Fredricka: Joining me right now CNN legal analyst and constitutional attorney, Page Pate. All right, so Page, what is there to that strategy that perhaps this is, you know, to taint public opinion, as much as it can with the, you know, bully pulpit that the White House has, to potentially avert any legal recourse on impeachment or otherwise?
Page: Well Fred, I think that’s exactly what they’re doing. They’ve decided they’re going to attack not the substance of the investigation, but the investigators themselves. And it’s a strategy you use if you’re concerned about what they’re going to find, if you think you’re gonna have to defend yourself, either in the court of public opinion, or in an actual trial court. I think here, Trump’s lawyers have decided, probably correctly, that the Special Counsel, no matter what he finds, is not going to try to indict the president, so this will all end up in a report that goes to the Deputy Attorney General, and eventually will go to Congress. And so the president and his team are basically saying, “We want half of America at least to think this is a corrupt investigation, it’s a rigged investigation,” as Giuliani said, to really undercut its credibility. I think that’s a bad strategy. I think the opposite strategy, to build up that credibility, and then if it finds you did nothing wrong, then trumpet that. But that’s not the approach they’re taking.
Fredricka: So former national security director Michael Hayden has his own theory about why the president’s going after the Justice Department, and this is what he had to say.
Michael: I think he’s simply trying to delegitimize the Mueller investigation, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and he’s willing to throw almost anything against the wall. Martha, this is part of a stream. Remember? Wiretapping Trump Tower, unmasking U.S. identities, FISA applications that were abused, and now we have this. By the way, all of those are wrong. All of those are incorrect. All of those are stunningly normal in the development of intelligence and law enforcement. But you know what? I talk to a lot of people in the country, and for a lot of people in the country, one or another or many of those things have already stuck.
Fredricka: So is the president winning, you know, in the court of public opinion, or does this potentially make the president or the White House look like there is something to hide and they’re working really hard [inaudible 00:02:08] do so?
Page: Well perhaps both. I think he is winning in a certain segment of the public, the segment that has always believed this was a witch hunt. They’re gonna believe it regardless of what Robert Mueller ends up determining as a result of the investigation. The rest of the public, the ones that really wanna see a credible investigation, I think this hurts the president’s chances of surviving a negative outcome of the investigation, because he’s making it appear to be all personal, and I think that’s a bad idea. Now, again as far as legally, I don’t think we’ll ever see this in a court, so the court of public opinion will be the ultimate jury here.
Fredricka: Hmm. And so if you are a member of the Mueller team, they have to be paying attention to everything that is said, just in case it leads them into a direction, but at the same time, is this not at all influential?
Page: I don’t think so. I mean, the one thing that Robert Mueller I think has done when he selected the people to be on his team is he got the right folks. These are career civil servants, prosecutors, investigators. They’re gonna focus on the ball. They’re gonna do their job. They’re gonna try to put blinders on, not pay attention to what’s being said in the public, unless, of course, it relates to obstruction, and part of the focus of the investigation, but we’ll see at the end of the day, I think, a credible report, and how the president responds to it, that remains to be seen.
Fredricka: Now, you’re not hearing from the White House counsel, but instead, we are hearing from the personal counsel attorney of the president, Rudy Giuliani. What does that say to you?
Page: Well, it says that the White House doesn’t want to get behind this narrative, I think, and perhaps they wanna have it both ways. “As the White House, we’re gonna sit here, let the investigation play out,” which would be the right strategy for the president, but at the same time, the president gets these folks like Giuliani, who’ll go on TV, undercut the investigation, the investigators themselves. They’re trying to have it both ways. And at the end of the day, I think the best strategy is to really support the credibility of the investigation and [inaudible 00:03:56].
Fredricka: How frustrating would that be for White House counsel? Choosing to remain silent, but then the president has his own outside counsel, who is being more than loquacious?
Page: It could be frustrating, or it could be a relief. You know, “I get to stick in my lane here. Let them deal with Mueller, let them deal with the public outcry of the investigation, let them deal with it when the president calls it a witch hunt. I’m just gonna focus on what’s on my desk.” So in some ways, maybe Don McGahn is happy that somebody else is taking [inaudible 00:04:22].
Fredricka: All right. Page Pate, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Page: Thank you, Fred.