Ty Cobb, a former White House attorney hired to manage its response to the special counsel’s Russia investigation, recalled the “challenging environment” of the job in a podcast posted Tuesday
He was asked on the ABC News podcast The Investigation about the perception of a chaotic White House, and whether President Trump was responsible for creating the drama.
“I had a specific role. I tried to adhere to that and left the psychology to others,” Cobb said. “But, you know, he is a very direct, forceful presence. He wants to get stuff done. He hates obstacles. And he reacts strongly in the face of obstacles to try to move them out of the way or find somebody who will move them out of the way for him so he can do things.”
When it came to the Russia probe, Cobb suggested that it was former Trump personal lawyer John Dowd’s decision to bash special counsel Robert Mueller, as well as the hiring of former mayor Rudy Giuliani to Trump’s personal team, that opened the floodgates to Trump’s own constant criticism of the special counsel investigation.
“In my first nine-and-a-half months out of ten-and-a-half that I was able to prevent the President from going on the attack against Mueller,” Cobb said. “It wasn’t really until, you know, Dowd sent out, you know, a critical tweet of Mueller and Rudy, you know, joined the team that, you know, the onslaught. I mean, I think the President felt unleashed.”
Cobb reiterated his previously-known praise for special counsel Robert Mueller — whom he called an “American hero”— and said that he never “had a bad interaction” with the special counsel or his staff. Cobb disagreed with the claims of Dowd, who called the Mueller investigation a fraud.
Cobb also defended the pivotal decision under his counsel for the White House to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation in its early days, by providing documents and witnesses to testify. Cobb also stressed that the decision was the President’s — Cobb was just the one who “advised” it — and that it still involved “extensive negotiations” with Mueller’s team as to what the White House would offer.
Asked if there was any witness Trump didn’t want testifying, Cobb said the “President was very clear from day one that, you know, anybody who was asked, you know, should be encouraged to do so voluntarily.”
He said the “most difficult chore” was staffing up his team, since then-White House Counsel Don McGahn had recused himself and his office from working on the White House response to the Mueller probe.
Cobb recalled his first day on the job, where he said that John Kelly replaced Reince Priebus as chief of staff and Anthony Scaramucci was fired as communications director within “15 minutes” of Cobb’s swearing in.
“I was a footnote on day one,” Cobb said. “It really never let up after that.”