Published On: Sat, Aug 18th, 2018

White House lawyer ‘cooperating with obstruction probe of Trump’

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The top lawyer in the White House has been fully cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice in the Russia probe, it has been reported.

Donald McGahn, the White House counsel, has given lengthy statements to Mueller’s team – some 30 hours worth spread out over at least three voluntary interviews during the span of nine months.

The extent of McGahn’s cooperation was first reported by The New York Times, which cited dozens of current and former White House officials familiar with the matter.

Donald McGahn (above), the White House counsel, has been fully cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice in the Russia probe

Donald McGahn (above), the White House counsel, has been fully cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice in the Russia probe

Donald McGahn (above), the White House counsel, has been fully cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice in the Russia probe

McGahn has told the Special Counsel's investigators about Trump's responses to the Russia investigation, the president's firing of FBI Director James Comey, and attempts to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reassume control over the probe after he recused himself

McGahn has told the Special Counsel's investigators about Trump's responses to the Russia investigation, the president's firing of FBI Director James Comey, and attempts to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reassume control over the probe after he recused himself

McGahn has told the Special Counsel’s investigators about Trump’s responses to the Russia investigation, the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, and attempts to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reassume control over the probe after he recused himself

McGahn has told the Special Counsel’s investigators about Trump’s responses to the Russia investigation, the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, and attempts to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reassume control over the probe after he recused himself. 

The White House counsel also told Mueller’s team about Trump’s attempts to fire the Special Counsel.

Last year, Trump ordered Mueller fired but backed down after McGahn threatened to resign rather than follow his directive.

Mueller, who is investigating allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, learned of the incident in subsequent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in an inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.

The Times is reporting on Saturday that McGahn is the one who likely revealed the president’s intent to fire Mueller.

McGahn has given lengthy statements to Mueller's team - some 30 hours worth spread out over at least three voluntary interviews during the span of nine months. Mueller is seen in the above file photo

McGahn has given lengthy statements to Mueller's team - some 30 hours worth spread out over at least three voluntary interviews during the span of nine months. Mueller is seen in the above file photo

McGahn has given lengthy statements to Mueller’s team – some 30 hours worth spread out over at least three voluntary interviews during the span of nine months. Mueller is seen in the above file photo

The idea that the president’s top lawyer would be so forthcoming with prosecutors with potentially damaging information about his client is considered unusual, legal experts told the Times. 

People close to McGahn told the Times that he decided to fully cooperate with Mueller because he feared Trump was setting him up to take the fall for any potential illegal activity, including obstruction of justice.

McGahn and his lawyer, William Burck, decided to cooperate in order to show Mueller that the White House counsel had nothing to hide, according to the Times. 

McGahn has told Mueller’s team that he never personally witnessed Trump breaking the law, but the information he has divulged could be potentially damaging.

Trump, meanwhile, appears to have mistakenly believed that McGahn would act as his personal attorney who would defend the president’s interests. 

News of McGahn’s extensive cooperation with Mueller is likely to complicate the already-strained relationship between the two men.

The two men rarely speak to one another face to face. While Trump believes McGahn is not loyal enough, McGahn has called the president ‘King Kong’ behind his back because of his temper tantrums, the Times is reporting. 

Despite tensions over the Russia probe, however, McGahn has played a key role in one of Trump’s signature accomplishments since he became president – the dozens of judicial appointments to the federal bench, including the Supreme Court.

‘The president and Don have a great relationship,’ White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement to the Times. 

‘He appreciates all the hard work he’s done, particularly his help and expertise with the judges, and the Supreme Court’ nominees.  

McGahn, his attorney, and the Special Counsel’s office declined to comment.

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