Washington was awaken this morning with our now regular sound of a tweet from the President. At 6:55 am, President Donald Trump blasted the report that Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating him for obstruction of justice. He called the whole thing based on a “phony story” — a likely dig at former FBI Director James Comey. I previously raised my concern about the alleged leak from the Special Counsel’s office. The fact that the office is investigating obstruction is hardly news. Even those of us who have expressed substantial reservations about the legal basis for an obstruction charge against the President have said that there was ample reason to investigate such allegations. However, the leak in the Washington Post undermines the credibility not of the President but the Special Counsel. Similarly, I have previously said that these tweets from the President are highly damaging to both his public and legal case. Recent polling finds that only one in five voters support Trump’s firing of Comey and a majority now believe that he did meddle in the Russian investigation.
This morning, the following tweet flew out of the White House:
Once again, the tweet is not without foundation. There is no known proof of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. I have been openly skeptical about the claims and openly critical of the treatment officials like Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the controversy. However, that is not the point. Trump is the focus of a criminal investigation and it is exceptionally poor judgment to be tweeting about the investigation.
Trump then an hour later called the investigation by Mueller a witch hunt:
Trump has repeatedly lambasted the Russia probe as a “witch hunt,” using the phrase in at least eight tweets since March.
These tweets and prior alleged statements adds to questions over the role of White House Counsel Don McGahn. If the President repeatedly raised the investigation with Comey and others, it would presumably have occurred over the fierce objections of counsel. That leads to the question of whether Trump is simply not consulting with the White House Counsel — a deeply troubling concern in itself. These continued tweets only magnifies the concern over whether McGahn is able to offer effective counseling to the President. Worse yet, an obstruction investigation may invariably lead to McGahn and what he has advised the President — making him a potential witness. There are obviously confidentiality and privilege issues in such inquiries. However, there are also crime and fraud exceptions to such claims. McGahn is an experienced and accomplished lawyer. He knows how to handle himself in such investigation. Yet, the President’s continued discussion (and alleged intervention) into aspects of the investigation could put his position under great scrutiny.