Trump’s New Strategy for Responding to Robert Mueller

they are pursuing a fresh line of attack in public, shifting from proclaiming the president’s innocence to attempting to undermine the probe itself.

.. Giuliani tried to filibuster Cuomo from playing an old video clip where he contradicted his own comments from 1998 about whether the president can be subpoenaed.

.. Giuliani previously said that he’d negotiate an end to the probe within a week or two, which didn’t happen, and the president said he was wrong about some aspects of a reimbursement to former fixer Michael Cohen. But Giuliani’s remarks make clear that far from ruling out an interview, the president’s team continues to work toward a meeting with Mueller.

.. it was only two months ago that Trump first singled Mueller out by name in a tweet.

.. The new strategy, particularly as demonstrated by Giuliani on CNN, follows three prongs.

  1. First, impugn the investigators themselves.
  2. Second, argue that the investigation was tainted from the start.
  3. Third, argue that Mueller cannot indict Trump anyway.

.. The Cobb-Dowd strategy began with the assumption that Trump had nothing to hide. The new strategy, however, seems to take as its premise that Trump is guilty of at least something.

..

Mueller, a lifelong Republican who has served presidents of both parties, is a tougher case to make, so Trump has simply lied, claiming for example that Mueller worked for Barack Obama for eight years. Mueller was FBI director for nearly five years under Obama, having been appointed by George W. Bush.

.. Giuliani, for his part, has referred to officials in the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, both of which he praised in the recent past, as “storm troopers.”
.. They argue that the fact that the FBI was investigating Trump as far back as 2016 shows not only political motivation, but also that there is nothing to investigate.
.. The setting of arbitrary timelines is a common motif. Trump has repeatedly said there is no evidence of collusion, even as two of his former aides have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with the Russians, and despite the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and others. Giuliani on Friday charged that Mueller’s probe “$20 million later has come up with nothing,” when in fact the investigation has been unusually prolific.

.. It may or may not be true that DOJ placed a spy in the Trump campaign, but there’s no public evidence for it. Someone inside informing the FBI about goings-on is not the same as the Justice Department sending someone under cover. Nor is it scandalous for law enforcement to use legal methods to investigate possible crimes.

.. We’ve heard this again and again. First, Trump claimed that Obama had “tapped” Trump’s “wires” during the campaign. This remark turned out to be nonsense, the result of a game of speculation in conservative media. Trump’s Justice Department said it was not true. Later, when it became clear that Manafort had been surveilled, some of Trump’s defenders claimed it vindicated his wiretap claim, which it did not, as I explained at the time. That’s a good reason to take the most recent claims skeptically, too. When Cuomo pointed out that Trump has often said false things, Giuliani blustered, “That’s a disgraceful comment about the president of the United States.” But he didn’t say Cuomo was wrong.
.. if anyone did commit crimes, they were being entrapped and led into crimes by DOJ infiltrators who sought to take down Trump’s campaign.
.. One doesn’t talk about whether or not one’s client can be indicted unless one believes that one’s client is likely to have committed some indictable crime. But the presumption of guilt has increasingly suffused the message of Trump defenders over the last month. It also surges through repeated warnings from Trump allies that Mueller might try to catch the president in a “perjury trap,” as though Trump could not avoid that by telling the truth.
.. The president appreciates aggressive media responses, and Giuliani is to a certain extent just aping the president’s own words.

s A woman approached The Post with dramatic — and false — tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation.

A woman who falsely claimed to The Washington Post that Roy Moore, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, impregnated her as a teenager appears to work with an organization that uses deceptive tactics to secretly record conversations in an effort to embarrass its targets.

In a series of interviews over two weeks, the woman shared a dramatic story about an alleged sexual relationship with Moore in 1992 that led to an abortion when she was 15. During the interviews, she repeatedly pressed Post reporters to give their opinions on the effects that her claims could have on Moore’s candidacy if she went public.

..  The organization sets up undercover “stings” that involve using false cover stories and covert video recordings meant to expose what the group says is media bias.

.. O’Keefe declined to answer repeated questions about whether the woman was employed at Project Veritas. He also did not respond when asked if he was working with Moore, former White House adviser and Moore supporter Stephen K. Bannon, or Republican strategists.

.. After Phillips was observed entering the Project Veritas office, The Post made the unusual decision to report her previous off-the-record comments.

