did I make that mistake? Must be getting on in years.

  22. William Allen Simpson (DayDreamer) says:

    I’ve been reading Lucian Truscott somewhat irrregularly at Salon, but he’s been around quite awhile.

    Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives on the East End of Long Island and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better. He can be followed on Facebook at The Rabbit Hole and on Twitter @LucianKTruscott.

    • RMD says:

      Stephen and his writers need to read Dr. Wheeler.

      Patty cake for access is neither funny or compelling….but it may sell books, and ads

      • timbo says:

        I’m curious as to whether or not you watched those videos.

        The point of my post was not a critique of Colbert per se, although, at the hazard of taking this further off-topic, I would say that it is not necessarily in evidence that Colbert’s writers do not read far and wide.

        In any case, I’ll now return to the topic at hand, which is Haberman, her statements, and her attempts to retain access to folks like Trump, etc.

  23. Zinsky123 says:

    Wow! Outstanding post – I continue to be astonished at the amount of information that Ms. Wheeler can assimilate, correlate, process, retain and report on. I assume you have assistants, because you would have to be working 24/7 otherwise. Anyway, I agree that the media has done a terrible job of focusing on the most pernicious and criminally egregious parts of the entire Trump scandalverse, which is all kind of related. Paul Manafort’s interactions with Konstantin Klimnick, in particular, were nothing short of treasonous, in my opinion. The American public barely heard about it. Wikileaks and Roger Stone also got little media coverage until recently. The Podesta and Clinton e-mails were stolen, for God’s sake! They didn’t get on Wikileaks by osmosis. Why wasn’t the mechanism by which these e-mails found their way on to the Internet explored in much more depth? You know damn well Stone was behind it. The NRA/Russia connection was also not exploited as it should have been. Massive amounts of wire fraud, unregistered lobbying, etc. that were never properly investigated. So many lines of attack that were never used. The DNC could have destroyed the NRA and they held back. By the way, who planted the bombs at the DNC and RNC headquarters on 1/6/21? So many questions…..

    NOTE: I will be using the screen name Zinsky123 (formerly Zinsky) going forward, to comply with your eight character screen name requirement,

  24. Tinao says:

    Hey Emp, you know how much I hate to be off topic but… here goes

    Chief and Big Mama
    had to stomp
    head of viper
    keeping the tribe
    Together they rule.
    Back from the Amazon!

  25. Thomas says:

    ***When Trump gets in trouble, the showman curates stories to distract from his real legal woes, obscuring the real legal jeopardy he faces, while distracting the crowd with a blizzard of stories serially revealing tidbits that are distractions from the real story.

    That’s how it happens that, five months after Kash Patel publicly used the Russian investigation documents Trump tried to release in the last hours of his Administration as an alibi for stealing other documents, Maggie and Mike have gotten the chattering classes worked up over something related to that cover story that Trump did not do: offer the government to return documents unrelated to Russia if the government would let him burn more sources and methods relating to Russia.***

    This sideshow works better when Trump is president. Trying to do it when Trump is NOT president, and when a grand jury is investigating the behavior in question, will land Trump and a lot of other people in prison.

    Did Haberman make up this story about Trump trying to extort the government for Russia investigation documents? Because if she didn’t, then she obstructed a national security investigation and she belongs in a cell with her book project, Trump.

    I’ve had it with Trump’s enablers. Hannity, for example kept pushing the Seth Rich conspiracy for two years and didn’t shut his mouth about it until Mueller proved that the Russians did the hacking. That Seth Rich story was invented by Roger Stone and Ted Malloch, and it was a cover story for their accomplices, the Russian intelligence agents.

    I want justice. I want these liars locked up. They aren’t journalists. They are criminal accomplices. Wire fraud.

    • bmaz says:

      “Did Haberman make up this story about Trump trying to extort the government for Russia investigation documents? Because if she didn’t, then she obstructed a national security investigation and she belongs in a cell with her book project, Trump.”


      “They aren’t journalists. They are criminal accomplices. Wire fraud.”

      Complete bullshit. Please do not do that here. Journalists, whether you like or dislike them, do NOT obstruct investigations by reporting, whether now or later. And they are NOT “criminal accomplices”. That is literally ignorant, and wanting to “lock them up” is every bit as gross and misguided as the stuff Trump spews. And, no, it is nowhere near “wire fraud”.

      Again, do NOT do that here.

      And, as Rayne constantly reminds, you will need a more differentiated name, of at least eight characters, if you are to return. “Thomas” is not going to cut it.

  26. biff murphy says:

    I always learn a little here.
    I wondered if Haberman had ever commented here or had any reaction, positive or negative to the accuracy or the reporting at Emptywheel blog?
    Thanks biff

    • Rayne says:

      To the best of my knowledge, Haberman has not commented here at emptywheel assuming she would use her real life identity. I don’t know about other forms of response.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if NYT along with other major newspapers do not encourage or bar journalists’ participation in blog comments though they may be encouraged to participate in Twitter exchanges which are more open and visible and in a venue where NYT and other newspapers have accounts.

        • Rayne says:

          With all due respect, you can butt the fuck out. They asked a question, I answered as a moderator and a former managing editor for a nonprofit news org.

          Slow your roll. Consider whether the comments you publish add to the discussion or if they merely cause other community member to continue scrolling.

        • PeterS says:

          Well, an anagram of their username is: pl, I jes’ scroll on

          P.S. okay I cheated a little.
          P.P.S. can I use non-alphanumeric characters to grow to 8, assuming I need to?

        • Rayne says:

          You can use numbers, dashes or underbars to generate 8 characters. And then you need to remember the combination because the future comment system will boot out non-matching names OR treat members like complete noobs off the street.

        • -PeterS- says:

          Thanks; hope this is okay.

          [ d(>_・ ) *Thumbs up* Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

  27. Tom-1812 says:

    Perhaps journalists should report on politicians the same way that Jane Goodall observed and reported on the behaviour of chimpanzees in Tanzania; i.e., by keeping a respectful and objective distance. According to Wikipedia, when Dr. Goodall tried some access primatology by becoming the lowest ranking member of the local troop of chimps, she was eventually attacked and chased out by one of the alpha males named Frodo. Another of Frodo’s victims was the Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson.

  28. Benji says:

    A bit off the Maggs topic, so forgive – but I am seeing a lot of the term ‘summation exhibit’ tossed around the innerwebs this morning based on comments TFG made in an Arizona speech.

    Many of these comments seem to tend toward “he admitted criming from his own mouth hole on camera in front of witnesses!”

    Sounds like so much bloviation from the press as well as the orange one – my lookup of summation exhibit seems to indicate that would be primarily a closing statement.

    So, not a lawyer but I understand there are some here who know someone who knows a lawyer or two: Did TFG admit to a crime at a rally this weekend? Thanks!

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Doesn’t Trump “admit to a crime” pretty much every time he opens his mouth in public?

      I don’t know what he said at this rally, but I don’t think parsing his bloviatory for criminal admissions has gotten us anywhere so far.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        When Andrew Weissmann talks about a “summation exhibit,” he means self-incriminating evidence that is so striking, a prosecutor would both present it at trial and use it again in summation.

        Yes, Trump frequently admits to crimes in his public statements. The difference is that Trump is saying it during an active criminal investigation by the DoJ.

        Trump is using the, “You’re goddamn right I did!” defense, which didn’t work out so well for Colonel Jessup. He’s admitting he had boxes of documents that were “his,” an artful phrasing. His lawyers describe the materials as his Presidential Records, in the seeming belief that the PRA specifies no criminal penalties and that’s the end of it. It’s not.

        The alleged criminal conduct being investigated is broader. It includes obstruction, lying to government officials, refusal to deliver up records in response to a subpoena, possession and misuse of classified documents, and other crimes.

