President Trump took to Twitter this afternoon to respond to the New York Times’ bombshell report about how White House Counsel Don McGahn has spent over 30 hours being interviewed by Special Counsel Mueller’s investigators.
McGahn told Mueller’s team everything there is to know about what happened behind the scenes during the early days of the Trump’s administration — and how they’re going to defend themselves against the looming obstruction of justice case that Mueller is putting together against the President.
It appears the President has chosen to go with the “nothing to hide” excuse.
I allowed White House Counsel Don McGahn, and all other requested members of the White House Staff, to fully cooperate with the Special Counsel. In addition we readily gave over one million pages of documents. Most transparent in history. No Collusion, No Obstruction. Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2018
While it’s true that Trump did tell Don McGahn to cooperate with Mueller, it was only because he misunderstood what the function of the White House counsel is, which is to advise the President on legal issues — not to behave as a personal defense lawyer for the Trump administration. The Times reports that:
“The president wrongly believed that Mr. McGahn would act as a personal lawyer would for clients and solely defend his interests to investigators, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking.”
Don McGahn, on his part, suspected that President Trump was trying to make him cooperate in order to make him the fall guy — so he went out of his way to make it clear to the investigators that he had done nothing wrong and had nothing to hide.
“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.”
So while it’s true that Trump did “allow” Don McGahn to meet with Mueller, it turns out that he had no idea just how much McGahn was saying to the Special Counsel.
White House officials told the Times that “it is not clear that Mr. Trump appreciates the extent to which Mr. McGahn has cooperated with the special counsel.”
Far from being most “transparent” administrations in history, it’s obvious that not even the President and one of his closest advisors weren’t even on the same page. He can keep repeating “no collusion” and no “obstruction” as often as he likes — but that’s not going to stop Mueller from making sure justice is served.