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Who is Donald McGahn?

President Donald Trump called for special counsel Robert Mueller's firing last June, according to one person familiar...

Posted: Jan 26, 2018 10:46 AM
Updated: Jan 26, 2018 10:46 AM

President Donald Trump called for special counsel Robert Mueller's firing last June, according to one person familiar with the matter.

But the President never went through with the order because White House counsel Donald McGahn threatened to quit instead of carrying out the order, the source said.

McGahn conducted "exhaustive and extensive questioning of Flynn," according to Sean Spicer

Prior to serving as White House counsel, McGahn was a partner at Jones Day

The New York Times first reported the incident Thursday evening, citing four people told of the matter.

Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 -- amid the bureau's investigation into ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia -- redirected the focus of ethical and legal scrutiny squarely on the White House.

Amid accusations of "Nixonian" behavior and as members of Congress in both parties raise questions about Trump's actions, one major player is likely to find himself at the center of the White House's efforts to stave off those accusations and remain on firm legal ground: McGahn, the White House counsel.

But McGahn, who previously served as the Trump campaign's top attorney, had already found himself the subject of scrutiny, after former acting Attorney General Sally Yates' congressional testimony raised fresh questions about McGahn's role in the saga involving former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn quit after news reports revealed that Yates had warned McGahn in late January 2017 that Flynn had misled White House officials about details of his conversations with the Kremlin's US ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Yates explained that she met with McGahn in person on January 26, 2017, to tell him that she had information that statements by Vice President Mike Pence, based on his conversations with Flynn, were false, and Flynn was susceptible of being "essentially blackmailed by the Russians."

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters in February that Yates merely wanted to give McGahn a "heads up" and that McGahn "informed the President immediately."

McGahn conducted "exhaustive and extensive questioning of Flynn," according to Spicer, and McGahn concluded that Flynn had not violated the law.

Yates' testimony immediately renewed questions about McGahn's handling of the situation: What exactly did he do with the information; did he ever sift through the evidence the Justice Department offered to show him to support the conclusion that Flynn had been compromised; who else was told of Yates' warning and when, and finally, what deliberation took place that ultimately allowed Flynn to keep his job for 18 days after Yates' revelation?

CNN reported in December that McGahn told Trump in January 2017 he believed Flynn had misled the FBI, lied to Pence and should be fired, according to a source familiar with the matter.

McGahn later tried to dissuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the investigation into any coordination between Russian meddling in the 2016 election and Trump campaign associates, according to a source close to Sessions.

Finally, late last year McGahn was interviewed in special counsel Mueller's probe.

A former campaign finance lawyer by trade, McGahn now continues finds himself in the midst of a multiple political firestorms, with a client that blasts out tweets on the very hot-button topics McGahn has been tapped to manage.

To say that McGahn has his work cut out of him is, therefore, an understatement.

Election litigator-turned-chief White House lawyer

Prior to working at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, McGahn was a partner specializing in campaign finance at Jones Day in Washington, general counsel for Trump's campaign, in-house counsel for the National Republican Congressional Committee for years and former commissioner for the Federal Election Commission from 2008-2013.

"He rewrote virtually all of the FEC's procedures for audits, enforcement matters and advisory opinions, which provide for an unprecedented amount of due process," according to a statement from Jones Day announcing his departure from the firm.

More than simply an aggressive litigator, he also has been known to have a flair for the dramatic at times. Once while at the FEC, he tore pages of regulations out of book at a public hearing to drive home his point during a rant against his Democratic colleagues.

And unlike many of his straitlaced former colleagues who display diplomas from their Ivy League law schools on their walls, McGahn went to Pennsylvania's Widener University, used to keep his hair relatively long and played in an '80s cover band, according to a Washington Post profile.

"Don has a brilliant legal mind, excellent character and a deep understanding of constitutional law," Trump said in a statement announcing his appointment as White House counsel back in November 2016. "He will play a critical role in our administration, and I am grateful that he is willing to serve our country at such a high-level capacity."

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect McGahn was a former commissioner for the FEC from 2008-2013.

This story was originally published in February 2017 and has been updated to reflect new reporting on McGahn.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 110592

Reported Deaths: 3171
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7731171
DeSoto655177
Harrison478481
Jackson429178
Rankin380086
Madison371092
Lee339279
Forrest292777
Jones281682
Washington250697
Lafayette241342
Lauderdale2329130
Lamar212038
Bolivar197775
Oktibbeha194154
Neshoba1795111
Lowndes173662
Panola164736
Leflore158786
Sunflower156749
Warren151854
Monroe143672
Pontotoc143019
Pike135555
Lincoln133954
Copiah133336
Marshall130026
Coahoma122836
Scott122729
Grenada119637
Simpson117648
Yazoo116933
Union113825
Holmes113060
Tate112339
Leake111839
Itawamba108724
Pearl River107456
Adams104042
Prentiss100919
Wayne97921
Alcorn94412
George93217
Marion92642
Covington90825
Tippah84820
Newton84227
Chickasaw81724
Tallahatchie81725
Winston81421
Tishomingo78640
Hancock76527
Attala76325
Clarke70948
Clay66621
Jasper66016
Walthall63427
Calhoun60912
Noxubee59516
Smith57716
Claiborne53016
Montgomery52723
Tunica51817
Lawrence48914
Yalobusha47914
Perry47522
Carroll45812
Greene44717
Stone44614
Amite41513
Quitman4096
Humphreys39916
Jefferson Davis39311
Webster36313
Wilkinson32920
Kemper31615
Benton3004
Sharkey27714
Jefferson26210
Franklin2283
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 152272

Reported Deaths: 2621
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22300372
Mobile14273314
Tuscaloosa9886132
Montgomery9615196
Madison895192
Shelby700260
Lee643066
Baldwin636967
Marshall425348
Calhoun408459
Etowah399149
Morgan393232
Houston362332
DeKalb313326
Elmore308152
St. Clair276742
Limestone268327
Walker264192
Talladega253634
Cullman223923
Lauderdale204340
Autauga198928
Franklin198131
Jackson197914
Russell18993
Colbert188927
Dallas184527
Blount182723
Chilton178731
Escambia170328
Covington164429
Coffee16299
Dale161551
Pike130112
Tallapoosa126986
Chambers126643
Clarke126116
Marion103929
Butler99640
Barbour9819
Marengo96421
Winston88613
Geneva8297
Pickens79317
Randolph79314
Lawrence78830
Bibb78513
Hale73729
Cherokee71414
Clay70312
Lowndes69827
Bullock63417
Henry6286
Monroe6259
Washington62012
Crenshaw58830
Perry5796
Conecuh55413
Wilcox55412
Fayette54012
Macon52819
Cleburne5207
Sumter46421
Lamar4555
Choctaw38612
Greene33316
Coosa1963
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