Sam Nunberg appeared on CNN, and towards the end of a wild and wide-ranging interview with Jake Tapper, he seemed to ask the host for legal advice on whether he should comply with a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller.
“Do you think I should cooperate? Should I spend 80 hours going over my emails, Jake?” Nunberg asked.
.. It’s really rare for an interview subject to ask a journalist for legal advice — and speaking as a journalist, I’d say it’s an astonishingly bad idea too.
.. “I’m not a Donald Trump fan, as I told you before, okay? He treated me like crap,” and, “Trump may have very well done something during the election with the Russians, and if you find it out if he did that, I don’t know. If he did that, you know what, it’s inexcusable.”
.. It is not often we get to watch, live on television, a man simultaneously risk contempt of court and antagonize the one man who can pardon him.
.. CNN’s Erin Burnett awkwardly told Nunberg on-air that she could smell alcohol on him; Nunberg denied he had been drinking.
.. Page is the strange kind of man who is smart enough to get a master’s degree from Georgetown University and become an energy consultant with Merrill Lynch, but not smart enough to bring a lawyer with him when he testifies to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the House Intelligence Committee, or Mueller’s grand jury.
.. In October, Page agreed to appear on the program of MSNBC’s Chris Hayes — light-years away from being a “friendly interviewer” — and his answers were so breathtakingly forward that Hayes was left in disbelief: “I genuinely hope, Carter, that you are innocent of everything, because you are doing a lot of talking.”
.. Perhaps we could push aside Nunberg and Page and give the award for most self-destructive former Trump adviser to Steve Bannon, who invited Michael Wolff into the White House to gather material for his book Fire and Fury and seemed to think he could trash the president’s children on the record and live to tell the tale... a president who
- announces new trade tariffs without informing his own staff,
- runs an ongoing campaign of public humiliation against his own attorney general,
- tweets furiously about what he sees on cable news, publicly fumes in the morning about Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of him on Saturday Night Live.It’s as if the White House mess is serving Tide Pods... Ed Markey claimed, without any evidence, that a “grand jury has been impaneled up in New York” to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to the Russians... Congressman Ted Lieu speculated that a Republican campaign staffer’s suicide was secretly a result of foul play stemming from a conversation with former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn... People are asking, “How sane is Nunberg?” How sane are any of these people? How are cable-news networks supposed to assess the mental health of a former presidential aide when the baseline for “sane” has been adjusted downward so rapidly?
Trump fired Nunberg — a self-described protégé of political operative Roger Stone — in August 2015 after the disclosure of racially offensive Facebook posts he had written.
.. “Roger is my mentor. Roger is like family to me. I’m not going to do it,” Nunberg told MSNBC.
.. Nunberg also disobeyed requests from Mueller’s investigators to avoid publicly discussing his five-plus hour interview with Mueller’s team in Washington last month.
.. And he called “ridiculous” a question about whether he had ever heard anyone speak Russian in Trump’s office.
.. Nunberg speculated that the grand jury appearance he plans to skip on Friday was arranged in part so he could be asked about what he’s heard from senior Trump associates involving Trump’s attendance in 2013 at the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.
.. Nunberg said he’s spoken with Trump’s longtime security guard Keith Schiller about that Trump visit — specifically including what Nunbeg calls an offer by Trump’s Russian partners in staging the pageant to send prostitutes to his hotel room.
.. “Trump flat out refused it,” Nunberg said. “I can tell you that Trump is too smart to have women come up to his room.”
.. Disobeying a grand jury subpoena is considered civil contempt and can be the basis for arrest, and prosecutors typically respond with a motion asking the court to hold the witness in contempt.
.. Legal experts pointed to the precedent of Susan McDougal, a former Arkansas business partner of President Bill Clinton who spent 18 months in prison in the 1990s for civil contempt after refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating his Whitewater real estate deals.
.. Nunberg also has ties to one of Trump’s personal attorneys, Jay Sekulow, who he credits with helping him get his start in campaign politics.
.. Nunberg was working as a volunteer for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign when he first met Sekulow, who also is the chief counsel of the non-profit American Center for Law & Justice. Sekulow hired Nunberg to work in ACLJ’s New York office to help stop the construction of a mosque near the World Trade Center site.
.. Nunberg on why he’s saying no to Mueller:
Because what they said to me was absolutely ridiculous. They wanted every email I had with Roger Stone and with Steve Bannon. Why should I hand them emails from November 1, 2015. I was thinking about this today, Katy, I was preparing it. Should I spend 50 hours going over all my emails with Roger and with Steve Bannon. And then they wanted emails that I had with Hope Hicks, with Corey Lewandowski, are you — give me a break. It’s ridiculous.
