July 21, 2017

On Morning Joe, Mike Barnicle asked New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt about last night's blockbuster story.

"There's a lot in this piece, but obviously the flashing red light here is the notion that the president is talking about to what extent he has to pardon his aides, his family members, and potentially himself," Barnicle said.

"Tell us more about what your reporting shows about what his attitude is towards that question. He is asking the question with what kind of disposition?"

"I think the president clearly understands the seriousness of Mueller, and he clearly gets the problem here, which is that an investigation which starts with Russia is just going to go in a lot of different directions," Schmidt said.

"What the White House is trying to do is try and find ways to stop Mueller from going beyond that, and what they do? They're researching the lawyers that Mueller has hired. They're looking at their backgrounds. They're looking at the cases that they dealt with. They're looking at whether they ever got, you know, rebuked by courts or anything. Just trying to come up with any type of information that they could use to put these to either disqualify some of these lawyers going forward or to put them on the defensive and to create problems for Mueller. They are certainly taking an aggressive posture here.

"When Ken Starr was appointed, there were folks in the Clinton world that started demonizing him for political reasons. This seems to feel along those lines and be if not more severe.

He said Trump wants to be aggressive and really go after the Mueller team, while his lawyers don't want him to do this.

"What impact are any of the lawyers that he has surrounded himself with having on the president in this regard?"

"Well, it's our sense that they don't want him to be out there," Schmidt said.

"At least, you know, some of them don't want him to be out there being so aggressive on this issue. They think that it antagonizes Mueller. It raises questions about the independence of Mueller, and it's a distraction, and it's not helpful. At the same time, this is a president that believes he is his best spokesman and has shown the willingness to attack these folks, even his own attorney general just the other day. He sees that as his best offense here.

"At the same time, it sort of raises questions about the process. He is really undermining Mueller in ways, certainly in the public's eyes, and putting the political lens on it that may not really be there."

Yeah, I'm gonna go with it "really being there."

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