This is one for the books. None other than White House counsel Don McGahn is a central witness in the obstruction investigation being conducted by Robert Mueller. New York Times:
“A prosecutor would kill for that,” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, a deputy independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation, which 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.”
This is good for McGahn but not so good for Trump. Trump doesn’t understand that McGahn is not his personal lawyer but rather a lawyer for the presidency, whose interest is to protect the office, not Trump as an individual. Plus, Trump was listening to then White House lawyers John Dowd and Ty Cobb on this subject. They’re both long gone because the Mueller probe got way beyond their comfort zone. That leaves McGahn.
Mr. McGahn’s decision to cooperate with the special counsel grew out of Mr. Dowd’s and Mr. Cobb’s game plan, now seen as misguided by some close to the president.
Last fall, Mr. Mueller’s office asked to interview Mr. McGahn. To the surprise of the White House Counsel’s Office, Mr. Trump and his lawyers signaled that they had no objection, without knowing the extent of what Mr. McGahn was going to tell investigators.
Mr. McGahn was stunned, as was Mr. [William] Burck, [McGahn’s attorney] whom he had recently hired out of concern that he needed help to stay out of legal jeopardy, according to people close to Mr. McGahn. Mr. Burck has explained to others that he told White House advisers that they did not appreciate the president’s legal exposure and that it was “insane” that Mr. Trump did not fight a McGahn interview in court.
Insane or not, McGahn has been talking a lot with Mueller’s investigators.
In at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled 30 hours over the past nine months, Mr. McGahn described the president’s furor toward the Russia investigation and the ways in which he urged Mr. McGahn to respond to it. He provided the investigators examining whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice a clear view of the president’s most intimate moments with his lawyer.
Among them were Mr. Trump’s comments and actions during the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and Mr. 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. Mr. McGahn was also centrally involved in Mr. Trump’s attempts to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which investigators might not have discovered without him.
McGahn is going to continue to do what he was hired to do, which is protect the office of the president. He is a cooperating witness in what Trump characterizes as a “rigged witch hunt.” Keep an eye on this development, this is going to be interesting.