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Inside Trump’s maelstrom

Inside Trump's maelstrom

by digby



The pressure is too much for Orange Julius Caesar:

In recent weeks, Donald Trump has privately expressed doubts about White House lawyer Don McGahn’s loyalty. Trump has vented to aides that McGahn doesn’t support the House Freedom Caucus’s quixotic campaign to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—a bank shot that would leave Robert Mueller unprotected. McGahn has also clashed with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, whom one Republican said McGahn “hates with the intensity of 1,000 burning suns.” There has been talk of Trump replacing McGahn with his outside lawyer Emmet Flood.

But The New York Times’ revelation that McGahn had spoken for more than 30 hours with Mueller’s investigators has rattled Trump and the West Wing to the core, according to three of Trump’s outside advisers, causing Trump to ratchet up his Twitter war on Mueller to new heights. Over the weekend, Jared Kushner described Trump’s mood as “rip-shit,” according to one of the advisers. “Total meltdown” was how another adviser put it. “He’s extremely frustrated,” a Republican close to the White House said.

The biggest fear rippling through the West Wing is that no one knows what McGahn told Mueller during his multiple interviews. “Trump didn’t know how many hours it was,” one Republican briefed on Trump’s thinking said. Last night, The Washington Post reported that McGahn’s lawyer, Bill Burck, has been doing damage control, telling the White House that McGahn did not “incriminate” Trump. That’s provided little solace to Trump and West Wing aides. “You have to understand McGahn kept notes on every single meeting with Trump,” one former West Wing official said. “There’s no way this guy is going to protect him.” (A person close to McGahn disputed that McGahn took extensive notes of his meetings with Trump, but added that McGahn has only provided Trump’s lawyers a “high-level summary” of his comments to Mueller.) Trump also views McGahn as a “[Reince] Priebus guy,” shorthand for being a member of the Republican establishment of which Trump remains suspicious.

Since news broke of McGahn’s extensive cooperation with Mueller, Trump has been lashing out on Twitter. “He’s got to frame the narrative. He thinks the media is like a shark: you’re either feeding it or it eats you,” one Republican close to the White House said. Privately, Trump blames his precarious position on the people who work for him. Trump’s fury at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, already raging, has been stoked thanks to Sessions’s refusal to resign after months of public abuse. “You can’t talk to Trump without him bringing up Sessions,” one adviser said.

Trump’s frustration with Sessions has even caused him to turn on Giuliani. Over the weekend, Trump blamed Giuliani for the entire Russia probe. According to a person to whom the conversation was described, Trump loudly said to his lawyer: “It’s your fault! I offered you attorney general, but you insisted on being secretary of state. Had I picked you none of this would be happening.” (The White House declined to comment.)

A lot of what’s driving Trump’s ire, White House advisers said, is Trump’s growing realization that his previous legal team, Ty Cobb and John Dowd, made a strategic error in waiving executive privilege to cooperate fully with Mueller. But Trump being Trump, he won’t admit to making this mistake, so he directs blame onto others. Another theory for what’s motivating Trump’s increasingly unhinged tweets is that Mueller may be closing in on his son Don Jr. “A lot of what Trump is doing is based on the fact [that] Mueller is going after Don Jr.,” a person close to the Trump family told me. “They’re squeezing Don Jr. right now.”


Oh my, my, my.

I have sometimes wondered if that overheard" discussion between Dowd and Cobb wasn't a set-up. How lame can any lawyer be to speak freely in an outdoor cafe right next to the New York Times. Now that we know McGahn understood it to mean that Trump was setting him up to take the fall, it makes me wonder even more.

Of course, Occam's Razor says that it's just another example of Trump's "best people" being hired and they just screwed it all up...