The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type “RAT.” But I allowed him and all others to testify - I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2018
....and have demanded transparency so that this Rigged and Disgusting Witch Hunt can come to a close. So many lives have been ruined over nothing - McCarthyism at its WORST! Yet Mueller & his gang of Dems refuse to look at the real crimes on the other side - Media is even worse!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2018
That may be so. But from nearly everything else we’ve learned about how Trump and his new legal team’s approach the investigation into Russian election interference, the opposite has been true. Trump is systematically trying to discredit the independent investigation, and he has not sat down with Mueller’s team, which The Washington Post has reported has threatened to subpoena the president.
Those are just the toplines of what Trump has done to be less-than-cooperative with the Mueller investigation. There’s much, much more.
Trump has thought about firing Mueller at least twice. He recently either ordered or suggested that his attorney general just pull the plug on the Russia probe. (Trump’s legal team argues the insertion of “should” in the tweet below makes it a suggestion rather than a command.)
..This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2018
Before that, there’s a long history of Trump trying to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions in control of the Russia probe. Sessions recused himself from overseeing all campaign-related work shortly after taking command of the Justice Department. But the New York Times reported in January that Trump went out of his way to try to stop that: He ordered McGahn, the top White House lawyer, to try to stop Sessions from backing down. McGahn did try to stop him, the Times reported, which is probably of keen interest to Mueller’s team, given that a number of leaked questions they reportedly want to ask Trump focus on how Trump reacted to Sessions’s recusal.
Trump has reportedly been open to using House Republicans' investigation to try to fire the top official overseeing the Mueller probe, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. In fact, The Fix’s Aaron Blake calculated that of all the top Justice Department and FBI officials surrounding the Russia probe, more than half have been fired or threatened.
Trump has a track record of trying to cover or recast his actions with regard to Russia. The Times has reported that Trump asked McGahn to deny a New York Times report saying he asked McGahn to fire Mueller. Except, Trump did ask McGahn to fire Mueller, the lawyer had to remind Trump, according to reporting from the Times’s Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman. They went on to report that Trump threatened to fire McGahn if he didn’t issue the denial.
Then there's the Trump Tower meeting during the campaign. When the Times was reporting Donald Trump Jr. took a meeting with a Russian lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, the president dictated a misleading statement for his son to tell the media, The Post reported.
A year later, Trump acknowledged the true intent of the meeting: It wasn’t about adoptions, as the Trumps originally said. It was to get dirt on Clinton.
Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics - and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018
These alleged efforts to cover his tracks are focused on what the media are reporting; news stories about Trump’s potential meddling in the Russia probe or events surrounding his campaign and Russia that he didn’t want to get out there.
But we don’t know what we don’t know about the behind-the-scenes negotiations on the Mueller investigation. The Times and CNN are reporting that McGahn may be leaving the president in the dark on what he and Mueller talked about.
None of this is to say Trump is misleading the public on whether he allowed his White House lawyer to talk with Mueller’s team, or that he fully understood what he was allowing when he did. But given everything that has gone public so far, Trump allowing his lawyer to talk openly with the lead Russia investigator he routinely tries to disparage would be an anomaly.