.. Nunberg on the value of mentorship, loyalty:
I’m not going to cooperate when they want me to come in to a grand jury for them to insinuate that Roger Stone was colluding with Julian Assange. Roger is my mentor, Roger’s like family to me. I’m not going to do it.
.. Nunberg on some of the stuff that Mueller’s people had already asked him about:
You know what they asked — they asked things like, ‘Did you hear people speaking Russian in the Trump office?’ Katy, I did not hear people speaking Russian in the Trump office. They asked things like, ‘Did you hear about Trump Tower Moscow?’ No, I never heard about Trump Tower Moscow.
Last night’s Academy Awards featured a lot of generalities and not much inspiration or speaking truth to power.
Last night’s Academy Awards broadcast was Hollywood’s way of addressing the sexual-harassment scandal without really addressing it, discussing it without really discussing it, and assuring the public that all the worst stuff is in the past and that no one needs to worry about it anymore.
Yes, it was nice to see Ashley Judd and Annabella Sciorra again, up on stage alongside Salma Hayek. But no one involved in the ceremony could ever quite come out and say why those three were up on stage... The president’s defenses of protectionism are incoherent babble that is just factually wrong; Trump insists that “our Steel and Aluminum industries are dead” when the U.S. Department of Commerce figures show that since the beginning of 2009, the six major U.S. steel companies have collectively reported net earnings for 20 quarters... The president still hasn’t figured out that you can’t change government policy as quickly and impulsively as you type out and send a Tweet.
By midnight Wednesday, less than 12 hours before the executives were expected to arrive, no one on the president’s team had prepared any position paper for an announcement on tariff policy, the official said. In fact, according to the official, the White House counsel’s office had advised that they were as much as two weeks away from being able to complete a legal review on steel tariffs.
There were no prepared, approved remarks for the president to give at the planned meeting, there was no diplomatic strategy for how to alert foreign trade partners, there was no legislative strategy in place for informing Congress and no agreed upon communications plan beyond an email cobbled together by Ross’s team at the Commerce Department late Wednesday that had not been approved by the White House.
.. By Thursday afternoon, the U.S. stock market had fallen and Trump, surrounded by his senior advisers in the Oval Office, was said to be furious.
.. This reminds me of Steve Bannon’s “plan” to announce the immigration restrictions without any warning in the first days of Trump’s presidency. No one in the rest of the government was prepared to implement them; John Kelly, then the secretary of Homeland Security, learned from television that Trump had signed the order.
.. he’s flat-out wrong when he claims, “Maybe it’ll cost a little bit more, but we’ll have jobs.”
.. the decline of jobs in the steel and aluminum industries predates the competition with China by decades. Industry experts know that this is mostly because of innovation and industry consolidation. The era of labor-intensive metal production is over.
She did not — indeed could not — invoke executive privilege, a power that only Mr. Trump can wield to prevent disclosure of information to Congress. But she refused to answer anyway, as though executive privilege properly applied.
A self-respecting legislative branch would not allow executive-branch witnesses to so easily evade basic questioning, particularly when it concerns matters as important as the Russia investigation.
.. It is unjustifiable to use executive privilege when the White House communications director is asked about, say, the president’s involvement in crafting a deceptive public statement about his son’s infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer — or, for that matter, her own role in the episode.
.. When past presidents sought to prevent or limit disclosure, they typically either invoked executive privilege or worked out a deal with congressional investigators before taking that formal step. Now, top Trump administration officials are evading questions without the White House doing either.
.. Ms. Hicks’s behavior has not been isolated. Former Trump strategist Stephen K. Bannon was similarly uncooperative. Before the Senate this past June, Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained that he could not invoke executive privilege but that his refusal to answer certain questions protected “the right of the president to assert it if he chooses.” Even Corey Lewandowski, who never worked in the White House, was evasive.
.. Lawmakers at least followed up by subpoenaing Mr. Bannon, a step they failed to take with Ms. Hicks when she testified. But she is as deserving of a subpoena. Meanwhile, the House should move to hold Mr. Bannon in contempt for his continued foot-dragging, which would require the assent of Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).
.. Republicans held Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt when they were pursuing their trumped-up investigation of the “Fast and Furious” gunrunning scheme. Zealously defending the dignity of the legislative branch mattered to them when a Democrat was in the White House. And now?