CAFE Insider 04/29: Fight Club: Congress v. Trump
I folks another week other relentless new cycle. Bill Vars expected to testify before congress subpoena fights continue between committee chairman and the White House and a Massachusetts state court. Judge stands charged with obstruction of Justice. I talk about all this and more on a cafe insider podcast where each week and milligram joins me to make sense of the news and take stock of what's happening. The podcast is part of the cafe insider membership today, we're making a clip from the most recent episode available in the stay tuned feed to listen to our full conversation and access all other cafe insider content, including a weekly newsletter and bonus content from stay tuned. Become a member at cafe dot com slash insider. That's cafe dot com slash I n s e r. Now it standing all these fights about Bill bar. It looks like he will definitely testify in the Senate two days from now recording this on a Monday, what kind of stuff should he be asked? And how do you get a real answer out of this, very smart and shrewd lawyer when he says, the president didn't commit a crime, I would want I would want to basically get him on the record saying that I would also work through with him some of the analysis you and I have done and saying okay in section one of the report, here's what Bob Muller says, here's the standard that he used. Here's the exact language. What about in section two and going part by part? And and I don't think that they necessarily have the time of this. But I would I would go line by line. Some of the parts of the report to really try to pin him down. There's some smart people on the internet grew providing free advice to senators and saying don't ask certain kinds of open ended questions don't ask questions to begin with why. Because it allows the. Witness to go far afield and to filibuster the answer like you. And I've been talking about that happens all the time and other hearings. And when you're trying to make the point that Bill bars, you know, so-called summary four-page summary was misleading in some way can be careful how you do that. And what's most effective is if you plan in advance you show the phrase verbatim? Yes. You show the phrase, it's them in the mullahs report, put it side by side juxtapose, it with what Bill bar said about it to show that he left stuff out to show that it was, you know, weirdly edited you can do it in either direction, you know, his his phrase, I compared to Muller, I I compared to his, and you might not even ask a question other than to say, did you write that, sir degree this? What the report says because that's how you often do it in court. You don't have to go to the question to allow a person to do. She would explain away. So that's one thing. I do think worry I have is people will attempt to show that the four page summary that was submitted on March twenty fourth was miss Lee. Ding, in some way, you could characterize it as false in other ways that you're not going to get that far because he's a cage witness because he's a smart guy. And he can always fall back on the answer. Look, you know, what kind of a fool am I that? I was going to get away with misleading anyone about anything. Obviously. When you have a four page document that's trying to give the principal conclusions of afforded in forty-eight page document things are going to be left out. There's nothing I could have done in a short period of time that you would say was not misleading in somebody. That's the nature of the other thing. I was doing although I won't call the summary. I have now by the way, and you could say he can say with great enthusiasm. I have now released basically the whole report restoring reductions. But to the extent the spirit of your question is I'm trying to mislead people, and I'm trying to pull the wool over people's eyes. And I'm hiding something. I have not hidden anything you cannot point to a statute you cannot point to a law. You cannot point to a regulation. You cannot point to a precedent. Really? That says I had to tell anybody any of this not to congress not to the gang of eight. Not to the public. So it is what it is. And you want you can Senator if you want you can quibble with me about this line and that line I was trying to fulfill an obligation. You know that wasn't required to do. But I thought in good faith for the sake of transparency in the feeding frenzy that occurred after it was reported that the report was delivered to the attorney general, which is required by regulation. People wanted to know what the upshot was. And so I gave up shot. So leave me alone. Also, do I think he's also going to slam molar? I think he's also going to go one step further and say, and you know, what Muller couldn't make he didn't make a call. Somebody had to make a call. I couldn't leave this out there. I made the call. I'm the hero. You need me to make that. That's what I think agree with you. You want me to make that call? What do you think about the line of question? I think there's a really interesting line of questioning around. And you can even forget about the press conference where he says the president was great. He cooperated with everything just a line of questioning around the president not sitting down for an interview when you do standard, and you just use city cooperative. Fully present did not who ex correct. The president did not do why. Correct. The president. Did not do z. Correct. The report points out, you know, a correct just just do that. I think that could be so effective and just three to four minutes of that. And you know, what the answer have to be. And so that's a good example also of controlling the question isn't everyone on the democratic side of the judiciary committee in the Senate running for president? Oh god. All like. Already. You'll make them worse. It's three at least three. Yes. Cobblers? Cory Booker, Amy klobuchar who were all rapes, Volver, smart and can be good questioners. Here's what I'm interested in and under that anybody will do this. There's some value in being forward looking and