BREAKING: Todd seems or pretends to question Priebus!


Actually fails to do so:
Back in June 2017, did Donald J. Trump order Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller?

In the past two weeks, the New York Times and the Washington Post have each reported that he did. Each paper reported that McGahn then told "White House officials" or "West Wing staff" that he would resign before he would comply with that order.

Did those events actually happen? On yesterday morning's Meet the Press, Chuck Todd's first guest was Reince Priebus, Trump's chief of staff at that time.

Almost surely, Priebu would have known if these events occurred. And sure enough! Todd raised this topic right at the start of his interview:
TODD (2/4/18): Let me start right on an issue that happened near the end of your tenure as White House chief of staff.

The Washington Post reported late last month the following:

Trump's ire at Mueller rose to such a level that then White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon and then Chief of Staff Reince Priebus grew, quote, incredibly concerned that he was going to fire Mueller and sought to enlist others to intervene with the president, according to a Trump adviser who requested anonymity, to describe private conversations.

This was all in that report that White House counsel Don McGahn said he'd resign if ordered to do this.

What can you tell us about this event?
To watch this exchange, click here.

Did Don McGahn threaten to resign, as the Post and the Times reported? Todd's first question, which was remarkably fuzzy, set the tone for the discussion to come, in which Todd seemed to go out of his way to avoid seeking specific answers from Priebus.

"What can you tell us about this event?" That's an absurdly fuzzy question to pose to a fuzzy talker like Priebus. And indeed, in his initial fuzzy reply, Priebus told us remarkably little.

That seemed OK with Todd. Throughout the discussion, he avoided such obvious questions as these:
Fairly obvious, fairly specific questions:
Did McGahn ever tell you that Trump had told him to fire Mueller?

Did you ever hear McGahn say that he would resign before he would follow that order?

Did anyone else ever tell you about any such statements by McGahn?

Did anyone ever tell you that McGahn had been given that order?

Did anyone ever tell you that McGahn had refused such an order? That he had said he would resign instead?
Those seem like fairly obvious questions. They're also fairly specific.

Instead of asking such questions, Todd let an extremely fuzzy non-discussion unfold. Consider this worthless early exchange:
PRIEBUS: I never felt, of all the things that we went through in the West Wing, I never felt that the president was going to fire the special counsel. So, I never felt the level of—

TODD: Feeling and what people heard, it's possible the president uttered the words, "I want Mueller fired, I want Mueller gone."

PRIEBUS: I never heard that.

TODD: But you never took it—

PRIEBUS: No, I never heard that.

TODD: You never heard those specific—

PRIEBUS: I never heard that, no.

TODD: The sentiment was expressed?
Note the instant failure by Todd. The Post and the Times didn't report that Trump had said such things to Priebus. The papers reported that Trump gave a specific order to McGahn.

Already, Todd was letting Priebus dispute a claim the newspapers hadn't made. As the non-discussion continued, so did the failure to get specific answers to specific questions:
TODD (continuing directly): The sentiment was expressed?

PRIEBUS: I think it was clear by the president's own words that he was concerned about the conflicts of interest that he felt that the special counsel had. And he made that very clear. Perhaps someone interpreted that to mean something else.

But I know the difference between "Fire that person," "Why isn't that person gone" to what I read in the New York Times piece. So when I read that, I'm just telling you—

TODD: Right.

PRIEBUS: —I didn't feel that when I was there.
We don't even know what to highlight. Priebus didn't "feel" something when he was there? Todd still hasn't asked the basic question: Did McGahn ever tell him about that alleged order from Trump?

Finally, Todd mentioned McGahn. But his question was extremely fussy, and so was the bullroar which followed:
TODD: Did Don McGahn express that concern?

PRIEBUS: Not in particular. But I'm, but again—

TODD: Is this story wrong?

PRIEBUS: Um, I think—I didn't think it was right. I mean, put it that way. I mean, I didn't, I didn't believe it was accurate.

