If you’re a White House lawyer leading the response to the biggest investigation in the country, it’s probably unwise to loudly dish about your strategy and your colleagues while at a restaurant near the White House.
Yet that is exactly what White House special counsel Ty Cobb did — and he did it with a New York Times reporter seated at the next table.
According to a new story from the Times’ Peter Baker and Ken Vogel, Cobb had lunch with Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd at the restaurant BLT Steak recently, and said the following things:
- That White House Counsel Don McGahn’s office was being too “conservative” about turning over documents to Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s team — and that McGahn had “a couple documents locked in a safe”
- That Cobb feared a White House lawyer working with him was “a McGahn spy”
- That in the famous meeting Donald Trump Jr. set up with a Russian lawyer in June 2016, “There was no perception that there was an exchange”
- That if the White House turned over documents to Mueller’s team, they shouldn’t necessarily give them to investigating congressional committees
Vogel, a Times reporter, was coincidentally seated at the next table during all this:
This behavior seemed so indiscreet and unprofessional on Cobb’s part that some even speculated he might have intentionally spoken where he could be overheard, to “accidentally” get his grievances against McGahn into the press.
But this seems unlikely given that Cobb has already revealed himself to be, well, not necessarily the most discreet and careful person.
Earlier this month, Cobb responded to questions from Business Insider reporter Natasha Bertrand by sending her an email at 1:30 am reading, “Are you on drugs?”
In which the president's lawyer writes me at 1:30 am on a Saturday and asks me if I'm on drugs. pic.twitter.com/SPGTkMylM5— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) September 3, 2017
Days later, Cobb got into a heated email exchange with a person who emailed him critically out of the blue, asking how he could sleep at night while representing Trump. “Can say assertively the more adults in the room will be better. Me and Kelly among others,” Cobb wrote. (He also humble-complained that he “walked away from $4 million annually to do this, had to sell my entire retirement account for major capital losses”).
And then Cobb was tricked by a prankster who emailed him pretending to be White House social media director Dan Scavino (using the very subtle email address firstname.lastname@example.org). In responses, Cobb called Bertrand, the Business Insider reporter, “insane” and asked whether there was “any drone time left?”
Asked about the Russia investigation, Cobb also asserted to the prankster that “there is nothing there implicating the President or the White House,” but admitted that “Manafort and Flynn have issues separate and apart from the WH that will cause the investigation to linger.”