Donald Trump went on the offensive on Sunday, invoking the spectres of Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy, starkly polarising figures from American history, in a frenzied attack on the New York Times.
The president’s rage was stoked by a bombshell report that said White House counsel Don McGahn has cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation of Russian election interference, links between Trump aides and Moscow, and potential obstruction of justice.
The president both called the Times report “fake” and confirmed its substance.
Repeating a spelling mistake made in his initial response on Saturday, when the report was published online, Trump wrote: “The failing [New York Times] wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel [sic] Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel [sic], he must be a John Dean type ‘RAT.’”
Dean was White House counsel to Nixon during Watergate. He testified against the president, pled guilty to obstruction of justice and was held at an army base. He spoke on Saturday to Slate.
“Don McGahn is doing exactly the right thing,” Dean said, “not merely to protect himself, but to protect his client. And his client is not Donald Trump; his client is the office of the president.”
The Times said McGahn had spoken to Mueller’s team for a total of 30 hours, on the advice of Trump’s first lawyers in the Russia investigation. McGahn shared some information investigators would not otherwise have known, the Times said, about events including Trump’s attempts to fire Mueller.
Watergate was one bungled event after another. I see the same thing happening with Trump
In a separate report, Reuters said a person familiar with the matter did not believe McGahn provided incriminating information about the president and had not seen or heard anything that amounted to obstruction of justice by Trump.
Nonetheless, Trump said on Sunday that the Times “wrote a story that made it seem like the White House Councel [sic] had TURNED on the President, when in fact it is just the opposite – & the two Fake reporters knew this. This is why the Fake News Media has become the Enemy of the People. So bad for America!”
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