Posts tagged with "White House Counsel Don McGahn"

House Judiciary panel agrees on procedural steps to impeachment, as Dems covertly list credible charges

September 13, 2019

Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee clandestinely have begun to compile a list of possible charges against President Donald Trump— delineating potential articles of impeachment—even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders publicly resist taking such action, The Washington Post reported on September 12. 

Indeed, the Post says, the procedural tools approved on Wednesday—on a 24-17 party line vote—by that committee are similar to those used against former presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton.

Commenting on the markup of the resolution for investigative procedures, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) said in his opening remarks: “The resolution before us represents the necessary next step in our investigation of corruption, obstruction, and abuse of power.

“This Committee has already covered the central findings of the Special Counsel’s investigation,” he said, adding, “The President’s 2016 campaign asked for and received the assistance of the Russian government.  Key figures from the campaign then lied to federal investigators about it.  The Special Counsel found that, at least ten times, the President took steps to interfere with the investigation.  In at least five of those incidents, the Special Counsel concluded that all of the elements necessary to charge obstruction of justice had been met.”

Nadler continued, “Our investigation is not only about obstruction. Our work must also extend beyond the four corners of the Mueller Report.  We have a responsibility to consider allegations of federal election crimes, self-dealing, violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, and a failure to defend our nation from future attacks by foreign adversaries.

“And, of course, this Committee and others have gone to court to secure evidence that has been withheld from Congress on indefensible legal grounds.  Former White House Counsel Donald McGahn is not ‘absolutely immune’ from appearing before this Committee.  We require his testimony for our obstruction investigation.  But the President has vowed to ‘fight all of the subpoenas,’ and this, too, is conduct that requires a congressional response.

“As Members of Congress—and, in particular, as members of the House Judiciary Committee—we have a responsibility to investigate each of these allegations and to determine the appropriate remedy.  That responsibility includes making a judgment about whether to recommend articles of impeachment.”

He ended with a call to action. “…We have a constitutional, historical, and moral obligation to fully investigate these matters.  Let us take the next step in that work without delay. I urge my colleagues to adopt this resolution.”

According to the Post’s report, additional potential impeachment articles being explored by the committee could focus on hush-money payments to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.

Sources told the news outlet that the current behind-the-scenes planning reflects a growing desire among House Democrats to build a public case against Trump—and soon—even if there is no chance the Senate would convict him.

The additional tools approved on Wednesday would, the Post says, allow the committee to designate certain hearings as impeachment sessions, allow counsels to question witnesses publicly, permit some evidence to remain private and allow the president’s counsel to respond in writing to evidence and testimony.

Trump “has trampled the Constitution,” said Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), a committee member who has drafted his own articles, threatened to introduce them and then backed off after learning of the panel’s plans to eventually craft its own. “There is just so much you could go after. It’s going to be refining it down to the most salient.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) commented that the vote was a “continuation of what we have been doing.” Asked Thursday to clarify whether Democrats have taken a new step toward impeachment, Pelosi demurred, according to a report by The Huffington Post, saying,  “There’s nothing different from one day to the next,” she said. “We’re still on our same path.”

She added that the investigations, which have been greatly stymied by the administration’s refusal to comply with subpoenas, were moving at a good pace.

“We are, from a timing standpoint, where we need to be,” Pelosi said

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Pelosi meets with caucus to discuss strategies on Trump and impeachment

May 22, 2019

Following former White House counsel Don McGahn’s failure to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on May 21, Congressional Democratic leaders said they had worn out their patience—and that President Donald Trump had exhausted his options for stonewalling legislators.

Outraged over White House obstruction of their investigative efforts, House Democrats began urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) to address the looming Constitutional crisis by launching impeachment proceedings immediately.

“We are confronting what might be the largest, broadest cover-up in American history,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters. If a House inquiry “leads to other avenues, including impeachment,” the Maryland Democrat said, “so be it,” according to a report by Stars and Stripes.

Representatives Joaquin Castro of Texas and Diana DeGette of Colorado added their voices to the chorus. “It’s time for Congress to open an impeachment inquiry. There is political risk in doing so, but there’s a greater risk to our country in doing nothing,” Castro said on Twitter. “This is a fight for our democracy.”

Indeed, according to a report by The Hill, all told, at least 25 Democrats are now on record supporting the start of proceedings to oust Trump. That list includes several committee chairs and members of the Speaker’s own leadership team.

While Pelosi had hoped for a slower, more orderly process, she recognizes that starting an inquiry may be the only way for House Democrats to obtain the documentation and testimony on Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and obstruction of justice by the administration.

In a sign that she may be reaching her tipping point, Pelosi invited some members of the House Democratic Caucus to a meeting on Wednesday, May 22, to assess strategy, Stars and Stripes reported.

