Trump Lawyers Gossip Loudly About Russia Probe At NYT’s Fave Steakhouse

It was almost like Ty Cobb, the White House’s top lawyer for the Russia probes, was asking to be overheard.

Usually, when one needs to unload to a colleague about a coworker’s paranoia and shady professional decisions, one goes somewhere where those secrets can be kept to oneself. Discreetly.

But not Cobb, who took John Dowd, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, to a popular steakhouse not far from the White House — and conveniently for the New York Times, right next to its D.C. bureau — to dish about a dispute with White House Counsel Don McGahn over how much to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

And, as if they were just tempting the Times with their presence at the paper’s go-to lunch spot, Cobb and Dowd picked a table outside, where Cobb’s trade-mark mustache was on view to sidewalk passersby.  Sure enough, a New York Times reporter — Ken Vogel, who covers money in politics — found himself at a table close enough to the attorneys’ gossip fest that he could overhear the specifics of their conversation.

The spot is so well known to be a favorite Times’ hangout that some joke that it’s bureau’s cafeteria.

For the lawyers’ questionable choice of a dining establishment, they put themselves and the White House in an incredibly uncomfortable position. Was it worth it, for BLT’s New York Strip Steak, the crab cake with Meyer lemon or the lobster ‘Cobb’ salad?

Among the nuggets Vogel overheard in Cobb’s and Dowd’s conversation were that there’s a dispute among Trump’s attorneys about how forthcoming to be with the Mueller’s probe. Cobb favors maximal cooperation, while McGahn wants to hold some cards closer to the vest. The White House counsel’s office “is being very conservative with this stuff,” Cobb told Dowd, according to Vogel. He added that McGahn has “a couple documents locked in a safe.”

One of McGahn’s allies must have also felt his ears burning around lunchtime Friday.

“I’ve got some reservations about one of them,” Cobb said about the unnamed lawyer. “I think he’s like a McGahn spy.”

Vogel, along with Times’ White House reporter Peter Baker, pivoted from the eavesdropped conversation to report a broader story about the internal strife the Russia probes are causing Trump’s legal team and the White House writ large.

According to the Times report, tension is high as many senior officials, including McGahn himself, have lawyered up, and some Trump aides worry their coworkers may be wearing wires.

Cobb and Dowd went on to shower McGahn with praise when later contacted by the Times, perhaps to paper over what is likely to be awkward Monday morning at work.

But this is only the latest incident of a pattern of the Trump legal team’s missteps and unsavory encounters with journalists.

Dowd has a penchant for firing off late-night emails. His electronic missives have included one to a scribe to the Wall Street Journal calling Mueller’s raid on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s home a “gross abuse,” and the forwarding of a sketchy, racially-charged chain letter that equated Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and President George Washington.

Cobb is also trigger happy with his email. He accused a reporter inquiring about the probe of being on drugs and he fell for an email prankster claiming to be White House social media director Dan Scavino, with the address “dan.scavinojr@emailprankster.co.uk”.

Some on Twitter were putting forward the rather charitable theory that maybe Cobb’s indiscretion was some master plan to rat out McGahn.


But most saw a hugely problematic moment for Cobb and Dowd: