White House Counsel Donald McGahn looks on as Donald Trump speaks
Trying to bury the Mueller Report on Trump-Russia links, the White House has asked former Counsel Donald McGahn to lie about Donald Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice.
White House officials asked McGahn at least twice in the past month to make a public statement clearing Trump, according to “two people briefed on the requests”.
McGahn is a central figure in two of the eight cases of obstruction or attempted obstruction by Trump that are detailed in the 448-page Mueller Report.
In June 2017, Trump ordered McGahn to contact Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who formally oversaw the investigation, and have him fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
In early 2018, after stories broke about the incident, Trump instructed McGahn to deny any attempt to remove Mueller.
The report’s account is based in part on 30 hours of interviews of McGahn by Mueller’s team.
A source said Trump asked White House officials to make the request McGahn to deny the report’s account. He said the former Counsel declined, angering Trump.
Before the public release of the report, but after the Justice Department gave a copy to Trump’s lawyers, the White House approached McGahn’s attorney William A. Burck, Trump’s lawyers maintained that Mueller left out McGahn’s statement that he believed Trump never obstructed justice.
But McGahn, who left the White House in October, declined to issue a statement supporting Trump after the report was released on April 18.
After McGahn’s refusal, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani attacked him, “[His account] can’t be taken at face value. It could be the product of an inaccurate recollection or could be the product of something else.”
Subpoena for Trump’s Tax Returns
Before and after the publication of the Mueller Report, the White House has pursued an all-out effort to bury its findings and prevent further examination.
Attorney General William Barr tried to spin the report in Trump’s favor, to the point of misrepresenting that it found “no collusion” and quashing any follow-up over obstruction of justice. The attempt frustrated Mueller and his team, with the Special Counsel writing Barr in late March about the damaging effect of misinterpretation.
Barr has refused to testify before the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee and to give legislators unredacted copies of the report, bringing a contempt of Congress charge by the Committee on Thursday.
The White House has asked McGahn not to comply with any subpoena to testify, and Trump said on Thursday that he will assert executive privilege to block any handover of the unredacted report.
The effort has extended to Trump’s tax returns and finances. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has rejected a House Ways and Means Committee request that the Internal Revenue Service provide Trump’s tax returns from 2012 to 2018, and Trump’s lawyers have filed in court to prevent his accountants from complying with a House Oversight Committee subpoena for six years of financial statements.
Trump’s long-time lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen has testified that Trump gave false information about his wealth to mislead tax and insurance officials.
On Friday, House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal formally subpoenaed the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service for the personal and business tax returns.
Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler said testimony is being sought from Mueller, but a date has not been agreed.
Trump’s camp are reportedly trying to prevent a Mueller appearance by claiming that he is still a Justice Department employee, putting him under executive privilege.