Speed Reads

Trump-Russia

Mueller's investigation is reportedly sparking White House legal drama, intrigue, mutual suspicion

In recent days, a New York Times reporter happened to be seated next to Ty Cobb and John Dowd, two of President Trump's top lawyers handling the investigation into Russian election interference and the Trump campaign, during lunch at a popular Washington, D.C., steakhouse, and Cobb was overheard alluding to the tensions with White House Counsel Don McGahn, The New York Times reported Sunday night.

Cobb discussed an unidentified White House lawyer he believes to be "a McGahn spy," suggested he would like access to "a couple of documents locked in a safe" in McGahn's office, and spoke of a colleague he blamed for "some of these earlier leaks" who also "tried to push Jared out," apparently affirming earlier reporting that some of Trump's legal team wanted the president's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to step down, the Times recounts. After the Times contacted the White House for comment, McGahn "privately erupted" at Cobb, the Times adds, citing "people informed about the confrontation," and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly "sharply reprimanded" Cobb for being indiscreet. Cobb and Dowd told the Times they have nothing but respect for McGahn and his skills, noting that his job is different than theirs.

The tensions all stem from the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and how best to respond. Cobb reportedly wants to turn over as many requested documents and emails as possible to end the investigation quickly; McGahn also advocates cooperating but is apparently concerned about preserving executive power and prerogatives and believes Cobb is naive to believe he can protect Trump from Mueller, who has hired 17 prosecutors. The Times then drops in this little tidbit:

Tension between the two comes as life in the White House is shadowed by the investigation. Not only do Mr. Trump, Mr. Kushner, and Mr. McGahn all have lawyers, but so do other senior officials. The uncertainty has grown to the point that White House officials privately express fear that colleagues may be wearing a wire to surreptitiously record conversations for Mr. Mueller. [The New York Times]

You can read more about the internal White House tensions, legal and otherwise, at The New York Times.