Sam Nunberg, formerly an aide on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, launched an hours-long, barely comprehensible tear through the media involving numerous back-to-back TV interviews as well as phone calls to local media on Monday. Nunberg is very upset that special counsel Robert Mueller has issued him grand jury summons as well as a subpoena for his email account as part of the sprawling Russian election interference investigation, and said he will refuse to comply with either request even if it means jail time.
Nunberg dubiously claimed that he is motivated to do this because he did not want to take “80 hours” to manually sort through his email to provide Mueller’s team with copies of conversations between him and two other Trump confidantes: weird Republican operative Roger Stone and notorious bigot Steve Bannon, who was purged from his role as White House chief strategist and then his role at Breitbart. Nunberg proclaimed the investigation to be some sort of witch hunt against Stone and that taking the time to dig up the emails—many of which were him, Stone, and Bannon just “talking about how much we hate people”—would really waste his time.
“I don’t mind testifying,” Nunberg told MSNBC in one of the interviews. “I’m not going to sit there for 80 hours for the document request. I have real work to do. I have to earn a living ... I won’t spend 80 hours going over e-mails with Bannon and Roger Stone. Ari, Roger, and me, and Steve, we communicated like 50 times a day.”
It then apparently occurred to Nunberg in the course of yet another, later interview with CNN host Erin Burnett that maybe he could have just given Mueller his email password or something and saved the time?
“You know what I was thinking about today, by the way?” Nunberg said. “I was thinking to save time—I’ve been advised against this—maybe I’ll just give them my password, my email password ... Then I would comply.”
“What I’m not gonna do ... is sit for 15 hours after I’ve sat with them. I have no problem with them getting the emails,” Nunberg added, having apparently shaved 65 hours off his time estimate.
We get it, no one likes sorting through their inbox, and Nunberg’s sounds like it is perhaps especially terrible? Yet arguably the possibility of just giving Mueller access to his inbox is something Nunberg should have considered before going on TV. Because in the course of the time he spent talking to the media instead of doing that, he went on a number of astonishing and ill-advised tangents about how hates the president, that Trump aide Carter Page likely colluded with the Russians, that Mueller may have some kind of dirt on the president, and that press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders should “shut her fat mouth.”
One might have also advised Nunberg prior to his spree that most email clients allow users to quickly sort their entire message history with simple boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT). Perhaps Nunberg’s legal counsel, who should ostensibly be handling his subpoena responses, could have been given charge of this task. But earlier in the day, Nunberg told NBC of the near-certainty said lawyer was “going to dump me right now” as he gave the interviews.
Nunberg’s apparent frustration with email searches, however, makes a little more sense given another factor: Burnett told the former Trump aide that she “smelled alcohol on [his] breath.”
In fairness to Nunberg, this presidency has left us all very, very tired, and I’m not sure I could come up with a plausible pretext to play hooky on my big day before the grand jury either. But Mueller is probably going to get those emails whether Nunberg likes it or not.
Update 11:25pm ET: In yet another damn interview later this evening, Nunberg admitted that he is probably going to end up cooperating with Mueller. Thus the moral of the night is revealed: Complaining about how cluttered your inbox has gotten will not, as of yet, serve as a viable get-out-of-jail-free card from a massive federal investigation.