Don McGahn John Dowd politics robert mueller Trump ty cobb

‘He Didn’t Incriminate Him’: Don McGahn’s Lawyer Tells Trump Things Should Be Maybe, Probably Ok

"The strategy is working."

It’s been a tough couple of days for whatever’s left of Donald Trump’s legal team and in keeping with recent precedent, the problem is, well, Donald Trump’s legal team.

From the very beginning of the Robert Mueller probe, experts variously suggested that Trump was woefully outgunned on the legal front. That contention has been borne out on any number of occasions and it was validated in dramatic fashion over the weekend when The New York Times detailed some 30 hours of interviews White House counsel Don McGahn gave to the special counsel.

Apparently, McGahn couldn’t understand why John Dowd and Ty Cobb insisted on being transparent with Mueller. Lacking a plausible explanation for what he and his attorney believed to be a foolhardy strategy, McGahn assumed he was being set up to take the fall for obstruction. So, in an effort to inoculate himself, the White House counsel told Mueller’s team everything he knew about key events including, but no limited to, the firing of James Comey, Trump’s efforts to pressure Jeff Sessions and, importantly, the President’s alleged attempts to fire Mueller himself.

Subsequently, the Times reported that McGahn and his lawyer Bill Burck did not provide Trump’s legal team with a detailed account of the Mueller interviews and worse still, whatever account they did provide was conveyed only secondhand to Rudy Giuliani once John Dowd resigned. In other words, Trump’s team really has no idea what McGahn might have said.

On Monday, the President lashed out at the special “councel” on Twitter, calling Mueller’s team a “national disgrace” and branding them a gang of “Angry Thugs”. [sic] [sic] 

Naturally, McGahn and Burck are at pains to tell Giuliani and Trump what Mueller might know or, more to the point, whether McGahn might have said anything over the course of 30 hours of interview time that could implicate Trump in wrongdoing.

According to the Washington Post, McGahn and Burck “do not believe” McGahn implicated the President. Here’s WaPo:

McGahn’s attorney, Bill Burck, told Trump’s lawyers this past weekend that McGahn did not assert that Trump engaged in any wrongdoing when he spoke to Mueller’s investigators in three lengthy interviews since last November, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

“He did not incriminate him,” Burck wrote in one email, which was described by multiple people.

Burck has assured Trump’s lawyers that McGahn did not witness Trump engaged in any crime and would have resigned from his White House post if he had, according to people familiar with the conversations.

At the same time, Burck has cautioned them that McGahn is only one witness and that he does not know all the evidence Mueller has gathered that could pose problems for Trump, or how the information McGahn has provided could fit into the broader case.

Apparently, John Dowd “debriefed” McGahn following a marathon interview with Mueller in November, but in what I can only describe as a colossal mistake, “asked only for a broad assessment of how McGahn’s sessions with Mueller had gone, rather than specifics”. That’s according to WaPo’s sources.

Why Dowd would not be interested in the “specifics” of an “all-day” interview between the White House counsel and a team of experienced, aggressive prosecutors looking for information about the President is beyond me. It sounds like Dowd just kind of casually asked “how’d it go, Don?”

“A deeper debrief might have prevented the White House from being surprised by some details that later emerged in news reports,” WaPo goes on to write, again citing a source although they needn’t have bothered considering that’s a common sense assessment.

Of course this goes well beyond McGahn. Trump’s transparency strategy led to Mueller’s team interviewing a long list of Trump officials and advisors including Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon. Again, McGahn did not think that was a good idea, but John Dowd and Jay Sekulow were out on Monday insisting that it’s aaaaaall part of the master plan.

“The strategy is working,” Dowd said in a statement. “What Ty Cobb and John Dowd did was very calculated,” Sekulow mused.

Well John and Jay, not according to Don McGahn it isn’t/wasn’t.

Time will tell whether the White House counsel will be proven right to have suggested that being open with Mueller was a potentially disastrous decision and there will be more than a little irony involved if it’s McGahn’s interviews that end up implicating the President.

13 comments on “‘He Didn’t Incriminate Him’: Don McGahn’s Lawyer Tells Trump Things Should Be Maybe, Probably Ok

  1. Anonymous says:

    H, “Trump being out-gunned by Mueller on the legal front” ? Your bias is once again clouding intelligent thought on your behalf. Other than hoping to get the President into a perjury trap, it’s as Strzok said “there is no there there.”

    • You do realize that’s the consensus assessment in the legal community, right? It’s not my “bias”, I’m stating the opinion of lawyers. Your bias is causing you to deny reality, which is trying to reassert itself on an hourly basis, but which this President spends every waking second trying to suspend. If your inclination is to believe him, well then by all means. You’re certainly not alone.

      • Anonymous says:

        My inclination is to doubt much of what the New York Times reports on “background.” Lawyers have expressed opinions from one extreme to the other but it seems reasonable that Atty McGahn would advise his client (Trump) if he was gave detrimental information. Why are McGahn and Burck “at pains” to tell Giuliani and trump what Mueller might know or not know? I’m not suggesting it was a good idea to have McGahn talk to Mueller but my guess is no damage will come as a result of his 30 hours conversation.

      • Anonymous says:

        Heis, as I sit here I picture you salivating at the prospect of Mr. Cohen turning on trump on his plea agreement. I will bet that he will not turn on trump and provide false witness to Mueller. wishing and hoping won’t make it so. let’s look toward trump 2020.

  2. Murphy says:

    The truth of the matter is that clearly McGahn does not trust trump at all — therefore he was happy to speak to Mueller to protect himself from trump and went so far as to have his own attorney to protect him from trump as well as a witness to the conversation. 30 hours is a long time to talk to someone who had “nothing” to say.

    btw, one of my favorite pass times these days to to watch trump’s legal guns help him…hahahahaha!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Murphy, not to get personal but word has it you’ve been peeing your pants since puberty. Anyhow, your president and mine will represent us well going forward. Fear not my friend Murphy, the country will survive – maybe not Tesla – but the country will go on and you will prosper

    • Murphy says:

      See how you are — just like you little friend — just cannot stop yourself from making personal attacks — c’mon, Anon, “BE BEST”

      • Anonymous says:

        Murphy, your right – SORRY, just couldn’t resist. we all wish for our Country to prosper. I just think Pres. Trump deserves more credit than given thus far. You have strong feelings against him and some deserved but I think some not. Best to you and those who differ.

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