Michael Wolff made a killing on his last book on Donald Trump despite denials from his sources as to key statements. He is now back with a sequel entitled “Siege: Trump Under Fire.” As before, there were instantly questions about Wolff’s standards and sources in making sensational claims. Two such claims immediately stood out as highly dubious, if not facially untrue. The Special Counsel’s office has already made a rare public denial of one of those claims: that Mueller’s office actually drafted indictments against Trump for obstruction of justice.
The New York Times reported on the new book as coming out “despite lingering questions about its accuracy.”
While Mueller’s office categorically denied the claim, Wolff insisted ‘My source is impeccable, and I have no doubt about the authenticity and the significance of the documents.”
There are a couple of glaring questions on the allegation. First, it says that Andrew Weissman led the effort to draft the indictment but the New York Times confirmed that Weissman did not work on the obstruction part of the investigation. More importantly, Wolff says that the three count indictment was brought under three separate provisions: Section 1505, Section 1512 and Section 1513 of Title 18 of the United States code.
If true, the Mueller team was contemplating an exceptionally weak case against Trump. I have written multiple columns on the obstruction provisions (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here) and explained why the only provision that would appear relevant would be not Section 1512. I also testified on the provisions before Congress. That is the section that we have all been debating and, as noted in Bill Barr’s memo, even that section is questionable and untested as a basis for prosecution in this context. Neither Section 1505 or 1513 have been raised in serious discussions.
The second claim is that Barr needed to be Attorney General because he viewed the job as “payday” and a way to make “millions.” The claim is facially absurd. Barr has disclosed over $22 million in assets.
He would be better off claiming that Barr took the job for the free parking. This is why Wolff makes most impressionist painters look like Rockwells.