President Donald Trump reacted angrily Sunday to a new report that the White House counsel has cooperated extensively in the Russia investigation without Trump’s full knowledge, calling it a “Fake Story” and comparing the probe to McCarthyism.
In tweets, the president lashed out at a New York Times report that White House lawyer Donald McGahn had participated in at least three interviews with special counsel Robert Mueller that spanned 30 hours.
McGahn has offered detailed accounts of “episodes at the heart of the inquiry” over whether Trump and his aides sought to obstruct justice, the Times reported, motivated in part by the fear the president might set him up to be held responsible.
The president suggested that McGahn had his full support to talk with Mueller.
“The Failing New York Times wrote a story that made it seem like the White House Councel had TURNED on the President, when in fact it is just the opposite – & the two Fake reporters knew this. This is why the Fake News Media has become the Enemy of the People. So bad for America!,” Trump tweeted.
Trump emphasized he has authorized his aides to cooperate with Mueller. The president’s initial legal team had believed that strategy could bring a quick end to the probe. “I have nothing to hide,” Trump wrote in one tweet.
But the Times reported that McGahn was caught off guard by that decision and developed his own strategy to protect his own legal liability and demonstrate he had done nothing wrong.
“It is not clear that Mr. Trump appreciates the extent to which Mr. McGahn has cooperated with the special counsel,” the Times reported. “The president wrongly believed that Mr. McGahn would act as a personal lawyer would for clients and solely defend his interests to investigators, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking.”
“Some members of the media are very Angry at the Fake Story in the New York Times. They actually called to complain and apologize – a big step forward. From the day I announced, the Times has been Fake News, and with their disgusting new Board Member, it will only get worse!,” the president tweeted.
Trump compared Mueller’s investigation to the tactics employed by the late senator Joseph McCarthy, who alleged that communist agents and Soviet spies had infiltrated the U.S. government, accusing some of treason without evidence. Some of Trump’s critics have suggested it is the president, who last week stripped the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan and has vowed to pursue similar actions against a list of other critics, is the one who is acting like McCarthy.
“Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!,” he tweeted.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · David Nakamura