It was jarring but not necessarily a surprise when John Dowd resigned from President Donald Trump‘s legal team back in March, but new details in another book about life in the Trump administration have shed some light on why Dowd left when he did.
Bob Woodward of Woodward and Bernstein fame has penned a book called Fear: Trump in the White House. It is scheduled to drop on Sept. 11. The Washington Post preview is a seemingly endless catalogue of White House staffer intrigue behind the scenes.
One of the major claims of the book is that Dowd was so against Trump doing an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller that he staged a practice session to prove Trump would perjure himself and then reenacted it in front of Mueller to show why he couldn’t be interviewed. As per the Post:
On March 5, Dowd and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow met in Mueller’s office with the special counsel and his deputy, James Quarles, where Dowd and Sekulow reenacted Trump’s January practice session.
Dowd then explained to Mueller and Quarles why he was trying to keep the president from testifying: “I’m not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot. And you publish that transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys overseas are going to say, ‘I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with this idiot for?’”
Woodward claims that Mueller responded to Dowd’s words by saying, simply, “John, I understand.”
The subject supposedly came up again the day before Dowd submitted his resignation.
“Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit,” Dowd allegedly said to Trump. Trump, on the other hand, was concerned that not testifying would look bad.
“I’ll be a real good witness,” Trump is quoted.
“You are not a good witness,” Dowd is quoted in turn. “Mr. President, I’m afraid I just can’t help you.”
It’s worth noting that none of this contradicts what Dowd said in an interview after he resigned.
Dowd said that his relationship with Mueller was more than good — it was “terrific.”
“We had a terrific relationship with Mueller — the best that I can recall in my 50 years of practice,” Dowd said. “It was terrific, completely open, people trusted each other, and we had no misunderstandings.”
Update: The Washington Examiner is reporting that Dowd has responded to reports by disputing accuracy of CNN quotes and by denying that he said Trump risked an “orange jump suit” by testifying in a Mueller interview. He also said he never called the president a “fucking liar.”
[Image via Yana Paskova/Getty Images]