Columns

White House Counsel McGahn Leaving After Supreme Court Justice Confirmed

White House counsel Don McGahn follows Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh to his meeting with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Capitol Hill in Washington on Aug. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON — White House counsel Don McGahn is out of the administration per, as has become a not-unusual way of breaking the news, presidential tweet.

Though President Trump and McGahn had previously discussed when the counsel might leave the White House, McGahn reportedly was not given a head’s up that the news was coming.

“White House Counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his position in the fall, shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!” Trump tweeted this morning.

Last week, the New York Times reported that McGahn spent 30 hours talking with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team over the course of three interviews. McGahn’s cooperation with Mueller was reportedly driven by his own lawyer’s fears that the White House, through declining to assert privilege, was trying to set up McGahn to take the fall for potential obstruction of justice incidents.

The interviews occurred under Trump’s last legal team, who opted for a cooperative strategy with Mueller until the president dumped them and brought on Rudy Giuliani for a more combative stance. Trump’s old legal team, John Dowd and Ty Cobb, reportedly did not ask for a debriefing of what happened during McGahn’s time with Mueller, thus the White House does not know how much McGahn has cooperated.

Trump Twitter-slammed the “Fake piece” by the NYT “implying that because White House Councel [sp] Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel [sp], he must be a John Dean type ‘RAT.’ But I allowed him and all others to testify – I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide and have demanded transparency so that this Rigged and Disgusting Witch Hunt can come to a close. So many lives have been ruined over nothing – McCarthyism at its WORST!”

McGahn reportedly threatened to resign last year rather than carry out a Trump order to fire Mueller.

A front-runner expected to potentially replace McGahn is Emmet Flood, a special counsel in George W. Bush’s administration who advised President Clinton during his impeachment and has been leading the White House response to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia influence investigation.

“If the reporting is true about Don McGahn’s time at the White House coming to an end later this year, it will be sad news for our country,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement. “Don is the most impressive White House Counsel during my time in Washington, and I’ve known them all. His departure from the White House, whenever that may be, would be a big loss for the Trump Administration and the country.”

“Don’s significance to the judiciary, the White House and the nation cannot be overstated, and I look forward to his continued efforts on behalf of our country,” McConnell added.