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
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
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
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!”