Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Saturday, September 30, 2017

It was a rough summer for the WH Counsel

by digby

This WSJ piece was published yesterday. It contains a bunch of interesting nuggets about the state of play in the Russia investigation and the WH response:
White House Counsel Don McGahn this summer was so frustrated about the lack of protocols surrounding meetings between President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law whose activities are under scrutiny in the Russia probe, that West Wing officials expressed concerns the top lawyer would quit, according to people familiar with the conversations.

Mr. McGahn expressed concern that meetings between Mr. Kushner and Mr. Trump could be construed by investigators as an effort to coordinate their stories, three people familiar the matter said.

Two senior White House officials—then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former chief strategist Steve Bannon —urged Mr. McGahn not to resign, according to people familiar with the conversations. One person characterized Mr. McGahn’s frustration as, “Fine, you’re not taking my advice? Why stay?”

Mr. McGahn stayed in the job, reassured in part by the White House’s hiring of a legal team specifically to manage the response to the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Attorney Ty Cobb was hired to lead that group.

A White House official said Mr. McGahn “did not consider resigning, and he was not concerned about any one individual. He was focused on implementing the proper processes and structures to protect the White House and its staff, including Jared.”

Mr. McGahn’s concerns from earlier in the summer illustrate the disruption and tension that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe is causing in the West Wing and how the White House’s legal strategy has evolved to respond to the probe.

Some members of Mr. Trump’s legal team in June concluded Mr. Kushner should step down and aired their concerns to the president, The Wall Street Journal has reported. Their concern was that if Mr. Kushner were to speak to the president or White House colleagues about the Russia investigation, Mr. Mueller could seek testimony about what was said.

Mr. Kushner’s role has caused particular concern among some White House officials as federal investigators examine meetings he held with Russian officials and businesspeople during the campaign and transition, said people familiar with the matter.

Federal investigators are examining a meeting during the transition that included Mr. Kushner and the Russian ambassador to the U.S., and another one that he held with the head of a Russian-run bank that has faced U.S. sanctions. Mr. Mueller is also probing a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer tied to the Kremlin, which was attended by Mr. Kushner and other campaign aides, including the president’s eldest son, according to people familiar with the matter.
The fallout from the probe continues to reverberate in the White House. Mr. Trump has also spoken to aides about his concern about the effect the continuing investigation is having on Mr. Kushner; Mr. Trump’s questions about Mr. Kushner spring partly from family considerations, said people familiar with the conversations.

Before taking office, Mr. Trump had urged Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, to remain in New York rather than join him in Washington. Inside the White House, he regularly repeats his view that following him put their reputations at risk, those officials said.

A person close to Mr. Trump said that “as a father, the president feels protective over his kids when they are constantly under attack, but is grateful for their continued contributions towards his agenda.”
Mr. McGahn and some other lawyers wanted a large law firm to manage the response to the probe. They advocated using Jones Day—the law firm where Mr. McGahn worked prior to entering the administration—to play an expanded role in the matter. Mr. Trump opted to keep Jones Day largely focused on representing his campaign.

Mr. McGahn still harbors some concerns about a lack of White House resources available to Mr. Cobb. One person familiar with the team’s operations expressed similar concerns, comparing Mr. Mueller’s team of prosecutors to a “killing machine,” while Mr. Cobb is armed with little more than an “accordion folder” filled with legal pads and post-it notes.

A White House official defended Mr. Cobb, saying he had not been given the resources he needed at the outset.

A veteran of the previous Republican administration said the White House typically seeks to wall off individuals involved in continuing investigations.

“Whenever you have someone who is under investigation, and that individual is having conversations with the president on a wide variety of things that may not relate to the investigation—nonetheless, it creates perception problems,” said Alberto Gonzales, who served as White House counsel and later attorney general under former Republican President George W. Bush. “Someone may slip up and say something that relates to the investigation. You really want to minimize direct contact between someone that’s involved in an investigation and the president of the United States.”

Mr. McGahn, one of Mr. Trump’s closest confidants dating back to the campaign, has on multiple occasions had heated conversations with the president in the Oval Office, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Kushner, who holds an elite perch as a top adviser working a few paces from the Oval Office, continues to oversee a sweeping policy portfolio that includes Middle East peace and government efficiencies.

I love that Trump wanted to keep Jones Day focused on his "campaign" rather than hiring them to deal with the existential threat of this Russia probe. He's in major denial.

Meanwhile, this piece in Vanity Fair discusses the dilemma Mueller faces in whether it makes sense to go ahead with the obstruction charge before he's able to nail down the underlying crime. I don't have a legal opinion on that but I think it makes political sense to first prove the underlying crime if they think it really exists. Since the congress is so dysfunctional that it can't quickly and thoroughly work on a bipartisan basis to uncover the how and why this was done and try to set up processes to prevent it from happening again, this probe seems to be the only hope we have for getting to the truth of what happened.

Trump pretty obviously obstructed justice. He admitted it on TV and has done numerous things since then to show that he was leaning on various officials to illegally shut down the probe. What we don't know is if he was covering up his crimes or if he was just annoyed that he was having to deal with the questions and since he believes he's a king rather than a democratically elected official subject to the rule of law, he figured he could just order the government to do his bidding.

Not that it should matter. He's obviously way out of bounds whatever his motives. But considering the seriousness of the underlying issue I would hope that the Special Prosecutor will do everything in his power to unravel what happened in the election whether it indicts Trump or not. He was clearly unfit for office regardless of Russian interference and people voted for him anyway. That's on the American electorate not him.