Ty Cobb, who was a White House lawyer during former President Donald Trump’s administration, suspects the Justice Department investigation into whether Trump mishandled White House documents — some of them highly classified — is really about a broader inquiry into potential crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
“It is about the bigger picture, the Jan. 6 issues, the fake electors, the whole scam with regard to the ‘big lie’ and the attempts to…cling to the presidency in a desperate fashion,” Cobb said on this week’s episode of “The Takeout” podcast.
A clue for Cobb, a former federal prosecutor, was the scope of the warrant authorized to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound.
“The search warrant is unusually large and broad,” Cobb told CBS chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett. “It’s very, very comprehensive in terms of the types of documents that the government could take.”
“For example, you can take any box that has a document. You can take any box adjacent to a box that has it,” he said. “Those are pretty broad parameters.”
Cobb represented the White House during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into suspected Trump collusion with Russian entities in the runup to the 2016 election. That investigation yielded no charges against Trump.
Garrett asked Cobb about his White House experience watching Trump deal with documents – routine or classified.
“The president…was cautioned many times about not tearing up documents,” Cobb said. “In my own experience, I have to say, there wasn’t really anything quite as consequential as the press reports that I’ve read. I saw him tear up newspaper articles which sadly, some staffer would have to tape back together at the end of the day. I saw him tear up inconsequential documents, but I never saw him tear up a classified document or something that was important.”
As for Trump’s legal future, Cobb said he does not believe the documents investigation is the biggest threat.
“I think the president is in serious legal water, not so much because of the search, but because of the obstructive activity he took in connection with the Jan. 6 proceeding,” Cobb said. “I think that and the attempts to interfere in the election count in Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania and perhaps Michigan. That was the first time in American history that a president unconstitutionally attempted to remain in power illegally.”
Cobb says he thinks the possibility of an indictment against Trump is “very high.”
In response to a question about Trump’s attempts to deny the outcome of the 2020 election and overturn the results, Cobb, based on his extensive working relationship with Trump, said, “I believe former President Trump to be a deeply wounded narcissist, and he is often incapable of acting other than in his perceived self-interest or for revenge,” Cobb said. “I think those are the two compelling instincts that guide his actions.”
Cobb also thinks that Trump’s actions around the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol could lead him to be barred from running for the presidency again.
“There is a simple way to disqualify President Trump,” Cobb said. “He clearly violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution’s Article III when he gave aid and comfort and three hours of inaction with regard to what was happening on the grounds of the Capitol. That clearly gave aid and comfort to the insurrectionists.”
Executive producer: Arden Farhi
Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson