President Donald Trump must be very concerned about what former White House counsel Don McGahn will tell Congress.
McGahn was a key witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, having spent over 30 hours in interviews with Mueller. Mueller’s report, released last month, describes efforts by Trump to have McGahn call Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to convince him to fire the special counsel—barely a month after Mueller was appointed.
McGahn called Trump’s request “crazy shit” and threatened to quit rather than carry out the order.
When The New York Times reported about the incident in January 2018, Trump wanted McGahn to publicly dispute the newspaper’s reporting. Again, McGahn refused.
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported another detail of the president’s ongoing obstruction saga involving McGahn, who has once again rebuffed Trump. According to the newspaper, a day after the release of the Mueller report, Trump wanted McGahn to publicly state that the president’s directive in 2017 to fire Mueller didn’t amount to obstruction of justice.
The president sent his request via special counsel Emmet Flood, who approached McGahn’s attorney, William Burck. Burck said, “We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister. It was a request, professionally and cordially made,” the Journal reported.
Per the story:
Mr. McGahn turned down the request because he didn’t want to weigh in on the totality of evidence in the report beyond his own testimony, and didn’t want to comment on his own testimony in isolation, the people said. Mr. McGahn also didn’t view his personal opinion as relevant, because Attorney General William Barr had already said he didn’t believe the evidence in Mr. Mueller’s report amounted to obstruction of justice, the people said.
In other words, you’ve got your consigliere in Attorney General Barr, Mr. Trump, so leave me alone.
McGahn is caught in the middle of a battle between the House Judiciary Committee and the White House. On Tuesday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent letters to McGahn’s attorney and to House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler arguing that documents Nadler had subpoenaed from McGahn would violate executive branch confidentiality and executive privilege.
Nadler responded by telling Burck that the committee would vote to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress if he fails to appear to testify on May 21.
The House Judiciary Committee also wants Mueller to testify, and was hoping he might do so on May 15. However, that date hasn’t been confirmed, and it increasingly appears that it might not happen next week.
As for Trump, he initially said the decision about whether Mueller should testify to Congress is up to Barr. The next day, Trump tweeted, “Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!”