President Trump has already proven just how paranoid he is with his insistence that President Obama had “wiretapped” the phones in Trump Tower. However, he also appears to have passed that same level of paranoia on to other White House officials.
On Sunday, the New York Times published a report detailing tensions in the White House over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. The report notes that Trump’s legal team is struggling to decide how much they should cooperate with Mueller’s team, and this struggle culminated in an “angry confrontation” last week between two White House lawyers –Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, and Ty Cobb, a lawyer brought in to manage the Trump administration’s response to Mueller’s investigation.
About the argument between Cobb and McGahn, the Times said:
‘At the heart of the clash is an issue that has challenged multiple presidents during high-stakes Washington investigations: how to handle the demands of investigators without surrendering the institutional prerogatives of the office of the presidency.’
Cobb is a proponent of turning over as much information as possible in hopes of ending the investigation quickly. However, McGahn is concerned about setting a precedent that would weaken the White House after Trump’s tenure ends.
McGahn and Cobb don’t just disagree over how to handle Mueller’s investigation, though. They’re also reportedly concerned about other White House officials wearing wires to record information for Mueller.
A Times reporter also overheard Cobb recently talking about a White House lawyer whom he said was a “McGahn spy.” Cobb, who was having lunch at a popular Washington, D.C. steakhouse, also said that McGahn has “a couple documents locked in a safe” that he seemed to want access to.
‘The White House counsel’s office is being very conservative with this stuff. Our view is we’re not hiding anything. [McGahn]’s got a couple documents locked in a safe.’
The Times contacted the White House after overhearing the conversation, and McGahn reportedly “erupted” at Cobb in private over his remarks. White House insiders said that Trump’s Chief of Staff, John Kelly, also reprimanded Cobb for his indiscretion.
During an interview that took place over the weekend, Cobb praised McGahn and tried to dispel rumors that they are at odds with each other.
‘He has been very helpful to me, and whenever we have differences of opinion, we have been able to work them out professionally and reach consensus. We have different roles. He has a much fuller plate. But we’re both devoted to this White House and getting as much done on behalf of the presidency as possible.’
Cobb may have tried to smooth things over this weekend, but the damage is done. As Mueller’s investigation continues, it seems that the paranoia shared by Trump and his associates is only going to get worse.
McGahn is concerned about the president looking weak by cooperating with Mueller’s requests, but he doesn’t seem to realize that, with reports out there of Trump officials accusing each other of spying, the White House is already sending the message that it is crumbling from within.
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images.