White House counsel Don McGahn set to depart amid Mueller probe tensions
- Author: Joey Payne Aug 30, 2018,
Aug 30, 2018, 0:31
White House counsel Don McGahn, a key adviser to President Donald Trump, will be leaving his position in the coming weeks, Trump said Wednesday.
McGahn's departure had been widely expected but was met with dismay by Senate Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley, who wrote in a tweet addressed to Trump: "I hope it's not true McGahn is leaving WhiteHouse Counsel".
News of McGahn's departure comes after it was revealed he was questioned by Robert Mueller's "Russiagate" investigation.
White House officials, including the president himself, have insisted they did not have any concerns related to testimony from McGahn that could bolster claims the president sought to obstruct justice.
The New York Times reported earlier in August that McGahn had given 30 hours of interviews to Mueller over the past nine months.
McGahn reportedly threatened to resign past year rather than carry out a Trump order to fire Mueller.
Reporter Maggie Haberman, who first wrote on McGahn's meetings with Mueller for the New York Times, countered that notion in an August 18 tweet, saying the White House "didn't understand the extent" of McGahn's cooperation.
McGahn played a role in Trump's selection of both Kavanaugh and Justice Neil Gorsuch as candidates for the Supreme Court.
Throughout that process, McGahn has had tense clashes with Trump's outside lawyers on Russian Federation - as well as former White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who coordinated the White House's interaction with Mueller's team - questioning their cooperative strategy in the case.
Trump called The Times' story "Fake" because he said it implied that McGahn had become a "RAT" like John Dean, the White House counsel who cooperated with prosecutors in the Watergate scandal that helped end Richard Nixon's presidency. Flood also worked for former President George W. Bush.
In a statement to ABC News, Grassley's spokesman said the senator's tweet reflected his admiration for McGahn's work regarding judicial nominees.
Trump has continued to apply public pressure on his attorney general, telling Fox News last week that Sessions never had control of the Justice Department and that the only reason he selected him was because he had been loyal on the campaign trail. Prior to that, he was chairman of the Federal Election Commission.