The Plot Thickens: An Interview with AG of Mueller, She Wrote
By guest author Greg Olear
Trump/Russia is the greatest political scandal in American history. It’s also the most complex. Every day, it seems, a new piece of the puzzle is discovered. Problem is, the puzzle has thousands of pieces, we lost the box the shows the overall picture, oh and by the way, the directions are written in Cyrillic. The temptation is strong to just give up, but we have to solve the puzzle, because the very fate of the republic hangs in the balance.
Fortunately, there are intrepid citizens doing the yeoman’s work of puzzle-solving. AG of the superb podcast Mueller, She Wrote is among the best at this. Every Monday, for months now, she and her co-hosts Jaleesa Johnson and Jordan Coburn produce a double-album’s worth of material that deep-dives into the goings-on of the past seven days. They recap what’s happening, hint at what we should look for in the days ahead, and they make what can be dry material (i.e., the legalese of the Manafort trial) entertaining. The list of guests they’ve had on is impressive: Asha Rangrappa, Joyce Vance, Molly Jong-Fast, Michael Avenatti, Rabia Chaudry, and David Priess, to name a few. Mueller, She Wrote is essential listening to understand the intricacies of Trump/Russia.
Back in July, after much begging, AG interviewed me for the podcast. I recently had the opportunity to turn the tables and ask her some questions:
What was the impetus behind MSW? Tell us the origin story.
When I started to see the early parallels between Watergate and the Mueller investigation, I realized the historical significance of this probe, and honestly, I wanted to be part of documenting it. The catalyst was the indictment of Manafort and Gates. I realized that day that I wanted to cover this story, so I went out and bought microphones and asked Jaleesa and Jordan if they wanted to be part of it, and we recorded that weekend.
I like to imagine that you guys all live in the same cool residential housing complex, like Melrose Place, but with Special Counsels. Muellerose Place, let’s call it. [insert groaning noise]
But seriously, I don’t want to ask anything too personal and blow your cover, but did you know them before? Was it like you have a big circle of friends and you three were the only ones following the investigation?
Well, I needed help and I wanted to have a diverse panel. I knew there would be questions about my reporting, and I wanted people younger than me that would ask them. I also knew them from the comedy scene and saw in Jaleesa and Jordan two extraordinarily funny women. Finally, I wanted an all-female panel because I think women experience justice differently from men. We all agree justice is blind and fair, but I think women have an empathy for justice that’s just more compassionate.
At what point were you personally convinced that Trump had colluded (for wont of a better, more legally-accurate word) with the Russians?
It was before the election. The New York Times had written an article with a very misleading headline, but in paragraph six they indicated there was Russian interference with a penchant for helping Trump. That’s when I began paying attention. The IC report is what convinced me beyond a reasonable doubt.
The New York Times wrote an article with a misleading headline right before the election? I’m sorry, you have to be more specific. Do you mean that abomination they ran on Halloween about how the FBI found no links to Russia?
That’s the one.
On the podcast, you are intimidatingly good with the facts, especially as it pertains to the various court cases. Do you have a legal background at all? Because it seems like you’re a better lawyer than anyone currently or formerly on Trump’s payroll.
I’m not a lawyer. My bachelor’s is in behavioral science, with an MBA and a doctorate in health administration. My dad always said I should be a lawyer, though. Is it too late to go to Harvard?
It’s never too late! Although my estimation of Harvard Law School sinks with every appearance by Alan Dershowitz on the cable shows.
Dershowitz is compromised by his connection to Epstein and his underage sex parties. That’s just conjecture, but he has skin in the game. Literally.
For me, the three key figures in Trump/Russia are Kushner, Manafort, and Flynn. That’s the top tier, with the second tier including Pence, Cohen, Sessions, and Stone. (The Trumps themselves I have in a separate category). How do you organize this in your mind?
I see Trump and his family as the hub.
I see the Stone folks, which I call “Roger Stonehenge,” and includes Assange, WikiLeaks, Russians that have already been indicted, Davis, Miller, Credico, and Nunberg. They all connect to the Trumps through Stone.
Then there’s the Flynn/Copson/KT McFarland/Bud MacFarlane/Sessions/Butina/ NRA/Torshin/Mayflower/Marshall Plan thing. They’re all connected to the Trumps through Donald Trump, Jr. (and of course Flynn drags Pence into that group).
We mustn’t forget Pence. Although he sure seems to want us to.
There’s the Michael Cohen stuff.
Then we have the Manafort/Deripaska/Rybka/Gates/Van der Zwaan/Rohrabacher extravaganza which links through the Trump Tower meeting and Manafort wanting to use a Cypriot intermediary to pay the Russians for DC Leaks and Guccifer 2.0, which links to the Trumps through Junior (and I think Trump knew about that meeting).
Then Kushner just sort of has his hands in all of it and is tied to Qatar/UAE/Bibi along with the Trump tower meetings.
So each faction has a contact with the Trump family and he knew about it all.
What was the biggest surprise for you in Trump/Russia thus far?
That Ice Cube is involved.
My happiest moment of the last two years, with respect to Trump/Russia, is when they indicted Manafort. The mention of Sean Hannity as Client #3 of Michael Cohen was a close second. What are the high points for you?
It had to be when Manafort was found guilty on eight counts, Cohen copped to eight counts, Duncan Hunter was indicted on over 60 counts, and Weisselberg and Pecker were granted immunity. We don’t yet know if immunity will be used to nab Cohen, or a larger immunity to roll up the Trump Org and the kids, but August 21st will go down as a watershed day for this presidency and the resistance. Until then, it was that we got Randall from Honey Badger Don’t Care to narrate our coverage of the Manafort trial.
—Greg Olear (@gregolear) is the author of Dirty Rubles: An Introduction to Trump/Russia, an Amazon #1 best-seller.