Everyone’s talking about a New York Times story suggesting that White House Counsel Don McGahn may have been seeking to protect himself and harm President Trump by spending 30 hours talking to special counsel Robert Mueller.
A fifth column! Rats abandoning the sinking ship!
As the Wall Street Journal points out today, maybe just the reverse.
The thesis of the New York Times story is that Mr. McGahn cooperated in a way that could hurt Donald Trump in order to protect himself and because he doesn’t trust the President. This fits the media narrative that Mr. Trump is covering up his collusion with Russia and his obstruction of justice, and thus Mr. McGahn must be scrambling to save himself.
Yet lost in the resulting tempest is a crucial fact that appears to contradict this spin: Mr. Trump had to waive executive privilege for Mr. McGahn to cooperate with Mr. Mueller . . .
This in turn meant that Mr. McGahn would have to answer all of Mr. Mueller’s questions. Once privilege is waived, Mr. McGahn couldn’t decide to answer, say, what Mr. Trump told him about Attorney General Jeff Sessions but refuse to discuss the President’s state of mind when he fired James Comey at the FBI. Without invoking privilege there is no legal basis for Mr. McGahn to refuse to answer a question.
This isn’t what you’d expect if Mr. Trump is leading a coverup. Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton fought extensive legal battles with prosecutors over executive privilege. Mr. Clinton invoked privilege to block aides Bruce Lindsey and Sidney Blumenthal from testifying to Ken Starr’s grand jury.Yet when Mr. Trump doesn’t invoke privilege for his White House counsel, he gets no credit.
Exactly. Because the media have a particular storyline they are following. And Trump doing good things, or anything that might suggest he’s innocent, is not part of the story.