By Kevin Daley
President Donald Trump rebutted insinuations that White House counsel Don McGahn has turned on him Sunday, after The New York Times revealed that McGahn has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump wrote on Twitter early Sunday morning that he allowed McGahn to meet with investigators, while others connected to the administration said the White House counsel’s full cooperation is in the president’s own interest.
The Failing New York Times wrote a story that made it seem like the White House Councel had TURNED on the President, when in fact it is just the opposite – & the two Fake reporters knew this. This is why the Fake News Media has become the Enemy of the People. So bad for America!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2018
In a subsequent tweet, Trump compared the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to McCarthyism.
McGahn’s personal attorney, William Burck, issued a statement shortly after the Times piece appeared, indicating that Trump allowed McGahn to speak candidly with the special counsel. The Times piece notes that the president did not assert any form of privilege over his interactions with the White House counsel, in keeping with a strategy of total transparency adopted by Trump’s former defense attorneys, Ty Cobb and John Dowd. (RELATED: Judge Fears For Safety Of The Manafort Jury)
“President Trump, through counsel, declined to assert any privilege over Mr. McGahn’s testimony, so Mr. McGahn answered the special counsel’s questions fulsomely and honestly, as any person interviewed by federal investigators must,” Burck said.
Dowd told Axios by email that McGahn “was a very strong witness for the president,” as his testimony regarding Trump’s mindset at key moments of his administration could undermine claims that he obstructed justice.
However, the Times report asserts that the White House did not appreciate the extent of McGahn’s cooperation with Mueller. His voluntary interviews with investigators have totaled some 30 hours.
As White House counsel, McGahn is not Trump’s personal attorney, and any legal consultations between the two relating to personal matters is not subject to attorney-client privilege. Rather, the White House counsel advises the president on legal issues relating to his official duties. The position is better thought of as attorney for the presidency, as opposed to the president’s attorney.
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