Former White House counsel Ty Cobb, who you may remember endorsed a more forthcoming approach with the special counsel, has come out of nowhere to say that he not only thinks Robert Mueller is “an American hero,” he also thinks the Russia investigation is not a “witch hunt.” Even as Cobb said this, however, he said he does not believe Mueller’s Russia report will cause serious political damage to Trump.
Cobb made the comments on Tuesday in an unexpected interview with ABC News.
Right out of the gate, Cobb said that he does not share President Donald Trump‘s feelings about the Russia investigation and the special counsel.
“I don’t feel the same way about Mueller,” Cobb said. “I don’t feel the investigation is a witch hunt.” Cobb also said that he doesn’t believe Mueller is going to submit a report to Attorney General William Barr that will cause serious political harm, which, to say the least, bucks the conventional wisdom of the last year-plus.
Nonetheless, Cobb praised Mueller for his thorough and “highly detailed” prosecutions of the likes of Paul Manafort and the Russian military intelligence officers who allegedly perpetrated the 2016 Democratic National Committee hack. To back up his point about the Mueller report not being as politically damaging as some Trump opponents have hoped, Cobb pointed to the Manafort sentencing memos and basically repeated something Manafort’s own attorneys did.
“[T]hey just filed an 800-page sentencing memorandum, and in 800 pages there’s no reference to collusion,” he said. It’s true, the people who used the word “collusion” in Eastern District of Virginia and Washington, D.C. sentencing memos were Manafort’s lawyers, not Mueller. Though, it should be mentioned, that the Manafort-Konstantin Kilimnik-Trump campaign polling data exchange issue that was at the center of the plea breach dispute has yet to be fully resolved or explained.
As we alluded to in the opening, Cobb’s tenure as Trump’s attorney could be described as forthcoming — especially compared to John Dowd. While Dowd’s strategy was basically “don’t talk to Mueller — ever,” Cobb was open to cooperation with Mueller. When the dust settled, both Dowd and Cobb had left the Trump White House.
While Dowd once said Mueller’s investigation was “one of the greatest frauds this country’s ever seen,” Cobb said he “never had a bad interaction with Mueller or his staff.”
He described Mueller as a “friend” who 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,” Cobb said. ” 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,” he added. As for the end of the Mueller investigation? “I mean, this is going to go through 2020. And if the president is reelected, it’ll go beyond that.”
After Cobb left the White House in 2018, he was replaced by Emmet T. Flood.
Upon exiting, Cobb said, “It has been an honor to serve the country in this capacity at the White House.”
“I wish everybody well moving forward,” he said.
[Image via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images]