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White House Counsel: Obama ‘Did Not Know How’ to Engage Lawmakers Like Trump Does

WASHINGTON – White House Counsel Don McGahn said President Trump is engaging members of Congress in a way former President Obama “did not know how to do” during his time in office.

McGahn also said Trump is taking deregulation “very seriously.”

“The president has had a number of successes. The one that the media begrudgingly writes about is regulatory reform. The president is taking this very seriously. It’s not deregulation for the sake of deregulation. There’s a very real impact that overregulation, vague regulation, and arbitrary regulation has on our everyday lives. It’s very tough to plan your life when the rules always change,” McGahn said last Friday at the Republican National Lawyers Association’s annual policy conference at the National Press Club.

“It’s very tough to plan your business affairs when you are not sure what a regulator is going to do. It’s very tough to enjoy the promise of America when they keep moving the proverbial goalposts,  so something the media must admit is that we are actually doing quite a bit there and there are going to be more successes to come,” he added.

McGahn called the American Health Care Act a “good first step” in the replacement of Obamacare. The House cancelled a vote on AHCA at the end of March. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Trump had said the GOP would be moving on to tax reform.

“I would say that we will probably start going very, very strong for the big tax cuts and tax reform. That will be next,” Trump said at the time.

In mid-April, however, Trump said he wanted to finish healthcare before tacking tax reform. The House passed an amended version of the AHCA last week. Senate Republicans are expected to craft a different healthcare bill.

“The president really was engaged and did a remarkable job on engaging with House members and trying to bring people together there in a way that probably some predecessors, particularly the immediate predecessor, really did not know how to do or did not bother to do in a way that this president is going to do,” McGahn told the lawyers’ association.

McGahn said Trump is going to continue to roll out new judicial nominations.

“Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, you are going to be amazed at the exceptionalness of them all. I mean, the qualifications are impeccable and it’s really going to be an amazing thing. It’s certainly an honor to be a part of it and it really is going to show, I hope, what I said to [former Attorney] General [Edwin] Meese before that we’re really going to pick up where he left off and I look to him as an inspiration as to how to serve the president with advice on that issue,” he said.

On Monday, the White House announced 10 federal court nominees including John K. Bush of Kentucky to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and David R. Stras to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Meese, the former attorney general under President Reagan, presented McGahn with the Ed Meese Award at the conference.

“He’s not only done a great job in the campaign representing the Trump campaign, but has now embarked on a very important task and that is to defend the White House, the president and the current administration from what are often, again, unfair attacks from our opponents,” Meese said of McGahn.

PJM tried to ask McGahn a follow-up question on his way out of the venue but he did not respond.