“If anybody thinks Russia collusion is off the table,” former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo told Tucker Carlson last night, “they haven’t visited with the Mueller team.” Caputo says that collusion was the only topic of his interrogation, which took place earlier in the day, and that investigators for the special counsel appear serious about developing a case. When pressed for details, Caputo says he doesn’t want to talk too much and potentially interfere with the investigation, about which more in a moment.
But is there a case for Russian collusion? “Of course not,” Caputo replies when Carlson asks (via Power Line’s Scott Johnson):
Scott has lots of great pull quotes from this relatively brief interview, but two main stories emerge from Carlson’s debriefing of Caputo just after his interview with Mueller’s team. The first, which occupies only the first minute or so of the conversation, is that Robert Mueller remains very much interested in potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence. The second is that Caputo says he’ll never work on a Republican campaign ever again, accusing Democrats of weaponizing prosecution as a political tool:
“I certainly didn’t sign up for this when I went to work for the Trump campaign and I will never, ever work on another Republican campaign for as long as I live…and I think that’s part of this, Tucker. This is a punishment strategy. I think they want to destroy the president, they want to destroy his family, they want to destroy his businesses, they want to destroy his friends so that no billionaire, say, in 15 years wakes up and tells his wife, you know what, they country’s broken and only I can fix it….His wife will say, ‘are you crazy Did you see what happened to Donald Trump?’ That’s what this is about.”
“Clearly these lawsuits after the fact are the new Democratic strategy. When you lose, you still win. I don’t think anyone should work on a Republican campaign again unless you’re legally indemnified. If you do, you’re crazy.”
Caputo also appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, where he answered the question du jour. Should Donald Trump sit down for an interview with these investigators? Uh … hell to the no, Caputo advises:
I think the president should not go anywhere near this [Mueller team]. I think in a lot of ways it’s a trap. I think the president is clear on potential Russian collusion. I think the campaign is in the clear. In the end if they want to get the president, they’re going to try to trip him up in an interview like this and my advice, after being through it, is stay away.
Trump may be getting that same advice from the newest member of his legal team. The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff reports that Emmet Flood is expected to be more combative than Ty Cobb and a lot less likely to agree to subject a client to the process described by Caputo as “a proctology appointment with a very large-handed doctor.”
A longtime Washington lawyer who’s known Flood for quite some time and who spoke anonymously because of client sensitivities said there’s no chance Flood will let the president sit for an interview with Mueller.
“Mueller finally has somebody who’s his match,” that person said. “You’ve got a fair fight now.”
The person also said White House counsel Don McGahn played a significant role in bringing Flood onto the president’s legal team—pushing for him to be offered Ty Cobb’s job and working to convince him to take the position. McGahn and Cobb reportedly had frequent clashes about how to handle the president’s legal woes, and Cobb was overheard complaining about McGahn at the BLT Steak restaurant a few blocks from the White House. With Flood, the president’s lawyers are likely to be more unified in an aggressive posture toward Mueller.
“He comes across like a Columbo-type—unassuming, but the intellect is gargantuan,” the person added.
Mueller would need Trump’s cooperation to get the mens rea necessary for an obstruction charge to stick. Absent that, the original core hypothesis of Russian collusion is all that’s left, which might explain why Mueller’s team hammered Caputo over it yesterday. Looks like we’re heading for a subpoena showdown.