Donald Trump
Credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/flickr

As Martin wrote yesterday, “it’s kind of odd that anyone leaked” the questions Mueller planned to ask Trump if he sat down for an interview with the special counsel. But since then the Washington Post laid out the series of events that led to the leak.

  1. On March 5th, Trump’s lawyers met with Mueller and claimed the president had no obligation to answer questions from the special counsel.
  2. Mueller shot back that he could subpoena Trump to appear before a grand jury.
  3. Subsequently, Mueller agreed to provide Trump’s lawyers with “specific information about the subjects that prosecutors wished to discuss with the president.”
  4. Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s lawyers, took the specifics Mueller provided and compiled the list of 49 questions that were eventually leaked to the New York Times.

In other words, these specific questions were the product of Trump’s legal team, not the Mueller investigation. Obviously one of the president’s lawyers leaked them. The only remaining question is why they would do that. The Washington Post also provided an answer to that one.

For his part, Trump fumed when he saw the breadth of the questions that emerged out of the talks with Mueller’s team, according to two White House officials.

The president and several advisers now plan to point to the list as evidence that Mueller has strayed beyond his mandate and is overreaching, they said.

“He wants to hammer that,” according to a person who spoke to Trump on Monday.

Let the hammering commence…

Trump’s legal team leaked the questions, probably at the president’s request. He then railed about the “disgraceful” leak and twisted the questions in an attempt to tarnish the entire investigation.

It has become a truism that every move the president has made since this investigation began is the opposite of how an innocent person would react. Everything Trump has done points to the fact that he is guilty as hell and shooting for the rafters to save his skin. This one is no exception.

I would remind you of what Tony Swartz wrote about this president:

Trump grew up fighting for his life and taking no prisoners. In countless conversations, he made clear to me that he treated every encounter as a contest he had to win, because the only other option from his perspective was to lose, and that was the equivalent of obliteration.

So buckle up everybody. As Marty just said: “The cooperative phase is ending, and the constitutional crisis phase will now commence.”

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.