making the record with witnesses, and you know, from time to time people ask my advice about these things. And I say look not everything has to be a blockbuster question in the moment. Most good cross examination is not blockbuster in the moment, it setting it up for later because remember what congress has function is they're not proceeding towards a particular trial on a particular charge. You're trying to get someone on the record. You're trying to let you know. We were talking about this suspect interviews that we've done in legal matters. We've we've engaged in you want to get the attorney John the United States to commit to some principles that you were worried are going to be trampled and violated in the future and that useful do that. So for example, what is a political campaign supposed to do if they are offered dirt on arrival by a? Hostile foreign nation like Russia or North Korea or Iran. That's a great one and Rudy Giuliani. Went on television. Same time. I did and said, yes, okay. It's okay. To take information from Russia. I would like to know what the chief law enforcement officer in the United States of America thinks about that. And if I had my five or seven or eight or nine minutes, I would only ask about that. I would say, you know, we have an election coming up. What is your view on what should happen if a democratic candidate is offered material on Donald Trump that's dirt by Iran or North Korea or Russia or you can make these Donald Trump to would your advice not be reported to the FBI? And then the question is should the FBI what should the FBI do? And then the exercise will be one of either getting the attorney general to agree with that proposition, which is important in a good standard to set both that it should be reported and investigated or make him look like an ass for refusing to accept that common and decently held. In widely-held, principal and just that. And you can't write out those questions. Right. You have to in the moment. See how the particular witness is going to Bob, and we'd too many people questioning and these kinds of hearings are about the question. They're not it's about depending on the circumstances. The answer you want the person to give you so focused less on the question and more on what the thing is. You know, that you want them to say because it's the truthful thing to say when the when the greatest release pieces of advice, I got as a practicing lawyer before going into a deposition with a partner at the law firm, and I was keeping him at the questions. What questions should I propose to the partner to ask this witness? And he said look into win this litigation. You know, we need to prove things you tell me pre based on you know, you're involved in the case. And I was three junior associated the time at a law firm. What are the ten things we want this guy to say not where the ten questions I should ask. Right. What are the ten things we need? And then you go about it. And you and you you hit you hit you hit you hit. And if they Bob this way, you go back to the thing as long as you keep four in the forefront of your mind. The thing you want them. To say, then I think you ask better questions you said on I think Twitter this morning. Also, you you pointed out the bar is a smart lawyer and a practice layer. So it is even more important in a circumstance like this where he will be incredibly evasive. So he's going to be smart witness. And he's going to be tricky witness. The other thing that I always think about questioning and there are a couple of points. One is people grew with facts not with conclusions. And this is what all the people running for higher office. We'll probably do wrong. There's no way that you're gonna get Bill bar to agree that he did a terrible summary and lied about what Robert Muller said that's not going to happen. And so what you can get him to do is agree to underlying facts and pieces. Like, you're asking a great question. What should a political campaign? Do wanna foreign adversary? Come. There's only one good answer to that question. And if he gives the other answer everyone can draw the right conclusion, but you're you're pinning down the actual factual answer. And the other thing that people don't remember to do. And we thought we would talk about this in training. With assistance in the same goes when you're crossing examining your child. Who is who would like this is good? This is good stuff. You ask the question. Is it your view that? If you're presented with dirt on arrival campaign that the receiving campaign should report it to the FBI if it's from a foreign power. And he doesn't answer because he won't and he'll Bob in. We've and do other things people think you have to rephrase the question. You don't if your first question was well put and well phrased and they say, okay. Thank you for that. My question was and you repeat the same question. You do it. Again, you do the fourth time. You know, how effective that is? You've you've done it. You've seen it in court. Now, it helps if you have the luxury of time you don't have the round ending. But again, but by either the answer that you that you need to get because it's the truth or the witness looks like an asks, and you prefer the first over the second. But the second has some value to and good questioning I have no question with Bill bar. There are a lot of avenues for good questioning of him some of the things on its face. When you first hear you think that doesn't sound quite right. But you have to think about it. And so you really have to pay attention. And then think about what does he actually saying? And what is the role of the department of Justice, and there will be ample opportunity if if folks can do a good job listening to what he says. But you're right. He's he's going to be a tricky witness. I hope you've enjoyed the sample of the cafe insider podcast to listen to the full episode. Head to cafe dot com slash insider and become a member. That's cafe dot com slash insider. To the many of you who have chosen to join the insider community. Thank you for supporting our work.