Donald Trump certainly hasn’t been shy about sharing his opinion about investigations into the 2016 election. “Witch hunt!” Trump has said and tweeted endlessly, whether referring to House Democrats or special counsel Robert Mueller. However, former Trump attorney Ty Cobb tells ABC News that he doesn’t think that the Mueller probe is a witch hunt or a hoax.
In fact, Cobb tells ABC that he considers Mueller “an American hero”:
“I think Bob Mueller’s an American hero … even though he came from an, arguably, privileged background, he has a backbone of steel. He walked into a firefight in Vietnam to pull out one of his injured colleagues and was appropriately honored for that. I’ve known him for 30 years as a prosecutor and a friend. And I think the world of Bob Mueller. He is a very deliberate guy. But he’s also a class act. And a very justice-oriented person.”
That might be why Cobb’s status is former Trump attorney. Cobb tells ABC that he managed to keep Trump on his side in preventing personal attacks on the special counsel for most of the time he worked for the president. Once John Dowd opened fire on Mueller, Cobb says, that came to an end even though Dowd left the team because of it. Trump “felt unleashed” and began publicly attacking Mueller’s integrity, which pushed Cobb out the White House door.
Nonetheless, Cobb tells ABC that Mueller’s going to come up empty, because there’s nothing to find. Those waiting for Mueller’s report have missed the fact that they’ve already seen it — in the earlier indictments against Russian entities. The lack of any links back to US persons connected to the campaign in those indictments are telling, Cobb argues:
But as Mueller prepares to convey his findings to the U.S. Attorney General, Cobb maintains a belief that his report will spare the president from any serious political harm. Cobb said he believes Mueller has already revealed the bulk of the findings that the investigation will produce through the sentencing memos and “speaking indictments” issued against a group of 34 defendants that include Russian hackers and the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. A so-called speaking indictment sets forth more contextual details on a case than is required by law.
The indictment against the Russian hackers was “highly detailed,” he said. “And there’s no link to Trump or the campaign. The same thing with Manafort — they just filed an 800-page sentencing memorandum, and in 800 pages there’s no reference to collusion,” Cobb said, referring to Manafort, who was convicted last year of tax and bank fraud charges and pleaded guilty in a separate case to conspiracy charges brought by Mueller as part of his probe.
That message may have gotten through to Trump as well. While Trump hasn’t entirely given up attacking Mueller on Twitter, the last such tweet was almost a month ago, when Trump called the special counsel probe “totally conflicted, illegal and rigged!” That one included the “Witch hunt!” epithet as well, but it was the first such personal attack since mid-November. Trump’s anger appears to have been transferred to House Democrats, perhaps in recognition of the bigger political headache they represent, or perhaps because he’s not terribly worried about Mueller any more.
Cobb’s been off the case for a while, of course, so things may have changed — although nothing in Mueller’s indictments indicate they have. Cobb also shoots down another presumed indicator of Trump’s guilt, the supposed consideration of using pardons to pre-empt Mueller. He tells ABC News that the only pardons Trump considered while he served as his attorney were those for Scooter Libby and Jack Johnson. No pardons were even mentioned around the “Russian events,” Cobb replies when asked. ABC’s commentators are skeptical about this, claiming that Trump tweeted about pardons, but only very generally and nothing in direct or even indirect reference to the Mueller probe. Other than claiming he could pardon himself, that is.
If Trump has indeed fully shifted his anger to House Democrats, Cobb approves. Their new majority means that the investigations are “never gonna be over,” Cobb laments. “All these people are hell bent on issuing a lot of subpoenas to get to the administration and perpetuate this investigation.” Elections do have consequences, but so do investigations that run off the rails. Just ask Republicans circa 1998 about that.