The pressure of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign and administration has reached such levels, reports The New York Times, that “White House officials privately express fear that colleagues may be wearing a wire to surreptitiously record conversations” on Mueller’s behalf.
The thing is, sometimes it’s good to be a little paranoid. Especially if you’re dealing with sensitive topics, working for the president, and eating at a popular steakhouse. And especially if that restaurant is near the Times Washington bureau. Yet there were Ty Cobb and John Dowd, two lawyers for President Trump, speaking loudly within earshot of reporter Ken Vogel:
“The White House counsel’s office is being very conservative with this stuff,” Mr. Cobb told Mr. Dowd. “Our view is we’re not hiding anything.” Referring to Mr. McGahn, he added, “He’s got a couple documents locked in a safe.”
Mr. Cobb expressed concern about another White House lawyer he did not name. “I’ve got some reservations about one of them,” Mr. Cobb said. “I think he’s like a McGahn spy.”
The overheard conversation revealed a split between Donald McGahn, the White House counsel, and Cobb, an outside counsel hired to work at the White House. Dowd, who recommended hiring Cobb, is Trump’s personal lawyer. Cobb reportedly favors turning over as many documents as possible, as quickly as possible, to Mueller’s investigators. McGahn, while favoring cooperating with Mueller, is said to be cautious about actions that he thinks would make it harder for Trump or his successors to claim executive privilege in the future. (Cobb insisted to the Times that he has great respect for McGahn.)
Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, but his commission grants him wide latitude to probe other crimes, and he seems to be looking at business dealings of Trump and some of his associates. There are also indications he’s considering whether the president obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey.