Posts tagged with "White House Counsel Don McGahn"

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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