Trump rewrites history as Russia probe pressure mounts

The looming verdict for President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman and new questions about what exact...

Posted: Aug 20, 2018 2:13 PM
Updated: Aug 20, 2018 2:13 PM

The looming verdict for President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman and new questions about what exactly the White House counsel told special counsel investigators, combined with Trump's increasingly combustible Twitter feed, have put the feeling of climax in the air.

Jury deliberations in Paul Manafort's first (of two) trials are expected to end this week, and whether special counsel Robert Mueller can secure a guilty verdict against the man who led Trump's campaign will be a pivotal moment for the probe, which Trump continues to attack as a "witch hunt."

Communism

Continents and regions

Don McGahn

Donald Trump

Eastern Europe

Europe

Forms of government

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Investigations

Michael Cohen

Misc people

Political Figures - US

Politics

Richard Nixon

Robert Mueller

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

US federal government

White House

Companies

Court trials

Law and legal system

Trial and procedure

Twitter

Donald McGahn

Elections and campaigns

Rudy Giuliani

Alongside the news that White House counsel Don McGahn spent more than 30 hours with investigators, it seems that Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and possible conspiracy has tentacles that could be moving in directions the public does not yet understand.

A source told CNN that McGahn did not provide information that would be incriminating to the President, but Trump's lawyers also admitted they did not get a readout from the top White House lawyer about what he said.

It bears mentioning on a daily basis that no matter what happens, Trump's presidency will make history; the US has never encountered an administration like Trump's, where the chief executive is convinced the government he leads is out to get him.

And history was much on Trump's mind as he dispatched his takes on Watergate and McCarthyism on his Twitter feed over the weekend.

Rewriting history

Trump was alleging McCarthyism over the weekend, but it's the Watergate comparisons he rejects that seem to be sticking.

It was Richard Nixon's White House counsel John Dean who flipped on Nixon and helped bring him down. In Trump's telling, Dean is a villain of the Watergate saga because he told the truth about his boss, the president.

Trump called Dean a "RAT" on Twitter on Sunday and denied the comparison, but The New York Times reported officials in Trump's legal team don't actually know what McGahn might have said before Mueller's team.

Trump's legal team on Monday was trying to clean up an odd declaration by Rudy Giuliani over the weekend that "truth isn't truth" as he sought to explain why Trump shouldn't testify before Mueller because he could get caught in a lie.

"When you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he's going to tell the truth and he shouldn't worry, well, that's so silly because it's somebody's version of the truth. Not the truth," Giuliani told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday morning during "Meet the Press."

By Monday Giuliani was recalibrating on Twitter:

"My statement was not meant as a pontification on moral theology but one referring to the situation where two people make precisely contradictory statements, the classic "he said,she said" puzzle. Sometimes further inquiry can reveal the truth other times it doesn't."

Studying McCarthyism

Watergate wasn't the only history Trump was rewriting Sunday, as he tried to paint Mueller as a latter-day Joseph McCarthy, the notorious anti-Communist crusader of the 1950s whose name became a stand-in for government overreach.

Coincidentally, Giuliani made sure to wonder how Trump's other new favorite foe, former CIA Director John Brennan, became CIA director even though he once voted for a communist "in the midst of the Cold War."

Brennan has publicly talked about that vote -- for Gus Hall for president in the 1970s -- but Trump was more concerned with the '50s on Sunday.

"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!" Trump said on Twitter.

The President may very well have studied McCarthy; in New York in the '70s, Trump was a protege of Roy Cohn, the lawyer who decades earlier helped McCarthy try to root out communists and allege ties to the Soviet Union.

McCarthy's effort, now seen almost universally as a stain on the country, saw him and Cohn run wild as they ruined lives and ginned up the Red Scare, alleging a communist infiltration in the State Department and producing a list of names he said were the culprits. He later held hearings about alleged communist sympathies in the Army. (Stylistically, McCarthy's secret list of communists and the innuendo he used to frighten Americans with a communist conspiracy theory shares more similarities with Trump's allegations of a "deep state" and his growing list of current and former government officials, including Brennan, whose security clearances Trump has either revoked or is reviewing).

Cohn, by the way, later worked with Roger Stone, an early Trump political ally who now figures in the Mueller investigation.

Trump's ties to McCarthy are stronger than any comparison of McCarthy to Mueller, who is not a senator trying to use public hearings and reports for political gain, but rather a special counsel who by all accounts is proceeding quietly and methodically.

Verdict nears for former Trump campaign chief

The McCarthy allusion was the latest revisionist history lesson from Trump as the country waits for jurors to finish deliberating in the trial of Trump's former campaign chairman in Alexandria, Virginia, on tax evasion and fraud charges.

Earlier this month, Trump made the unwelcome comparison between that former campaign boss, Paul Manafort, and Al Capone, the infamous mob boss ultimately brought down by the IRS on tax evasion charges.

Meanwhile, it's unclear to everyone but Mueller and his team what they'll ultimately report. And it became clear this weekend, after Trump lashed out following a series of stories in The New York Times about White House counsel McGahn, who Trump says he early on encouraged him to cooperate with Mueller. The Times later wrote -- and a source confirmed to CNN -- that the White House is unclear what information McGahn may have shared with Mueller, a potentially frightening development for Trump, since McGahn could be witness to Trump's alleged efforts to quash quash or minimize the Russian investigation.

Don McGahn in the role of John Dean?

Trump lashed out in a two-part Twitter statement Sunday, mixing a Watergate allusion with another McCarthy one.

"The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type 'RAT.' But I allowed him and all others to testify - I didn't have to. I have nothing to hide......

