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Trump Lashes Out Against Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Investigation On Twitter


We begin this hour with news about special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Just a few moments ago, documents in the case of President Trump's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen were filed in a New York federal court. The documents shed light on the crimes the government says Cohen has committed.

NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith joins us now from the White House to make sense of all this. Hey, Tam.


CHANG: So we know the documents just came out. I know you're still reading them. I'm still reading them. What have we been learning so far.

KEITH: The government is requesting a substantial term of imprisonment for Cohen. They say that, yes, there should be a modest downward variance from what is called for because he has...

CHANG: A reduced sentence.

KEITH: ...Cooperated - yeah, a reduced sentence because he's cooperated with the special counsel. But they're also saying that he didn't cooperate enough, that he is not technically a cooperating witness and that he hasn't been fully forthcoming. They say that he was motivated to commit these alleged crimes by personal greed and that he repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends.

CHANG: They mention even that there's no actual cooperation agreement between Michael Cohen and prosecutors in existence.

KEITH: That's right because they say he just didn't want to be fully forthcoming about everything, that he only wanted to offer information about certain things, including campaign finance violations that he committed in service of President Trump shortly before the election, paying off two women who had accused the president of having affairs.

CHANG: We are also waiting on another set of documents, right? Tell us about that set of documents.

KEITH: Yes. So we are also waiting for documents related to Paul Manafort. He is the president's former campaign chairman. For a time, he was thought to be cooperating with the special counsel's office, and then it became clear that he was not cooperating with the special counsel's office. And these documents are supposed to outline precisely how he has lied and how he has broken the law since he was supposed to be cooperating with the special counsel.

CHANG: OK, so some news expected later today potentially.

KEITH: Happy Friday.

CHANG: Happy Friday. The president had a lot to say about Mueller this morning. Can you recap the flurry we saw on Twitter earlier today?

KEITH: Right, so the president knew that these documents were coming, and he seemed - seemingly was trying to get out ahead of them. Starting at around 6:18 this morning, the president began tweeting. He tweeted six times various attacks on the Mueller investigation and criticisms of the investigation. Then he came out to the White House lawn, talked to reporters on his way out of town and announced a bunch of personnel decisions. Then he got on Marine One not taking any questions and tweeted some more. And in that tweet, he said that he would be doing a counter-report to the Mueller report and that this should never again be allowed to happen to a future president of the United States - exclamation point.

CHANG: OK, so the president did actually make some personnel announcements today. We should mention that.


CHANG: One for the next ambassador to the United Nations - we'll hear about that later - but also a new nominee for attorney general. Tell us a little more about William Barr.

KEITH: Right. So he was attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration and would be reprising the role for President Trump. He is seen as an establishment Republican, someone who has experience and has been described as an institutionalist. But also he has some ideas about executive power.

CHANG: Expansive views.

KEITH: Expansive views of executive power in fact and also said shortly after it happened that President Trump was completely within his rights to fire Jim Comey, the former FBI director.

CHANG: All right, that's NPR's Tamara Keith joining us from the White House. Thanks, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.