Kendall Coffey on MSNBC with Kristen Welker – June 16th, 2017
Kristen Welker: I now want to bring in former federal prosecutor Kendall Coffey and my panel here with me for the hour, White House correspondent for the Washington Examiner Sarah Westwood, and National political reporter for the Boston Globe, Astead Herndon. Thanks to all of you for being here. Kendall, I want to start with you and that stunning tweet. I, in my head, had a split-screen of the president tweeting and his own outside counsel reading this tweet. Can you break down the potential legal implications? Why is a tweet like this so significant?
Kendall Coffey: Well the president is obviously recognizing that there is indeed an investigation, and he’s still punching back. One of the things I keep seeing in this is a White House reaction that is simply not consistent with recognizing the seriousness of the matter. You look at some of the other people who are discussing the scope of this investigation. They’re staying as quiet as possible, they are listening to their lawyers. What we continue to see is more of a political reaction to what is going on with the special council’s office, to what is going on with the investigation, rather than a thoughtful recognition that there could be some serious issues here, and it’s time to deal with them accordingly.
KW: Kendall, for correspondents like myself who cover the White House, we’re witnessing this incredible divide where you have his staffers, the people who are charged with talking to the press, saying they are not going to discuss the Russian probe at all. It is, in fact, only the president [who] is discussing the Russian probe. Does he not potentially risk getting himself into more legal jeopardy with these tweets? With this lack of message discipline, essentially?
KC: Well, absolutely he does. If you think about it, at the time James Comey was fired, the official documented statement was based on the recommendation of the deputy attorney general. Who is the one that connected that to Russia? None other than the president himself. And for him to get through this, at some point, there needs to be more thought to the legal consequences, rather than political reactions to things he doesn’t like to hear about or read about.
KW: Kendall, I want to go back to you and talk about the significance of the vice president hiring a lawyer. This is an investigation that is expanding, everyone expected it to. That’s what happens when there is special council in place. What do you make of this move by the vice president?
KC: I think it’s a smart move. Not that I think he’s in any legal jeopardy, but he’s eventually going to be brought in for questioning [by] the special council. He obviously had interactions with Flynn, who is a very, very significant person in all of this. He wants to make sure that even if he’s not worried about looking bad criminally, that he doesn’t get damaged politically. To do that, you get a smart and experienced lawyer, which he has, who helps you navigate through it, so when your moment of truth comes in your interview, your answers are credible, consistent, and fully prepared. That’s a good move, and I believe a lot of others around the White House are thinking the same way, and there may be even more people lawyering up.
KW: I think you’re absolutely right about that. Kendall Coffey, thank you so much for helping us understand all of these breaking developments.