TODD: But you're not, but you're not ready, you're not disputing it in full. Why?

PRIEBUS: I'm disputing it from my point of view, right, because I never heard that.

TODD: From your point of view. You never heard it, but you're not—it's possible he did express this?
By now, it isn't even entirely clear who "he" is supposed to be. Indeed, this whole exchange had adopted a "Who's On First" quality by this point. This was especially true watching this jumbled discussion in real time, rather than by poring over the NBC transcript, which we've had to correct in many ways.

Did Don McGahn ever tell Priebus that he'd been ordered to fire Mueller? It's very easy to ask that question. If you're going to raise this topic, the question is blindingly obvious.

Instead of asking specific questions, Todd stumblebummed his way along, as he always does when speaking to Priebus. It's hard to believe that this is really the best Chuck Todd can do.

We live in a nation of 330 million people. It's hard to believe that this is the best our big corporate news orgs can do. Again and again, one has to assume that they don't really want to do better.


  1. Who cares whether McGahn ever tell Priebus that Trump had told him to fire Mueller?

    No one but lib-zombies. It's zombie-food, unsuitable for human beings...

    1. Экспертное мнениеFebruary 5, 2018 at 6:10 PM

      Isn't zombie food like your borscht, comrade?

    2. Hey Vodka-breath, you think president pussygrabber chickenshit will ever answer questions from the special counsel? I don't because I know how blustering bullshit artists bullies are deep down fucking cowards.

  2. I see Trump's man at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is standing up for little old Equifax in the face of the 143 million establishment-types whose personal identity was stolen.

  3. "What can you tell us about this event?" That's an absurdly fuzzy question to pose to a fuzzy talker like Priebus. "

    As everyone except Somerby knows, this is an example of an open-ended question. All the ones Somerby posed were questions with yes/no answers, like those a prosecutor would use in court. Todd used an interviewer's question, one designed to get a person talking, not close off conversation, as yes/no questions tend to do.

    That aside, it is obvious that Priebus was denying the news reports, no matter how Todd might have framed his questions. This is the kind stonewalling, outright lying, the Trump administration does. I don't know why Priebus thinks he must continue to shield Trump even after he has left Trump's administration, but perhaps he believes that any future in Republican politics depends on it.

    The White House cannot have this both ways. They cannot say that Trump's order to fire Mueller meant nothing because he is always ranting about firing everyone, then turn around and say they never heard him mention firing Mueller at all. They need to pick on version and stick to it.

    It doesn't matter whether anyone heard McGahn say he would quit. The relevant story is whether Trump ordered anyone to fire Mueller, and it doesn't matter whether he did it and then took it back again. Nor does it matter whether he ordered Mueller fired but no one followed through, or they talked him out of it. Ordered Mueller fired is obstruction of justice. The rest is irrelevant. A smokescreen.

    But here is a larger question. Why is Somerby helping to thicken the smokescreen with these irrelevant red herrings? Why is Somerby once again carrying water for Trump?

    This blog has lost any pretense of being written by or for liberals. That Somerby is any sort of liberal is today's biggest howler.

    1. "There's no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there's no excuse for boredom, ever."

      -- Viggo Mortensen

    2. Didn't say I was bored, I said these comments of 1:17 PM are boring to wade through. (Ask Viggo to explain the difference to you.)

    3. It was so boring you read it and commented twice on it.

    4. Viggo says boring is in the mind of the beholder.

    5. Boring is in the mind of the beholder.

    6. 'Why is Somerby helping to thicken the smokescreen with these irrelevant red herrings? Why is Somerby once again carrying water for Trump?'

      Why ? Because Somerby has become a true Trumptard. He wants to see liberals lose so he can bitch endlessly about how all this is because of 2000.

  4. I am often critical of Somerby, but I think he is correct here. Todd did not do well, and is frequently a train wreck. This post is on target, and shows how astute Somerby can still be.

    1. Why isn't Priebus the train wreck?

    2. Who said Priebus wasn't a train wreck?