“I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. I think he’s weighing that option.”
The White House made clear — albeit not all that quickly — that Ruddy never met with President Trump on Monday and is, essentially, freelancing.
“Mr. Ruddy never spoke to the President regarding this issue,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said late Monday. “With respect to this subject, only the President or his attorneys are authorized to comment.”
“Spicer issued a bizarre late night press release that a) doesn’t deny my claim the President is considering firing Mueller and b) says I didn’t speak to the President about the matter — when I never claimed to have done so. Memo to Sean: focus your efforts on exposing the flim-flam Russian allegations against POTUS and highlighting his remarkable achievements! Don’t waste time trying to undermine one of your few allies.”
Ruddy later added to that broadside against Spicer on CNN’s “New Day.”
“I wouldn’t say I was fighting with Sean Spicer,” Ruddy said. “I think that Sean is doing something unusual and different, which is making a news story where one doesn’t exist.”
Sniping aside, consider what we know of the timeline:
1. Ruddy goes to White House Monday.
2. He meets with people — but not Trump. (Ruddy told CNN this morning that he “met with other White House officials yesterday.”)
3. He says immediately afterward in an interview that Trump is considering firing Mueller and that such a move “would be a very significant mistake.”
Remember, too, that Ruddy knows Trump well. If Trump can be said to have close friends — and I am not sure that he is truly close to anyone outside of his immediate family — then Ruddy is a close friend.
“I always speak for myself and not the president. He has his own spokesman. Although I think they are in need of help from time to time,” Ruddy said on CNN.
So, what is Ruddy up to here?
My (educated) guess is that during his visit to the White House on Monday, Ruddy heard that Trump was considering firing Mueller. Ruddy thought, rightly, that doing so would be an absolutely terrible political move. Rather than calling the President to tell him that, Ruddy took to a medium where he knew Trump would listen: TV.
We know from the 2016 campaign that Trump’s advisers and friends would use cable television appearances to send messages to Trump that he was simply not hearing in private conversations. For Trump, seeing things on TV somehow validated them, gave them an added level of importance that one-on-one communications lacked.
Yes, this is strange, unorthodox and unlike any past president. But, so is almost everything Trump has said and done since he became a candidate for president almost exactly two years ago today.
Those who successfully influence Trump meet him on his terms, not their own. That’s what Ruddy is doing here. Telling Trump his opinions through the TV filter. Because he knows that’s the only way to ensure Trump will hear it.