This is hilarious. The Keystone Cops routine at the White House continues. Two of Trump’s private attorneys had lunch at a steakhouse in D.C. and had a loud conversation with some important revelations in it. What they didn’t know was that the guy at the next table was a New York Times reporter.
The debate in Mr. Trump’s West Wing has pitted Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, against Ty Cobb, a lawyer brought in to manage the response to the investigation. Mr. Cobb has argued for turning over as many of the emails and documents requested by the special counsel as possible in hopes of quickly ending the investigation — or at least its focus on Mr. Trump.
Mr. McGahn supports cooperation, but has expressed worry about setting a precedent that would weaken the White House long after Mr. Trump’s tenure is over. He is described as particularly concerned about whether the president will invoke executive or attorney-client privilege to limit how forthcoming Mr. McGahn could be if he himself is interviewed by the special counsel as requested.
The friction escalated in recent days after Mr. Cobb was overheard by a reporter for The New York Times discussing the dispute during a lunchtime conversation at a popular Washington steakhouse. Mr. Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed “a McGahn spy” and saying Mr. McGahn had “a couple documents locked in a safe” that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to. He also mentioned a colleague whom he blamed for “some of these earlier leaks,” and who he said “tried to push Jared out,” meaning Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who has been a previous source of dispute for the legal team.After The Times contacted the White House about the situation, Mr. McGahn privately erupted at Mr. Cobb, according to people informed about the confrontation who asked not to be named describing internal matters. John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, sharply reprimanded Mr. Cobb for his indiscretion, the people said.
Who needs leaks when you’ve got these bumblers running the show? The dispute between Trump’s private lawyers and McGahn, who is the White House Chief Counsel (and thus a government employee) is over how much to cooperate with the Mueller investigation. McGahn favors more stonewalling, Cobb and Dowd think they should turn over everything requested without a fight.
That mention of documents held in McGahn’s safe is certainly interesting, and I’m sure it drew the attention of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. I’m sure he now wants to know what that document is and will be trying to find a way to get it legally with a subpoena. I would expect McGahn to be deposed at some point, since he was the one who took the meetings with Sally Bates at which she informed him that Michael Flynn had lied about his Russian contacts and was thus a security risk. I imagine the question of what is in that safe will now be asked at that time, if not before.