"....and have demanded transparency so that this Rigged and Disgusting Witch Hunt can come to a close. So many lives have been ruined over nothing - McCarthyism at its WORST! Yet Mueller & his gang of Dems refuse to look at the real crimes on the other side - Media is even worse!"

Speaking later Sunday on CNN, Dean responded, saying he'd be honored to be on a list of Trump's enemies, and pointing out that Trump should worry about McGahn's testimony, since McGahn's role is to be the White House's lawyer, not Trump's.

"You've got to put this in a larger perspective," Dean said on CNN. "McGahn is doing what he should do, and what was resolved after Watergate as to who is the client of the White House counsel. The client was presumed when I was there to be Nixon. The president. Today, it's clear that it is not the case. It's the Office of the President he represents, and there can be real differences between the incumbent president and the office itself, and McGahn represents the office."

While he held the same White House title as McGahn, Dean is also featuring in another of the dramas that swirls around Trump and the current and former aides talking to authorities.

The attorney representing former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen told Politico he has been consulting Dean on a regular basis. Cohen, facing his own legal problems, has indicated he could cooperate with Mueller.

"I certainly don't want to raise expectations that Mr. Cohen has anything like the level of deep involvement and detailed knowledge that John Dean had in the Nixon White House as a witness to Nixon's crimes, but I did see some similarities and wanted to learn from what John went through," Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis told Politico.

Dean cooperated with prosecutors and ultimately testified about Nixon's misdeeds at the Watergate hearings and served four months in prison for his own obstruction of justice. It's not clear what role if any McGahn might play in Mueller's final report, whatever it might say, despite mounting pressure from Giuliani to get it out of the way before November elections.

Another historical note, since Trump is conflating Watergate and McCarthyism, is that a key ally of McCarthy's before his efforts went fully off the rails was none other than Richard Nixon.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct Paul Manafort's former title. He was Donald Trump's campaign chairman.

Terre Haute
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 91°
Robinson
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 95°
Indianapolis
Partly Cloudy
80° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 84°
Rockville
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 97°
Casey
Clear
87° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 99°
Brazil
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 91°
Marshall
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 91°
Hot, humid, and hazy.
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1407929

Reported Deaths: 25834
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook56116810553
DuPage933531321
Will777131042
Lake689761025
Kane59918816
Winnebago34589523
Madison32075533
St. Clair29670526
McHenry29452299
Peoria23620346
Champaign21446158
Sangamon19474245
McLean18765194
Tazewell17406308
Rock Island15345329
Kankakee14715224
Kendall13432100
LaSalle12904253
Macon11121214
DeKalb10235122
Vermilion10162154
Adams9386128
Williamson7963138
Whiteside7241174
Boone691180
Ogle627584
Grundy603379
Clinton585893
Coles5838101
Knox5712157
Jackson537465
Henry512970
Macoupin493389
Livingston493192
Woodford490783
Stephenson487286
Effingham480474
Franklin478178
Marion4686117
Jefferson4613123
Monroe447894
Randolph427687
Lee422554
Morgan410092
Fulton409659
Logan404665
Christian392575
Bureau384187
Montgomery383074
Iroquois326668
Perry326661
Fayette325256
McDonough302651
Jersey276652
Saline267557
Douglas262736
Union244141
Lawrence243627
Shelby234938
Crawford216826
Bond211524
Cass209527
Carroll204337
Pike197153
Ford192050
Hancock190832
Clark189034
Warren186250
Wayne185953
Jo Daviess183324
Richland179640
Edgar178942
White176426
Washington167625
Moultrie166328
Mason162647
De Witt160629
Piatt154914
Clay152943
Johnson152516
Greene151434
Mercer151334
Wabash145212
Massac140440
Cumberland130919
Menard126912
Jasper116818
Marshall109519
Hamilton87816
Schuyler8067
Brown8006
Pulaski7337
Stark65625
Edwards62012
Calhoun5352
Henderson53414
Scott5011
Putnam4933
Alexander48511
Gallatin4774
Hardin39412
Pope3384
Unassigned582432
Out of IL30

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 764448

Reported Deaths: 13965
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1049701803
Lake567981029
Allen42685698
St. Joseph37253568
Hamilton37131426
Elkhart29699470
Tippecanoe23347230
Vanderburgh23106404
Porter19538327
Johnson18755391
Hendricks18012321
Madison13463345
Clark13450198
Vigo12789255
LaPorte12533224
Monroe12494178
Delaware11100198
Howard10612237
Kosciusko9736123
Hancock8707149
Bartholomew8235157
Warrick8031157
Floyd7975181
Grant7337181
Wayne7222201
Boone7145105
Morgan6886142
Marshall6323116
Dubois6267118
Cass6083111
Dearborn598578
Noble595790
Henry5939111
Jackson514677
Shelby509097
Lawrence4901127
Gibson460696
Montgomery454492
Clinton453555
DeKalb451585
Harrison450576
Whitley414745
Huntington411781
Steuben409560
Miami404073
Jasper399455
Knox387091
Putnam383762
Wabash367383
Adams351656
Ripley350471
Jefferson340486
White338954
Daviess3084100
Wells302281
Greene292285
Decatur291493
Fayette285864
Posey280435
Scott278058
LaGrange276972
Clay273048
Washington252437
Randolph247083
Jennings238149
Spencer237531
Fountain233750
Starke229859
Owen221059
Sullivan219043
Fulton207645
Jay202832
Carroll196522
Orange190556
Perry189139
Vermillion179644
Rush177027
Franklin171635
Tipton171547
Parke153616
Pike141234
Blackford137832
Pulaski122948
Newton122436
Benton109215
Brown105743
Crawford105116
Martin92515
Warren87615
Switzerland8308
Union73510
Ohio58211
Unassigned0428