Are Trump’s Lawyers Incompetent or Are They Manipulating His Delusions?

Ashley Parker and Carol Leonnig have an interesting look at how people in the White House are handling the Mueller investigation.

Some in the West Wing avoid the mere mention of Russia or the investigation whenever possible. Others take solace in the reassurances of White House lawyer Ty Cobb that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will be wrapping up the probe soon and the president and those close to him will be exonerated. And a few engage in grim gallows humor, privately joking about wiretaps.

Later in the article, they expound on the reassurances coming from Ty Cobb.

The president himself, however, has warmed to Cobb’s optimistic message on Mueller’s probe. Cobb had initially said he hoped the focus on the White House would conclude by Thanksgiving, but adjusted the timeline slightly in an interview last week, saying he remains optimistic that it will wrap up by the end of the year, if not shortly thereafter.

That bit about it all being over by Thanksgiving, or even the end of the year, is disputed by experts who are watching the investigation unfold.

In fact, legal experts and private defense lawyers monitoring the case believe that Mueller’s investigation — which officially began in May and resulted in its first charges against three former campaign aides last month — is still in its early stages.

They expect that the prosecutors have considerable investigative work still to do, and they predict more campaign officials, among others, will face charges. They expect the probe to extend deep into 2018 and possibly longer.

As I was reading these accounts, I began to wonder if Trump’s lawyers are as incompetent as their assurances make them look. The other possibility is that they know their client is prone to delusional thinking and are using that as a way to inhibit his tendencies to go off and do something stupid because he feels threatened. If that’s the case, they’re basically telling the president, “Don’t worry, this will all be over soon,” which feeds his delusion that the charges are all a hoax dreamed up by Democrats. Either way, it sounds like Trump is buying their line, which signals a possible explosion down the line when he finally has to face the truth.

This is all a sad commentary on the current president. He has either hired lawyers that are seriously incompetent—something that wouldn’t be surprising considering some of his other hires, or his lawyers are manipulating his delusional tendencies to keep his impulsiveness in check.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.