“This isn’t about politics, it’s not about passion, it’s not about prejudice,” she said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday. “It’s about patriotism and it’s about the presentation of the facts, so that the American people can see why we’re going down a certain path.”

Research contact: @starsandstripes

Chilling news for White House: Counsel Don McGahn cooperated with Mueller

August 21, 2018

White House Counsel Don McGahn —who signed on with Donald Trump in 2015 as the lawyer for his long-shot presidential bid and remains with him to this day—has cooperated extensively with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to a dozen current and former administration officials and others briefed on the matter, The New York Times reported on August 18..

In an estimated 30-plus hours of voluntary interviews with the special counsel’s team over the past nine months, McGahn allegedly shared detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice, including some that investigators would not have learned of otherwise, according to the news outlet.

Reportedly, McGahn described the president’s fury toward the Russia investigation and the ways in which he urged his counsel to respond to it. He provided the investigators examining whether Trump has obstructed justice a clear view of the president’s most intimate moments with his lawyer.

Among them were the POTUS’s comments and actions during the firing of the F.B.I. Director  James B. Comey; as well as Trump’s obsession with putting a loyalist in charge of the inquiry, including his repeated urging of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to claim oversight of it. McGahn also was centrally involved in the president’s attempts to fire the special counsel, which investigators might not have discovered without him.

For a lawyer to share so much with investigators scrutinizing his client is unusual, the Times noted.  Lawyers are rarely so open with investigators—not only because they are advocating on behalf of their clients; but also because their conversations with clients are potentially shielded by attorney-client privilege, and in the case of presidents, executive privilege.

A prosecutor would kill for that,” Solomon Wisenberg, a deputy independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation, told the Times. That probe  did not have the same level of cooperation from President Bill Clinton’s lawyers. “Oh my God, it would have been phenomenally helpful to us. It would have been like having the keys to the kingdom.”

McGahn’s cooperation began in part as a result of a decision by President Trump’s first team of criminal lawyers to collaborate fully with Mueller. The president’s lawyers have explained that they believed their client had nothing to hide and that they could bring the investigation to an end quickly.

McGahn and his own retained lawyer, William A. Burck, could not understand why the president was so willing to allow McGahn to speak freely to the special counsel—and feared Mr. Trump was setting up McGahn to take the blame for any possible illegal acts of obstruction, according to people close to him. So he and Burck devised their own strategy to do as much as possible to cooperate with Mueller, in order to demonstrate that McGahn did nothing wrong, the Times reports..

It is not clear that Mr. Trump appreciates the extent to which Mr. McGahn has cooperated with the special counsel. The president wrongly believed that  McGahn would act as a personal lawyer would for clients and solely defend his interests to investigators, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking.

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment for the  article.

Asked for comment, the White House sought to quell the sense of tension. “The president and Don have a great relationship,” the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. “He appreciates all the hard work he’s done, particularly his help and expertise with the judges, and the Supreme Court” nominees.

The president stressed that the White House had been cooperative with the investigation, tweeting on August 18 after this article was published that McGahn had been allowed to speak to the special counsel:  “I allowed White House Counsel Don McGahn, and all other requested members of the White House Staff, to fully cooperate with the Special Counsel. In addition we readily gave over one million pages of documents. Most transparent in history. No Collusion, No Obstruction. Witch Hunt!”

Research contact: @nytmike

President’s counsel averted firing of Mueller last June

January 29, 2018

Although U.S. President Donald Trump stated at a June 9  press conference in the White House Rose Garden that he “would be “100% willing” to testify under oath to Robert Mueller and his team at the Justice Department, that same month, he tried to have the special counsel fired, according to a January 25 report by The New York Times.

Trump is said by the Times story to have gone to White House Counsel Don McGahn with a list of reasons why Mueller’s appointment represented a conflict of interest with the investigation—among them, a dispute over fees at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia; a former relationship with the law firm that now represented the POTUS’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and Mueller’s interview for the FBI director position by the White House just the day before he was appointed to helm the DOJ investigation.

With that list in hand, the president demanded that McGahn call Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and order that Mueller be ousted, based on the Times report. McGahn balked at the idea—threatening to quit if the president pressed him on it. According to the Times, Trump then backed off.

In drawing a line, McGahn is said to have headed off a Constitutional crisis. He also supported the will of the American people: More than two-thirds of Americans (68%) think Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and attempts by the White House to obstruct justice —and only 14% think he should be fired, a Marist Poll revealed on January 17

When asked about his actions by reporters as he arrived in Davos, Switzerland, for meetings with global political and business leaders attending the World Economic Forum, the President said, “Fake news, folks. A typical New York Times fake story.”

Research contactLee.Miringoff@Marist.edu

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