Apple told former White House counsel Don McGahn that his records were subpoenaed by DOJ in 2018: NYT

don mcgahn
Donald McGahn, lawyer and Trump advisor, exits following a meeting of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s national finance team at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, U.S., June 9, 2016.

  • Apple told Don McGahn last month that the DOJ subpoenaed information on an account in February 2018, according to the NYT.
  • The action occurred while McGahn was still serving under then-President Donald Trump.
  • According to the NYT, it is unclear what FBI agents were seeking, nor is it clear if McGahn was the subject of their focus.
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The former White House counsel Don McGahn and his wife were reportedly among those targeted by the Justice Department with a subpoena for their account records in February 2018, while McGahn was still serving under then-President Donald Trump, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The New York Times first reported on Sunday that McGahn was informed that data from an Apple account was sought by the DOJ, but he reportedly wasn’t told what was shared with the department. The government reportedly prevented Apple from informing McGahn about the subpoena at the time, according to the Times report.

The pursuit was under a nondisclosure order until May, which would reveal that the DOJ went to a judge on several occasions to keep the subpoena under wraps during the Trump presidency.

“The disclosure that agents secretly collected data of a sitting White House counsel is striking as it comes amid a political backlash to revelations about Trump-era seizures of data of reporters and Democrats in Congress for leak investigations,” according to The Times.

It is unclear what FBI agents were seeking, nor is it clear if McGahn was the subject of their focus.

According to The Times, agents “sometimes compile a large list of phone numbers and email addresses that were in contact with a subject, and seek to identify all those people by using subpoenas to communications companies for any account information like names, computer addresses and credit card numbers associated with them” when conducting investigations.

Apple reportedly told the McGahns that it received the subpoena on Feburary 23, 2018, according to an individual familar with the matter.

The subpoena was issued by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, according to The Times.

The Justice Department appears to have obtained information on McGahn and his wife during the same month that the DOJ subpoenaed Apple to gain access to the personal information of individuals associated with the House Intelligence Committee, including for two of its Democratic members.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a longtime political adversary of Trump who was one of the subpoena targets, on Friday called for a thorough review of his separate matter.

“We need a full accounting of the Trump DOJ’s abuse of power targeting Congress and the press,” he tweeted.

McGahn served as White House counsel for nearly two years, from January 2017 until his resignation in October 2018. He was a key witness in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether Trump obstructed justice in the FBI’s Russia investigation.

This story has been updated.

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Trump’s former White House counsel says he felt ‘frustrated, perturbed, trapped’ when Trump asked him to help fire Mueller

Trump McGahn
Trump and Don McGahn.

  • Trump’s ex-White House counsel said he felt “frustrated, perturbed, trapped” when Trump asked for his help firing Mueller.
  • He also said that he tried to “get off the phone” when Trump raised the subject.
  • Don McGahn made the comments while testifying to Congress last week about the Mueller probe.
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Former White House counsel Don McGahn testified to Congress last week that he felt “trapped” when then President Donald Trump asked him to help engineer the removal of the special counsel Robert Mueller during the Russia investigation.

McGahn was a central witness in Mueller’s inquiry into whether Trump obstructed justice as part of the Russia probe. Last week, in closed-door testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, McGahn recounted what it was like when Trump called him in 2017 and asked him to direct then acting attorney general Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller.

Mueller’s report said that after Trump made his demands clear, McGahn told the president that he would look into it. Sarah Istel, the judiciary committee’s lead counsel, asked McGahn about those comments last week.

“‘McGahn said he told the president that he would see what he could do,'” Istel said, reading from Mueller’s final report. “Do you recall saying that to the president?”

“I did say that, yeah,” McGahn replied.

“Did you intend to see what you could do?” she asked.

“No,” he said.

“Then why did you say that to the president?” Istel asked.

“I was trying to get off the phone,” McGahn said.

Istel later asked McGahn whether he felt concerned about his own potential liability and whether his involvement in orchestrating Mueller’s removal could make him a target of the obstruction investigation.

McGahn said he was, adding, “I was concerned about, if I were going to reach out to Rod, Rod’s reaction, how it would be perceived after the fact, and that it would cause potential eventualities to occur that would not be in anybody’s interests, including my own.”

“To answer the question you asked before, I did not want to insert myself into something that would cause me to be my own – that would compromise my own ability to remain as counsel,” he said.

Istel also asked McGahn how he felt after he got off the phone the second time Trump asked him to order Rosenstein to remove Mueller.

“Oof,” McGahn replied. “Frustrated, perturbed, trapped. Many emotions.” He also said he felt “concerned.”

When Istel asked him to elaborate why he felt that way, McGahn replied, “Felt trapped because the president had the same conversation with me repeatedly, and I thought I conveyed my views and offered my advice, and we were still having the same conversation.”

He continued: “And I figured, at some point, he’d want to have that conversation again. And, at that point, I wasn’t exactly sure how – how to navigate that one, so I felt that I was trapped.”

“We kept having the same conversation, so he wasn’t taking the answer the first time or subsequent times,” McGahn said.

Indeed, as Mueller’s final report said, McGahn felt so cornered by Trump’s repeated demand that he decided to resign.

“McGahn spoke with the President twice and understood the directive the same way both times, making it unlikely that he misheard or misinterpreted the President’s request,” the report said. “In response to that request, McGahn decided to quit. He called his lawyer, drove to the White House, packed up his office, prepared to submit a resignation letter with his chief of staff, told [then-White House Chief of Staff Reince] Preibus that the President had asked him to ‘do crazy shit.'”

