The media erupted over the leaked copy of writer Michael Wolff’s forthcoming tell-all book about the Trump campaign Wednesday, but the focus has so far been on the more salacious details contained it it.
The initial coverage centered on statements former White House strategist Steve Bannon had made to Wolff about Donald Trump, Jr.’s meeting with Russian operatives at Trump Tower in the summer of 2016, calling the move “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
Later, the media focused on a comment Trump allegedly made to White House communications director Hope Hicks during the campaign that seemed to imply she had an illicit sexual affair with then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
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Once the media exhausted reports of those titillating revelations, however, a potentially more damning excerpt from the book came to light, and a much less visible member of Trump’s legal team at the center of perhaps the most central episode of the Trump-Russia investigation story, entered he spotlight.
Mark Corallo was a member of Donald Trump’s personal legal team. He was the spokesman for Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s personal outside lawyer representing him on any and all matters related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion. He resigned suddenly and unceremoniously in July of 2017, and at the time it was reported that he had issues with the legal team’s decision to go on offense against Mueller and his team of investigators.
But the timing of the move always seemed to suggest that their was more to his departure. The media learned of his resignation on July 20th, just days after news initially broke about the Trump Tower meeting – and the botched White House response to it. According to Michael Wolff, that timing is no coincidence.
Corallo resigned because he believed that the White House – up to and including the president – engaged in obstruction of justice by drafting the statement that the president’s son released as his own official statement soon after the story broke, Wolff writes.
That statement was hastily crafted at the president’s direction aboard Air Force One in the middle of the media firestorm, and sent to Don Jr. with instructions to release it to media. But that was when Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin lawyer and lobbyist, was the only Russian reported at the meeting. The statement Don, Jr. claimed was his insisted that Veselnitskaya set up the meeting to discuss reinstating a Russian adoption program that had been suspended.
Within days, however, we learned that up to four Russians were at the meeting, all with dubious links to Putin and Russian intelligence. And after emails surfaced revealing Don, Jr. knew all along that the Russians wanted to meet specifically to deliver dirt that the Kremlin had on Hillary Clinton, the “adoption” cover story completely collapsed.
According to Michael Wolff:
Mark Corallo was instructed not to speak to the press, indeed not to even answer his phone. Later that week, Corallo, seeing no good outcome-and privately confiding that he believed the meeting on Air Force One represented a likely obstruction of justice-quit. (The Jarvanka side would put it out that Corallo was fired.)
Like all of the revelations in Wolff’s bombshell book, they need to be vetted and examined further before we take them as fact. That said, it’s often only through investigative reporting like this that the long suppressed truth can be allowed to surface.
For this White House, at least, that seems to be the ONLY way the truth ever sees the light of day.