White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II is one of Donald Trump’s closest lawyers — yet he has cooperated extensively in the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation, relaying accounts about whether President Trump obstructed justice, including information that some investigators were not have discovered otherwise, according to current and former White House officials that have been briefed on the matter.
Sources told the New York Times that McGahn had had three voluntary interviews with Mueller’s team, totaling more than 30 hours. Among the discussions that McGahn discussed with investigators is Trump’s firing of former director James Comey and the President’s repeated urging of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to claim oversight of the special counsel so that it wouldn’t be so focused on him and his campaign.
McGahn provided investigators examining whether Trump obstructed justice a clear view of his intimate moments in the White House. Inquiries were made as to Trump’s propensity to put loyalists in positions of power.
Mueller’s team has a great cooperator in the White House: Trump’s top lawyer, Don McGahn. Trump and McGahn have a complicated, mutually beneficial but ultimately terrible relationship — so bad McGahn calls Trump “King Kong” behind his back. w/@maggieNYT https://t.co/GGss1IlqLE
— Michael S. Schmidt (@nytmike) August 18, 2018
According to Comey, seven days after Trump was sworn in as President, he had a one on one dinner with the new commander-in-chief. During the dinner, Comey made small talk about the election and crowd sizes, and Trump turned the conversation about whether he will pledge his loyalty to him. Comey declined, instead offering honesty. He believes that this caused the relationship with Trump to sour. The Mueller investigators inquired about this insatiable need for loyalists.
McGahn’s eagerness to speak about his tenure in the White House and the unique relationship that he has with the President is a bit unusual. Lawyers are rarely so open with investigators, instead choosing to be more tight-lipped. Not only that, but lawyers are usually advocating on behalf of their clients, with private conversations being shielded by attorney-client privileges, and in the case of Trump, executive privilege.
However, McGahn’s openness could help push the Mueller investigation forward.