When a very smart lawyer in the middle of an internal clash with another lawyer has lunch outside next to the New York Times, it is no accident. That’s essentially what Ty Cobb, the President’s lawyer, did.
He went to eat at a steakhouse right next to the office of the New York Times, sat exposed, and miracle of miracles an enterprising, highly competent reporter sat down at a neighboring table where he could hear the whole loud conversation.
Mr. Cobb may think he is serving his client, Donald Trump, but in so doing he is undermining Don McGahn’s client, the President of the United States. And Mr. McGahn’s client is more important than Mr. Cobb’s. Though presently embodied in the same person, Mr McGahn must worry about precedents that could undermine future Presidents. Mr. Cobb has no such worries.
Normally, the President’s personal counsel will adhere to the demands of the White House counsel to protect the institution of the Presidency. But now we have a situation where Mr. Cobb wishes to do a document drop and there are some that give Mr. McGahn pause. Thanks to a well ordered meal, Robert Mueller now knows that Mr. McGahn has documents in a safe that have not been handed over. There will now be a legal battle no doubt and it appears that may be what Mr. Cobb wants.
I can respect Mr. Cobb’s view that they should dump every document on the desk of Robert Mueller, show there is no attempt to hide and every attempt to help, and hope for a speedy resolution in Mr. Trump’s favor. But the Presidency is in play here and the White House counsel’s position will establish precedent not just for the present President, but for future Presidents. Mr. Trump is learning that with precedents set by Mr. Obama and his White House counsel.
The institution of the Presidency is more important than the one inhabitant of the office. We can hope that General Kelly deals with this situation promptly.