The New York Times quietly dropped a report this morning that reveals a top White House official who has been at the center of the President’s response to the Trump-Russia investigation has been cooperating “extensively” with Special Counsel Mueller.
White House Counsel Don McGahn has conducted 30 hours of interviews with Mueller’s team in which he “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.”
In what is becoming a very common theme among members of Trump’s White House, McGahn and his own lawyer grew worried that the President was setting him up to take the fall for any acts of obstruction by asking him to cooperate with Mueller, so McGahn went above and beyond what was required of him to protect his own skin.
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“Mr. McGahn and his lawyer, William A. Burck, could not understand why Mr. Trump was so willing to allow Mr. McGahn to speak freely to the special counsel and feared Mr. Trump was setting up Mr. McGahn to take the blame for any possible illegal acts of obstruction, according to people close to him. So he and Mr. Burck devised their own strategy to do as much as possible to cooperate with Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that Mr. McGahn did nothing wrong.”
In a hilariously ironic twist, it turns out the President fundamentally misunderstood what the role of the White House counsel was. Trump thought McGahn would be defending him like a private lawyer would, which is why he told him to cooperate with Mueller — and his ignorance has come back to haunt him.
While it’s still murky as to just how bad this is for the President — the Times warns that the cooperation is “giving investigators a mix of information both potentially damaging and favorable to the president” — McGahn’s cooperation is a huge boon for the prosecution.
“Oh my God, it would have been phenomenally helpful to us. It would have been like having the keys to the kingdom” said Solomon L. Weisenberg, a former deputy counsel for the Whitewater investigation into President Clinton.
If there was anything that was going to do in the president, it’s the knowledge that he will freely throw everyone around him under the bus in order to protect himself, which means everyone around him is taking steps to insulate themselves and deflect blame back on to Trump — and you can bet that the Special Counsel is going to take full advantage of it.