One of the unique characteristics of Donald Trump’s criminal behavior is that, unlike most other criminals, he actually ends up admitting his wrongdoing in public and insisting that there’s nothing wrong with it. That was surprisingly well demonstrated on Thursday when he told George Stephanopoulos that he would happily accept and disseminate dirt on his political opponents, which is against the law.
And one of the reasons that Trump is so comfortable making such public confessions is that he knows he has Fox News (aka State TV) to clean up after him. That’s what took place on Friday morning when the President did another call-in interview with the devoted Trump-fluffers on Fox and Friends. It was easily predictable that Trump would book this segment following a gaffe that was essentially an admission of treason.
However, even that brownnosing do-over was stepped on by Trump himself with the release of another clip from the Stephanopoulos interview. In this discussion Trump launched into a familiar and tedious denial that he ever sought to have special counsel Robert Mueller fired. That’s a claim that has been refuted by several of his close aides, including his White House Counsel, Don McGahn. Stephanopoulos noted that McGahn had testified to Mueller that Trump did ask him to talk to the Justice Department and make it clear to them that Mueller “had to go.” Which led to this incriminating exchange (video below):
Trump: I don’t care what he said. It doesn’t matter. That was to show everyone what a good counsel he was.
Stephanopoulos: But why would he lie under oath to Robert Mueller?
Trump: Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer. Or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen, including you, including the media, that Robert Mueller was conflicted.
First of all, when Stephanopoulos asked why McGahn would lie under oath, Trump didn’t reject that premise. In fact, he attempted to justify it. So Trump is accusing his White House counsel of committing criminal perjury. It will interesting to see if Attorney General William Barr will now open an investigation into that and issue an indictment for McGahn. (Don’t hold your breath). Because either McGahn is guilty of perjury, or Trump is lying about it.
Secondly, Trump’s first explanation for McGahn’s alleged perjury is that McGahn was seeking to “make himself look like a good lawyer.” How? By lying under oath? How does it burnish his credibility to implicate Trump in a scheme to fire Mueller? Trump is apparently conceding that testimony linking Trump to obstruction of justice is the honorable thing to do. Of course it is. Telling the truth would surely cast a positive glow on McGahn or any other witness. But accusing McGahn of doing the right thing is an odd defense from Trump’s perspective.
Finally, Trump’s other explanation for McGahn’s testimony is that McGahn, and “anybody that would listen,” were deluged with complaints by Trump that Mueller was conflicted. That assertion has always been a deliberate lie on Trump’s part. But his admission here that he has been inundating everyone around him with that allegation could itself be construed as obstruction of justice. He’s trying to materially harm the investigation by falsely impugning the integrity of the special counsel.
So Trump is providing a perverse set of arguments in his defense. On one hand, Trump thinks that his White House counsel is a perjurer for having told the truth about him. On the other, Trump is obstructing justice by lying about Mueller. And if you’re having trouble figuring that out, or why Trump would be asserting such a preposterous defense, it just means that you’re a normal, logical person. Unlike the sociopathic narcissist currently residing in the White House.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) June 14, 2019