- 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.
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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—.'”