The Russia investigation has led to such heightened tensions at the White House that some officials worry their colleagues are wearing wires for special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a New York Times report published Sunday.
Two individuals particularly at odds are White House counsel Don McGahn and Ty Cobb, a lawyer brought in to handle the response to the investigation.
Cobb believes transparency is the best course of action—turning over any and all emails and documents Mueller requests to hopefully put an end to the investigation quickly, the Times reports. While McGahn, who does want to cooperate, thinks doing so would weaken the White House and set a bad precedent for future administrations.
But there’s not just tension between McGahn and Cobb, according to the report. The Russia investigation has cast a shadow over many senior officials at the White House, leading some officials to worry their conversations are being recorded.
Not only do Mr. Trump, Mr. Kushner and Mr. McGahn all have lawyers, but so do other senior officials. The uncertainty has grown to the point that White House officials privately express fear that colleagues may be wearing a wire to surreptitiously record conversations for Mr. Mueller. […]
The suspicion within the legal team seemed evident in the lunch conversation Mr. Cobb had last week with Mr. Dowd [Trump’s personal lawyer] at BLT Steak, not far from the White House and a few doors down from The Times’s office. A reporter who happened to be at the next table heard Mr. Cobb describing varying views of how to respond to Mr. Mueller’s requests for documents.
“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.” (NYT)
When asked by the Times about McGahn, Cobb spoke highly of him, calling him an “exceptional professional.” He also acknowledged they’re looking at the investigation from two different perspectives.
Dowd also told the Times the private conversation overheard at lunch was not being critical of McGahn and said it’s perfectly normal to have differences of opinion with regard to document requests.
“Assertions of privilege are the exception to the rule that the law is entitled to every man’s evidence, and in this instance it is critical in our judgment that the president be fully transparent with the special counsel in this inquiry,” Dowd said, reports the Times. “All this is getting worked out in a professional manner.”