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Star Lawyering Protected President Trump from Firing Robert Mueller

April 19, 2019 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

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Ilya Shapiro

Don McGahn is one of the few people who came out looking better
after the Robert Mueller report than going in. The former White
House counsel, who stepped down in October, saved President Donald
Trump from his worst instincts, displaying a legal savvy and high
ethical standard that served both the president and the country
well.

Indeed, by preventing Trump from firing Special Counsel Robert
Mueller, McGahn prevented a political crisis—not to be
confused with a constitutional one—that would’ve made the
Russia-collusion narrative seem like a jaywalking allegation. When
you add that to his execution of a laser-focused strategy on
judicial nominations—including two Supreme Court justices and
a record number of circuit judges—McGahn is the early leader
for MVP of the Trump administration. (Full disclosure: I worked
with McGahn at Patton Boggs more than a decade ago, and we have
remained on friendly terms.)

Mueller’s report concluded that McGahn was a
“credible witness with no motive to lie.” From the 30
hours the White House lawyer spent talking to the special counsel
and his team, we learn many of the some of the most portentous
developments of the seemingly interminable investigation.

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Almost immediately after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein
appointed Mueller in May 2017—after Attorney General Jeff
Sessions recused from Russia-related investigations, a necessary
move given his campaign involvements but one the president never
forgave—Trump wanted to dismiss him. McGahn warned that
taking this action would look like an attempt to “meddle in
the investigation.”

The president didn’t let it go, calling McGahn at home
over the course of a June weekend to push him again to tell
Rosenstein to sack Mueller. Here’s what Mueller’s
report says about that fraught moment: “McGahn did not carry
out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather
than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night
Massacre.” McGahn later told White House Staff Secretary Rob
Porter that he had planned to resign rather than follow through on
the order.

When the president later learned McGahn had told Mueller about
the episode, he questioned his counsel’s judgment. McGahn
explained that “he had to” answer truthfully because
there was no attorney-client privilege. The …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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