Don McGahn, former Trump White House attorney, ‘was clearly distressed’ by ex-president’s behavior, top Democrat says after congressional testimony

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Former White House counsel Don McGahn departs after appearing for questioning behind closed doors by the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 4, 2021.

  • Former White House counsel Don McGahn testified Friday before the House Judiciary Committee.
  • The testimony related to former President Donald Trump’s response to the Mueller investigation.
  • New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler said McGahn “was clearly distressed” by Trump’s behavior
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump’s White House counsel, Don McGahn, “was clearly distressed” by his boss’s response to the Mueller investigation, a top Democrat said Friday following congressional testimony.

“Mr. McGahn testified at length to an extremely dangerous period in our nation’s history – in which President Trump, increasingly unhinged and fearful of his own liability, attempted to obstruct the Mueller investigation at every turn,” New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

McGahn’s closed-door testimony came as part of the committee’s investigation into Trump’s obstruction of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

A transcript of the hearing will be released at a future date, Nadler said.

“Mr. McGahn was clearly distressed by President Trump’s refusal to follow his legal advice, again and again, and he shed new light on several troubling events,” the lawmaker said.

The committee had issued a subpoena for McGahn’s testimony back in 2019. At the time, he refused, citing “executive privilege,” a reference to the president’s ability to receive frank advise from his aides.

McGahn ultimately agreed to testify earlier this year after a deal struck between the Biden Department of Justice and congressional Democrats, his remarks limited to “publicly available portions of the Mueller Report,” according to a May 12 court filing.

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New York lawmakers are calling for an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

  • Top New York lawmakers have come out in favor of an independent investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
  • Two former staffers have publicly alleged they were sexually harassed by the New York governor.
  • Cuomo’s office said there would be an investigation, but critics worry his pick to conduct one will not be impartial.  
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

State and federal lawmakers are coming out in support of an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

In December, a former aide said she had been sexually harassed by the governor “for years.” At the time, Lindsey Boylan, who worked for the governor between 2015 and 2018, did not divulge specific information about the circumstances and declined to speak to journalists. 

But last week, Boylan broke her silence in a Medium post, said Cuomo had touched her inappropriately and kissed her without her consent

Cuomo’s office has repeatedly denied her claims. “As we said before, Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” press secretary Caitlin Girouard said in a statement.

The New York Times on Saturday published the account of a second former aide who said Cuomo made unwanted sexual advances toward her multiple times. 

“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Charlotte Bennett told the Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”

Cuomo’s office denied her claims and said the governor had always “tried to act as a mentor to Bennett.” His office also announced a “full and thorough outside review” into Bennett’s allegations.

Former federal judge Barbara Jones, who has close ties to a Cuomo advisor, has been tapped to carry out the investigation. Lawmakers are not convinced that her investigation will be fair and objective.

Instead, they’re calling for New York Attorney General Letitia James to determine the third party that conducts the investigation.

“The recent allegations of sexual harassment against Governor Cuomo are deeply troubling and deserve a thorough investigation,” said New York Rep. Jerry Nadler. “It must be transparent, impartial, and above all else, independent. As has become standard practice in the State of New York when allegations relate directly to the Executive, Governor Cuomo should refer the matter to the Attorney General, who should, in turn, appoint an independent investigator.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York also called for an independent investigation, saying in a tweet that Boylan and Bennett’s accounts “are extremely serious and painful to read.”

New York Rep. Antonio Delgado echoed those sentiments, saying Cuomo “should follow precedent by referring this matter to the Attorney General.”

“Breaking from past practices in the face of such serious allegations is not acceptable,” Delgado added.  

“The accused CANNOT appoint the investigator,” New York Rep. Kathleen Rice said. “PERIOD.”

Some state legislators are siding with the House dems as well. 

“I believe the Attorney General should make an appointment to ensure that it is a truly independent investigation,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie wrote on Twitter.

President Joe Biden on Saturday also indicated that he supports an independent probe into the allegations.

Cuomo’s office did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

James in a tweet Sunday morning said she stands “ready to oversee that investigation and make any appointments necessary” but awaits the governor’s call to initiate an investigation. 

“Given state law, this can only be accomplished through an official referral from the governor’s office and must include subpoena power,” James said. “I urge the governor to make this referral immediately.”

 

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