Don McGahn’s job is done here.
Back in March, reports suggested that White House Counsel Don McGahn would likely step down by the end on the year. At the time, Politico noted that McGahn’s resignation was “contingent on the president finding a replacement and several other factors.”
Well, to the extent that decision had been delayed, it was likely expedited this month after the New York Times detailed some 30 hours of conversations Don had with Robert Mueller. As it turns out, McGahn was initially bemused at the strategy of former Trump attorneys John Dowd and Ty Cobb who advocated for a transparent approach to dealing with the special counsel investigation. 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.
That latter effort (the attempt to fire Mueller) prompted McGahn to threaten resignation on at least one occasion last summer and you’ve got to think it probably came up again late last year when Trump reportedly tried to fire the special counsel again.
On Wednesday, Axios reported that McGahn will step down as soon as Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, or else after the midterms. The initial reporting was confirmed hours later by Trump.
White House Counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his position in the fall, shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018
“That potentially puts a successor in charge of fielding a blizzard of requests or subpoenas for documents and testimony if Democrats win control of the House in the midterms”, Axios writes, citing a previous scoop of theirs which we documented and expanded on in “House Flipping: GOP Quietly Ponders ‘Coming Hell’ After November“. And that’s not even to speak of what would ensue should Mueller end up indicting Trump or if the President fires Jeff Sessions on the way to shutting down the probe.
So whoever McGahn’s successor turns out to be will have their hands full and it looks like McGahn himself is recommending Emmet T. Flood, who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment and who stepped into the fray back in May when Ty Cobb “retired“.
“The reason he can represent both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump is because he thinks these investigators come and basically put a target on their backs, trying to overturn every aspect of their lives searching for a crime”, a source told Axios, for the piece linked above.
Apparently, Trump “listens” to Flood more so than his other attorneys. “Trump reacts to the authority Flood carries as a heavyweight lawyer handling the topic that potentially poses an existential threat to the Trump presidency”, Axios says. Color me skeptical.
The bottom line here is that the Trump administration appears to be preparing for a fight and McGahn has proven he just isn’t the guy you want around when you’re thinking about resorting to potentially dramatic maneuvers in order to undermine Mueller (e.g., firing Jeff Sessions) and head off impeachment.