A former Trump White House Counsel just revealed a significant fact about the precarious situation that both the President and his lawyers stand in as subjects of a criminal investigation. It turns out that White House Counsel Don McGahn took an unusual step to separate himself and his entire office from the Russia probe.
That, in turn, explains why President Trump isn’t on speaking terms with McGahn, who is still a high ranking official. The White House Counsel’s office’s recusal is a significant new sign of the scope and seriousness of Mueller’s investigation into the firing of FBI Director James Comey and attempts to influence the Special Counsel and Congressional investigations by all of Trump’s “best people.”
White House Counsel Ty Cobb was brought in last summer to handle the voluminous requests for documents from Special Counsel Mueller when he began a formal obstruction of justice probe one year ago as of tomorrow. Politico reports:
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“The White House made a decision to recuse his entire office,” former White House attorney Ty Cobb said on Wednesday, during a panel discussion hosted by George Mason University in Northern Virginia, because many of his office’s lawyers played significant roles in key episodes at the center of the probe,
The former Trump White House lawyer explained that McGahn’s recusal was a key reason for why he was hired last summer
Donald Trump has been publicly livid about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Trump-Russia probe due to his close involvement in the campaign and transition, both of which are under criminal investigations.
His frequent interviews about Sessions, un-Presidential sad tweets and complaints that the Attorney General won’t conduct his partisan investigations have become a very public part of Mueller’s case to prove that Trump acted to influence his probe with corrupt intent.
But the President hasn’t publicly lit into Don McGahn in the same way, even though he must be doubly upset by the entire legal staff – which nominally does work for him – recusing themselves over Russia.
President Obama’s former top ethics lawyer expressed shock over the White House Counsel’s office recusing themselves from the Russia probe, but not for the usual reasons in the Trump Administration:
“It tells us how deeply rooted this scandal is in every different part of the White House,” said Norm Eisen, a former top Obama White House ethics attorney in the audience for Cobb’s remarks.
But Eisen, a frequent critic of the Trump administration, also praised McGahn’s recusal decision as the right one to make from an ethical standpoint. “It’s like a ray of sunshine when you learn they did the right thing,” he said.
President Trump is about to find out, just like President Nixon did, that the White House Counsel works for the Executive office of the President and not the man personally.
The key witness against Nixon was his White House Counsel John Dean.
If Trump hadn’t entangled the entire White House Counsel’s office in his cover-up, McGahn, as a highly partisan Republican former Jones Day lawyer, would’ve probably taken up all manner of Trump’s frivolous claims and wreaked havoc on Mueller’s investigation.
But now, we’ve learned that the only reason America was spared that even worse experience with Donald Trump in the Oval Office, is that his White House Counsel Don McGahn actually did the right thing, and stepped away from all matters relating to the Russia probe.