President weighs-in on McGahn testimony

Pauline Gross
August 19, 2018

While McGahn says he never saw Trump go beyond his legal authorities, The New York Times says he gave investigators a mix of information both "damaging and favorable" to the president.

The Times reported that McGahn and his attorney were anxious that Trump was setting him up to take the blame for any possible illegal acts of obstruction, so they sought to cooperate as fully as possible with Mueller's probe. "Most transparent in history".

President Donald Trump tweeted at length on Saturday and Sunday in response to a New York Times report that White House counsel Don McGahn had cooperated "extensively" with special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, sitting for at least 30 hours of discussions over three voluntary interviews.

"It puts us in a strong position to say they don't need to question him", he said, referring to previous witness testimonies and a slew of documents turned over for the special counsel's probe. "So he and Mr. Burck devised their own strategy to do as much as possible to cooperate with Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that Mr. McGahn did nothing wrong". Mr. Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani told CBS News' Major Garrett earlier this month that he's "more optimistic" that a potential interview between the president and Mueller might occur, putting the odds of that taking place at "50-50". He stated that he "allowed" McGahn and "all others" to testify, and that he "didn't have to".

Trump appeared to object to the Times' reporting that he may not know the true extent of McGahn's cooperation, and to the Times' reporting that McGahn "told people he was determined to avoid the fate of the White House counsel for President Richard M. Nixon, John W. Dean, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice in the Watergate scandal".

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He continued: "Some members of the media are very Angry at the Fake Story in the New York Times".

Donald McGahn, the White House counsel, has given lengthy statements to Mueller's team.

Giuliani said during "Meet the Press" that Trump didn't raise executive privilege or attorney-client privilege during those interviews because his team believed - he says now, wrongly - that fully participating would be the fastest way to bring the investigation to a close. He provided "detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice", including providing information that the Mueller team otherwise would not have learned about, the Times reported, citing a dozen current and former White House officials and other individuals briefed on the matter. "However, he didn't think I would tell them the truth!"

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