The Slatest

Donald Trump to Former White House Counsel Don McGahn: Actually, My Legal Trouble Is Your Fault

Don McGahn sitting behind President Trump at a conference table
White House counsel Don McGahn at a Cabinet meeting with President Donald Trump in the White House on Oct. 17. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House counsel Don McGahn led the confirmations of two conservative Supreme Court justices, numerous lower-court justices, and helped oversee a winnowing away of the regulatory state in his less than two years in the notoriously grueling job. One might think that the president celebrated his last day by giving a valedictory speech to the staff or even an “attaboy” with a awkward-but-affectionate handshake.


In McGahn’s final meeting with Trump before leaving the White House two weeks ago, CNN reports, the president “blamed him for Robert Mueller’s appointment” and “groused to McGahn about Mueller’s appointment made on McGahn’s watch as White House counsel, and the cloud the investigation has continued to cast over the presidency.”


Trump getting very mad at some of his closest and most loyal advisers and staffers about the Mueller investigation is, of course, not limited to his former White House counsel. He regularly mocks Attorney General Jeff Sessions in public and private for recusing himself from the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

Trump announced McGahn’s departure in August without McGahn knowing in advance that the president would do so. The announcement came after the New York Times reported that McGahn had been a rather fulsome cooperator with Robert Mueller’s investigators because he and his lawyer were convinced that Trump would try to pin any obstruction of justice on him.

Before that, according to CNN and other reports, McGahn had refused to fire Robert Mueller after the president asked him to, and had threatened to resign if forced to do so.