McGahn ultimately stayed on as White House counsel but resigned in October 2018, six months before Mueller’s report was released to the public.

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Trump’s former White House counsel testified that there was ‘never really a good beginning, middle, and end’ to their conversations

WASHINGTON D.C., May 21, 2019 -- Then White House counsel Don McGahn reacts in the audience during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States, on Sept. 4, 2018. The White House on Monday instructed former counsel Don McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena and skip a hearing scheduled for Tuesday relating to the Russia probe. (Xinhua/Ting Shen) (Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images)
Don McGahn.

  • Trump’s ex-White House counsel testified that there was no good “beginning, middle, and end” to their conversations.
  • “You rarely leave conversations with President Trump,” he said. “It’s just – especially when you’re the counsel. You’re always kind of around.”
  • McGahn was a key figure in the Mueller probe and said Trump told him to “do crazy s—” to stop the investigation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former White House counsel Don McGahn told Congress this month that there was never a good “beginning, middle, and end” to his conversations with Donald Trump when Trump was president.

McGahn served as White House counsel for nearly two years before resigning in October 2018. He was a central witness in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice in the FBI’s Russia probe. After months of battling Congress’s requests for testimony, McGahn finally appeared behind closed doors last week. The House Judiciary Committee released a transcript of McGahn’s testimony on Wednesday.

At one point, the lead counsel for the House Judiciary Committee asked McGahn about one of the episodes Mueller highlighted in his report connected to the obstruction probe. Specifically, Trump told McGahn in the midst of the Russia investigation that he wanted to fire Mueller. McGahn refused and said doing so could be “another fact used to claim of obstruction of justice.”

The committee’s counsel, Sarah Istel, asked McGahn what other facts he was referring to during that conversation.

McGahn mentioned other data points in the obstruction probe including Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey and his efforts to stop Comey from investigating former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

McGahn stopped short of saying these instances definitively constituted obstruction but said he was concerned about how they could be perceived by the public.

After some back and forth about the semantics of McGahn’s claim that firing Mueller could be “another fact” used to claim he obstructed justice, Istel asked McGahn about his assessment that Trump could face the “biggest exposure” from his efforts to hamper Comey’s investigation into Flynn.

McGahn said he didn’t remember if he specifically used the word “exposure” but specified that he didn’t believe Comey’s removal was a legal issue for Trump because the president has the power to fire the FBI director.

“The real issues were more around former Director Comey’s recounting of meetings” and conversations he had with Trump, during which Trump asked him to lay off of investigating Flynn and demanded Comey’s loyalty.

“That was more, as a lawyer, where I was looking to alert the president,” McGahn said.

Istel then asked McGahn how he ended that conversation with Trump.

“No, I don’t recall. No,” he said. “You rarely leave conversations with President Trump. There’s never really a good beginning, middle, and end. It’s just – especially when you’re the counsel. You’re always kind of around.”

Indeed, McGahn’s name surfaced several times in Mueller’s report, including once when the special counsel detailed his reaction to Trump’s directive that Mueller be fired.

“McGahn spoke with the President twice and understood the directive the same way both times, making it unlikely that he misheard or misinterpreted the President’s request,” the report said. “In response to that request, McGahn decided to quit. He called his lawyer, drove to the White House, packed up his office, prepared to submit a resignation letter with his chief of staff, told [then-White House Chief of Staff Reince] Priebus that the President had asked him to ‘do crazy s—.'”

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Trump’s former White House counsel Don McGahn will possibly testify on the former president’s attempts to intervene in the Russia investigation next week

WASHINGTON D.C., May 21, 2019 -- Then White House counsel Don McGahn reacts in the audience during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States, on Sept. 4, 2018. The White House on Monday instructed former counsel Don McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena and skip a hearing scheduled for Tuesday relating to the Russia probe. (Xinhua/Ting Shen) (Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images)
Don McGahn.

  • Former White House counsel Don McGahn will likely testify before the House Judiciary Committee next week.
  • McGahn’s testimony will touch on whether Trump obstructed justice during the Mueller investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  • His testimony comes two years after he ignored an initial subpoena to testify on Trump.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former White House counsel Don McGahn has finally agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and it will likely happen next week, according to The New York Times.

McGahn’s testimony will take place in a closed-door session. It is likely to touch on Trump’s attempts to intervene in the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and will examine the extent of the former president’s interference.

The Times wrote that McGahn’s testimony had been delayed while lawyers for House Democrats, the DOJ, and McGahn waited to see how the former president’s camp would react. This is because McGahn’s deal to testify hinged upon there being no active legal challenge to his participation.

According to The Times, Trump had initially said he would intervene, but a lawyer for the former president announced last week that he would not be challenging McGahn on testifying.

According to a May 12 court filing, the testimony will be limited to “publicly available portions of the Mueller Report” and whether those portions “accurately reflected Mr. McGahn’s statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and whether those statements were truthful.”

McGahn was a key witness in the Mueller investigation. Insider reported that his name appears more than 160 times in the special counsel’s final 448-page report.

The testimony is happening at long last after a two-year fight to get McGahn in front of the House Judiciary Committee to find out whether Trump obstructed justice during the Mueller investigation.

In 2019, McGahn managed to dodge a subpoena from the Judiciary panel. At the time, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice fought that subpoena, and then-president Trump directed McGahn to not show up at his hearing, claiming that administration officials had “absolute immunity.”

The Biden administration’s DOJ and Congress struck a deal earlier this month for him to testify. A transcript of the McGahn interview will be released after his testimony, according to a court filing.

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