Former White House Counsel McGahn Says His Portrayal in the Mueller Report Is “Accurately Described”

 “Don, nonetheless, appreciates that the President gave him the opportunity to serve as White House Counsel.”

White House counsel Donald McGahn listens to Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in September.Melina Mara/AP

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Since the long-anticipated release of the redacted Mueller report on Thursday, President Donald Trump has been relentless in attacking the special counsel. In a series of tweets on Saturday morning, Trump continued to repeat his assertion that the report showed no collusion, completely exonerated him, and declared “The Russia Hoax is dead!”

On Friday, Trump lashed out note-takers, a reference to those his inner circle like McGahn who recorded what happened in his administration and warned on Twitter this week that witnesses could have fabricated notes they used to document conversations with him. Former White House counsel Donald McGahn, who cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into contacts between Trump, his associates, and Russia during the 2016 election, as well as Trump’s efforts to interfere with FBI investigations, has been especially singled out by the President and his aides. Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s attorneys, targeted McGahn’s accounts on Friday, telling the New York Times that McGahn’s words couldn’t be taken at “face value.”

“It could be the product of an inaccurate recollection or could be the product of something else,” Guiliani told the Times.

After two days of no comment from McGahn, his attorney, William A. Burck, pushed back on the credibility attacks. “It’s a mystery why Rudy Giuliani feels the need to re-litigate incidents the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General have concluded were not obstruction,” he said in a statement. “But they are accurately described in the report.”

In Mueller’s report, McGahn had testified that Trump attempted to influence the investigation by urging him to persuade former attorney general Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the probe in late February 2017. Trump also ordered McGahn to tell Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was acting attorney general, to remove Mueller as special counsel.

McGahn, whose notes from incidents aided in the investigation, refused and wanted to resign because, according to Mueller’s report, he didn’t want “to participate in events that he described as akin to the Saturday Night Massacre.” McGahn finally left the administration in October.

“Don, nonetheless, appreciates that the President gave him the opportunity to serve as White House Counsel,” Burck’s statement concluded, “and assist him with his signature accomplishments.”

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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