McGahn: The next John Dean?
President Trump faces increasingly “serious threats” from his own lawyers, said David Graham in TheAtlantic.com. His former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is cooperating with prosecutors, and The New York Times this week revealed that White House counsel Donald McGahn has cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Concerned that Trump might be “setting him up as a fall guy,” McGahn spoke to Mueller’s team for at least 30 hours. While it’s unclear whether McGahn divulged anything incriminating about Trump, he has “firsthand knowledge of multiple pivotal incidents under Mueller’s scrutiny,” namely Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and his two attempts to fire Mueller. Those actions are all part of Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation. So McGahn poses a real danger to his own client.
“Nonsense,” said Andrew McCarthy in NationalReview.com. On the advice of his previous private legal team—John Dowd and Ty Cobb—Trump took the “extraordinary” step of waiving executive privilege by allowing McGahn to speak with the FBI. Trump believed full cooperation would bring the investigation to a quicker close, regardless of what McGahn said. That’s not what you’d expect were he “leading a cover-up,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Trump’s legal team cooperated with Mueller for months, “turning over tens of thousands of documents.” The Times story suggested that McGahn is “undermining” Trump, but the president may be telling the truth when he says, “I have nothing to hide.”
If Trump wanted to signal his innocence, said Chas Danner in NYMag.com, it’s rather odd to start “siding with Richard Nixon on Watergate.” In an “extended Twitter tirade” after news of McGahn’s cooperation broke, Trump called John Dean, the White House counsel who testified against Nixon, a “RAT”—the same term mobsters use for informants. Apparently Trump thinks Dean “should have kept his mouth shut,” allowing a president who “broke the law and tried to obstruct justice” to hide the truth and stay in office. Even if McGahn didn’t intend “to put his boss in legal jeopardy,” said Abigail Tracy in VanityFair.com, he may have provided critical details for Mueller’s report that could “bolster the case for impeachment.” McGahn might “play Trump’s John Dean” after all.