While the infighting and name-calling found on every page of Fire and Fury might be grabbing most of the headlines, the content of Michael Wolff’s behind the scenes at the Donald Trump White House book also fills in the details on Trump’s obstruction of the Russia investigation.
“The allegations in the Times piece, if accurate, provide further potential evidence that the White House was engaged in an effort to obstruct justice,” Schiff said. He suggested three of the main revelations in the Times piece should be looked at as part of a pattern.
Those revelations are: How White House Counsel Don McGahn tried to pressure Jefferson Sessions into delaying his recussal, Sessions’ work behind the scenes in gathering up talking points against James Comey, and the contents of Trump’s original Comey letter—which is still being hidden by Sessions and Rosenstein.
Of these, McGahn’s direct talks with the DOJ and Sessions sending around aides with the intent of generating “one new negative story a day” about Comey are genuinely new. Trump’s angry, Russia investigation-oriented Comey letter—co-written by the always unreasonable Stephen Miller—was already known to exist. Still, the new information serves to remind everyone that not only is the Rosenstein excuse for firing Comey a blatant lie, it’s a lie that everyone pretends to accept even though the actual information is readily available and the people who have it are the people supposedly responsible for bringing the truth to light.
Every week for the last 14 months has been extraordinary in its awfulness. Over and over again what seemed to be the bottom has proven to be just another step on a escalator that’s plunging toward an endless abyss. And it’s now clear that we’re locked in a desperate race: The evidence for obstruction of justice is already overwhelming, but the evidence that Republicans will prevent any response to that evidence seems just as clear.
Here is a crucial point Schiff made to me: All of this bolsters the case for the House Intelligence Committee to bring back Sessions and Trump Jr. for questioning. Democrats want to bring back Trump Jr. to press for more information about a call he had with his father just after news of the Trump Tower meeting broke, which could shed light on what happened at that meeting. The Times confirmation that Mueller is probing why Trump helped put out a statement covering that up “heightens the importance of bringing Junior back in,” Schiff said.
Which could happen … except that Devin Nunes has complete control of any subpoenas issued by the House committee, and has consistently stomped on Schiff’s requests to bring in vital witnesses. Now that Paul Ryan has lined up completely behind Nunes, there’s even less reason to believe that Trump Jr, or anyone else, will be brought back into the committee for additional questioning.
On the one hand, the crystal clear evidence that Trump, multiple members of his administration, and now members of the Congress are working to impede and obstruct the Russia investigation is stacked high enough that no one should be able to ignore it. On the other hand, the people are who supposed to do something about that are increasingly not just looking the other way, but involving themselves in the obstruction. Nunes, Ryan, Grassley, Graham—they’re not just whistling on the sidelines. They’re actively working to make things worse.
At some point, when there are enough people supporting the effort, it ceases to be obstruction. It also ceases to be democracy.