“We always honor ‘off-the-record’ agreements when they’re entered into in good faith,” said Martin Baron, The Post’s executive editor. “But this so-called off-the-record conversation was the essence of a scheme to deceive and embarrass us. The intent by Project Veritas clearly was to publicize the conversation if we fell for the trap. Because of our customary journalistic rigor, we weren’t fooled, and we can’t honor an ‘off-the-record’ agreement that was solicited in maliciously bad faith.”

.. That same day, Gateway Pundit, a conservative site, spread a false story from a Twitter account, @umpire43, that said, “A family friend in Alabama just told my wife that a WAPO reporter named Beth offer her 1000$ to accuse Roy Moore.” The Twitter account, which has a history of spreading misinformation, has since been deleted.

..  Nov. 14, a pastor in Alabama said he received a voice mail from a man falsely claiming to be a Post reporter and seeking women “willing to make damaging remarks” about Moore for money. No one associated with The Post made any such call.

.. When Reinhard suggested bringing another reporter, Phillips wrote, “I’m not really comfortable with anyone else being there this time.”

.. Phillips also repeatedly asked the reporter to guarantee her that Moore would lose the election if she came forward. Reinhard told her in a subsequent text message that she could not predict what the impact would be. Reinhard said she also explained to Phillips that her claims would have to be fact-checked. Additionally, Reinhard asked her for documents that would corroborate or support her story.

.. Phillips had said she lived in Alabama only for a summer while a teenager, but the cellphone number Phillips provided had an Alabama area code.

Reinhard called NFM Lending in Westchester County, but they said a person named Jaime Phillips did not work there.

.. Also working at Veritas is former television producer Robert J. Halderman, who was sentenced to six months in jail in 2010 after he was accused of trying to blackmail late-night host David Letterman.

..  When McCrummen put her purse near Phillips’s purse to block a possible camera, Phillips moved hers.

.. Phillips said she didn’t want to get into the details of what she had said happened between her and Moore.

.. When asked who at the Daily Caller interviewed her, Phillips said, “Kathy,” pausing before adding the last name, “Johnson.”

Paul Conner, executive editor of the Daily Caller, said Monday that no one with the name Kathy Johnson works for the publication and that he has no record of having personally interviewed Phillips

.. As the interview ended, Phillips told McCrummen she was not recording the conversation.

“I think I probably just want to cancel and not go through with it at this point,”

.. “I’m not going to answer any more questions,” she said. “I think I’m just going to go.”

.. By 7 p.m. the message on the GoFundMe page was gone, replaced by a new one.

“Campaign is complete and no longer active,” it read.

Why the Equifax Breach Stings So Bad

Among the 2,000 or so enraged messages that I received after the most recent Equifax data breach, the wish that came up most often was that Richard F. Smith, the company’s chief executive, be pushed out the door.

But the messages also reflected something I had not seen before, not even after the scandals at Wells Fargo and Volkswagen, even though those companies committed similarly egregious offenses. It was a sense of helplessness, the recognition that we are at the mercy of an industry that makes money off our data, treats us with disdain and answers to no one.

.. “It’s going to dawn on people that we are defined by these descriptors, markers and measures, but we have no meaningful informational rights to them or over them,” Sarah Bloom Raskin, who served as deputy Treasury secretary during the Obama administration

.. The credit reporting industry begins with a sort of entrapment, said Amanda Steinberg, chief executive of DailyWorth, a financial website geared toward women,

.. If you want to do business with just about any financial services company, you must agree to allow it to report your payment history to the credit reporting agencies.

.. But there does not appear to be any way to step out of the system unless you can live a life completely free of the need for credit, mobile phones and many jobs (since employers often make a credit check a condition of employment).

.. Equifax persisted for days in charging many people for the privilege of freezing their credit files.

.. Richard Russell of the Bronx questioned whether Equifax might have an incentive to be casual about security so that it could turn around later and charge what amounted amounts to protection money. “Isn’t that what this credit freeze is essentially?” he asked in an email to me this week. “In many parts of the world, this would be labeled extortion.”

.. Equifax has not directly informed people who may have been affected by the breach. It could send them letters, but it has chosen not to so far.

.. Consider the revelation that the president of Equifax’s information solutions unit in the United States and its chief financial officer sold stock after the breach was discovered but before it was made public. If they knew about the break-in, they violated insider trading laws. The company says they did not know.

.. In what sort of company would Mr. Information Systems and Mr. Money not be in the loop on a problem like this? “That’s also horrifying,” said Cristi Page of San Diego. “They’re either unethical or they’re incompetent. Neither of those inspire much confidence.”