        Trump ignores that even if Presidential Records, he has no right to their possession or use, outside of the scheme outlined in the PRA, an intentional bit of propaganda in his appeal to his Base. The same with the way he avoids addressing at all his possession of federal records and mishandling of classified records.

        • Benji says:

          Thanks Earl Of, it was the Weissmann statement that I was wondering about. So I guess the better question to ask is there is a chance that such a display by TFG would be enough to prompt charges that may stick?

          Andrew Weissmann does not strike me as in the same vein as a Michael Avenatti type lawyer – so maybe (hopefully) this could be the time for Garland to press charges? Or is this too early/a pipe dream?


        • BirdGardener says:

          I trust the DOJ will wait until they’ve amassed more than enough evidence to have an excellent chance for conviction on every charge they bring.

          Charging him right now for something Trump said this weekend? Can’t you hear the “Free Speech!” screeching? It’d be playing into his hands, no?

          IANAL either, but this seems like a bad idea to me. Using what he says against him once they have him in court, sure, but letting him provoke them (DOJ) into changing their timing re. charging him might not work out well.

        • bmaz says:

          “I trust the DOJ will wait until they’ve amassed more than enough evidence to have an excellent chance for conviction on every charge they bring.”

          That is literally the written DOJ charging standard, so yes.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Earl, My point was that Trump’s public self-incrimination has never stuck to him. He counts on this remaining status quo, and exploits it ad nauseum.

        • Willis Warren says:

          Weismann is useful, but a bit of a hack these days. I still like him, wish he’d be a little more lawyerly, but he’s a pretty good bellwether for what DOJ thinks of Trump. He’s essentially right that they have more than enough to charge him for holding the docs, but they’re looking at far more serious crimes. I don’t think they can avoid charging him at this point, so we’re gonna see something move soon. I hope they charge him before the election.

  29. ExRacerX says:

    The symbiotic relationship between MH & tfg has always seemed a bit farcical to me, with Trump constantly spouting about the “Failing New York Times,” but all the while granting exclusive interviews and access to Haberman.

  30. Jenny says:

    Thank you Dr. Marcy. Great post.

    Trump Quotes:
    “I have tremendous respect for women.”

    “Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody. Nobody has more respect.”

    “I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist. I think that would be, maybe, going too far.”

    “I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy.”

  31. Willis Warren says:

    Thanks for writing this up. Maggie is so obviously using these “scoops” that come directly from trump pretending that she is a real reporter.

  32. Jeremy Daw says:

    Maggie loved the attention. She was drunk with it. “Wow it’s crazy how much happens in a day with trump”, she would say in many of her interviews. Oh the excitement! It made me sick, now, it’s making her sick. This is what all the vapid tfg hangers on get, attention and a feeling of power that they crave, but it’s empty lies, there is no power, just the appearance of it.

  33. Greg Hunter says:

    Maggie was on Fresh Air with Dave Davies today and she made points that Trump is transactional and then plays the victim.

    She then proceeds to do exactly that with Dave.

    “Since you brought it up. He was a president, and he’s a potential future nominee. So we’re not going to not cover that. But implicit in what people seem to think is happening is some kind of a transaction. And I don’t know what transaction they think is happening, either in my writing about him flushing documents down a toilet or him calling me a maggot.”

    The whole interview is “worth” the time. The link below has the interview and the transcript.

  34. Blaze Trailer says:

    It appears that Trump and his mentor Vladimir Putin are on an increasingly similar trajectory. Fenced in because of their own selfish and ideologically driven decisions.
    In no way meant to diminish the danger, which is peaking in both theaters IMO, it is encouraging that in both case their rash decisions are hemming them in as well as giving fuel to their opposition.
    The morality play aspect is unavoidable, as is the cognitive dissonance here stateside where our dominant media sees the heroic struggle against an old cold war advisory completely separate from the illiberal forces on the move in the USA.
    Maybe too blunt: is MH a lap dog or a running dog?

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