The Jones Day Trumpwatch: From partner to mobile phone snitch
28 February 2017 09:15
Oh Don. You didn't think it would be like this. Did you, Don?
When Don McGahn left Jones Day as a partner to become White House Counsel and shoot black pipettes out his mouth at liberal activists, what visions he must have enjoyed.
Did he picture a scene like this, in which attorney Ted Sorensen advises JFK on something staggeringly important like the Cuban Missile Crisis?
Did a modern day version dance through Don's mind? Did he dream of nuclear sugarplums, of himself as Trump's right-tinyhand man? Did he imagine himself straddling the world stage like a colossus, solving global crises with intellectual brio, winning deadly games of brinkmanship with utter authority?
If so, he must be sorely disappointed, because instead he's masterminding bumfluff like this:
How pathetic. How demoralising. How minor. How telling that the crackdown failed so badly even its existence was leaked. It's feeble sub-Nixonian nonsense. Far from steering world events, Don's a mealy-mouthed prefect for a terrified deputy head. Don is supervising staffers as they check each others' Whatsapps for a text to The Washington Post. Don is a shit bureaucratic version of MacReady from The Thing.
||"I've found a traitor and I'm burning her, Mr President, I'M BURNING MAVE FROM TYPING."
I think Don might love it, though. I think building the legal framework to square away a besieged narcissist's frenzy of suspicion might be right up Don's alley. Some people thrive off office politics, but no-one loves an internal purge more than authoritarians. Is Don one? The close alignment between Don's preferences and Trump's is undeniable. They're both called Donald. If you need more evidence, this transcript of his interview for the White House job, which has of course also leaked, reveals just how much they have in common:
Donald Trump: Isn't this room amazing.
Don McGahn: It's magnificent.
Trump: It's my favourite bathroom. This toilet is pure gold. It is an antique, an amazing antique, that means it is so old, it is worth so much money. It started a war, they tell me it started the Trojan War.
Steve Bannon: It launched a thousand shits.
Trump: Is that a joke?
[Bannon turns on cable news].
[Trump is transfixed. Five hours later, Bannon returns and turns it off]
Trump: The best, oldest toilet. Who are you?
Don: I wanted to tell you about my experience which I think makes me suitable for the position. While I was chief counsel for the National Republican Congressional Committee between 1999 and 2008, it was investigated by the FBI and its treasurer was convicted of embezzlement.
Trump: That's a huge tick. Whiter than white is only good in one sense, if you know what I mean. You know what I mean. Everyone knows I mean, that's why I won the election. A huge win. The biggest ever they tell me. Bad people can't believe it, the win was so big. It's a movement. The fake news is crying about it, whining. I hate whiners, so they keep attacking me, they wont stop, it's disgusting.
Don: I defended Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay when DeLay was indicted for improperly using campaign contributions. I also defended him when he accepted donations from Russian oil tycoons.
Trump: I have never met Putin or been to Russia. I know about it, because I read. I read more than anyone you know. I read so much when the words go along the bottom of the screen, and I like some of the words, some of them say very nice things about me. I think they are very fair words, but many, many other words attack me and it is so, so sad and bad for the country. The world is laughing at us.
Don: I was initially passed over for a role with the Federal Election Commission because of concerns over my work as an ethics lawyer for Delay.
Trump: I run the most ethical white house in history. It's so ethical they will write books about my ethics. It's - people cannot believe how ethical I am being. They say President Trump, it used to be a mess. We were stealing things, staplers, no-one cared, we had - you know they took computers home, paintings, parts of the walls as souvenirs and I stopped that. On day one, I said leave everything here. From now on we will just add to the White House. Bronze, big paintings, make it much classier. And they said to me, President Trump, we hated it, it was so drab, but now there's brass coming in and gold and the ethics, we are so grateful. And they love the ethics, they tell me we love working for you, we're scared of the ethics, they admit this to me, I'm a nice boss, I'm the nicest boss you ever saw, and they say we are scared of the ethics, and I told them, don't be scared of the ethics we're putting in place at huge expense, you will do very well with me. Am I too lenient with them? Maybe. I'll be lenient to them. They're such great staff, so loyal. I was lenient on Hillary. Too lenient maybe. People say, was that a mistake? Lock her up, they love that I suggested that, which I was right to do, she was convicted by the FBI, the first time that ever happened. If she steps out of line I might have to send her a message. Bang bang. She knows, she knows. She respects me a huge amount. She calls me all the time. She needs me. I don't need her. She is obsessed with me. She won't stop talking about me, I hear -
[Bannon thwacks Trump on the back of the head, stilling him]
Don: When I finally bagged a spot on the FEC courtesy of a nomination by George W Bush, I blocked attempts to reform campaign financing, and actually loosened the rules on spending. Eventually, I resigned.
Trump: I have had enough of red tape. My new rule is that for every new rule that is made by my administration, two rules must be broken.
Don: Before joining Jones Day, I set up my own practice doing a lot of work for the oil billionaire, climate change-denying Koch Brothers.
Trump: Many people say I am a much better billionaire than them, and there are two of them, there's only one of me but two of them, and I'm still better apparently. They are very shy. Shy billionaires. I'd be shy too if I was called Koch. They're lovely guys though, huge fans. Brothers. Close brothers. Very close. Some people say too close. I don't know about that. They're big fans.
Don: Some of your closest advisers are failed comedians, like battered waxwork Kellyanne Conway and grave robber's assistant Stephen Miller. I too am a wannabe entertainer, wearing my hair long and playing in an 80s cover band. I own 30 guitars. I do it to feed an internalised myth that I am not what I am, which is a composite of the presenters of Top Gear who can degrade humanity with his drafting.
Trump: I don't have losers in my team, some of them did try entertaining and they couldn't do it like me, but they did new things and they were very, very successful with them and in fact Steve Bannon, my close adviser Steve Bannon, he made a lot of money out of Seinfeld so when people say, oh, Bannon is a Nazi, the truth is he loves those people, one at least.
Don: I worked at Patton Boggs before moving as a partner to Jones Day's Washington office in 2014.
Trump: I like those Jones Day guys, they love me so much, very brainy, and I don't say this about lawyers much, but I do like them. I can do without lawyers in a lot of ways, but you can't kill them. You can kill some of them. I could kill all of them. That would get me even more votes, right? Shall I kill them all? I'll think about it. But I couldn't kill Jones Day lawyers. I could but I won't. They are such great lawyers, so supportive. Ok, I will let you have this amazing, amazing job.
Don: I would love the job. I want to ride the Trump Train to the top of Donald Mountain and I am just so happy right now I could cry.
Trump: You are a very stupid idiot, a lot of top people are wanting to have this job, but you are just too dumb and in fact I turned you down. You are a failed lawyer. Dumb!
Don: But President Trump I do want the job! Desperately. Oh God, I just peed my pants.
Bannon: Don't worry, the lies of the liberal media have convinced a lot of candidates to reject jobs with President Trump and it's got to him. He'll realise you accepted in a few seconds, sieg heil.
Don: President Trump what are you...why are you...lying on the floor.
Trump: Just let me...don't move...let me slide...just underneath, between your legs...on the floor. This is a real marble floor, I bought this floor from Europe, it cost millions of dollars, it was Caesar's floor.
Bannon: Don't move, Don.
Don: What are you doing? President Trump, the pee, it will-
Trump: Let it fall. We are bound now, you and I.
Don: [Sobbing] I am straddling world events like a colossus.