One thing you shouldn’t do if you’re under investigation, as a rule of thumb, is ask people who were interviewed by investigators how their meetings with the investigators went. If Donald Trump was ever informed about this rule, he didn’t listen.
According to a New York Times report on Wednesday night, special counsel Robert Mueller now knows about two conversations Trump had with former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and White House Counsel Don McGahn in which he asked them about matters related to the investigation. Trump reportedly asked McGahn to deny another Times article claiming that McGahn had told investigators that the president had asked him to fire Mueller. Here’s what happened next, according to the Times:
Mr. McGahn did not publicly deny the article, and the president later confronted him in the Oval Office in front of the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, according to the people.
The president said he had never ordered Mr. McGahn to fire the special counsel. Mr. McGahn replied that the president was wrong and that he had in fact asked Mr. McGahn in June to call the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, to tell him that the special counsel had a series of conflicts that disqualified him for overseeing the investigation and that he had to be dismissed. The president told Mr. McGahn that he did not remember the discussion that way.
The Times concluded that it’s “not clear how the confrontation was resolved,” but McGahn still works at the White House.
Trump also reportedly asked Priebus in December how his interview with investigators had gone, and, hilariously, if the investigators had been “nice.” Priebus reportedly replied that they had been “courteous and professional.”
While what Trump did isn’t exactly illegal, it’s consistent with a pattern of the president making himself look guilty as hell. “It makes it look like you’re cooking a story, and prosecutors are always looking out for it,” Georgetown law professor Julie R. O’Sullivan told the Times. “It can get at the issue of consciousness of guilt in an obstruction case because if you didn’t do anything wrong, why are you doing that?”