Why Trump let Don McGahn talk to Mueller

The decision by President Donald Trump's legal team to allow White House counsel Don McGahn to talk to speci...

Posted: Aug 29, 2018 3:55 PM
Updated: Aug 29, 2018 3:55 PM

The decision by President Donald Trump's legal team to allow White House counsel Don McGahn to talk to special counsel Robert Mueller without restrictions was made in part because the lawyers calculated they did not have a good legal standing to prevent it and because it fit with the strategy to be cooperative with the investigation, according to sources who sought to explain McGahn's extensive interviews.

The sources said that even though McGahn has talked to special counsel investigators -- for some 30 hours -- the Trump administration could still seek to prevent details of the testimony from being released publicly by asserting executive privilege on relevant elements of the report.

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McGahn's lawyers believe his cooperation includes any potential grand jury inquiry, a source familiar with the matter said, but it stops there and blocks Congress or any civil litigators from gaining access to the information. That was the White House posture for former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who spoke with Mueller's team but used executive privilege to shield himself from answering certain questions posed by congressional investigators.

McGahn has not been asked to go to the grand jury, according to the same source, but the Trump legal team thinks there would be a resistance.

"There would be a battle over the use of McGahn's information," one source said, explaining that McGahn was allowed to speak with Mueller with privilege remaining in place over the use of the information.

Some legal experts are critical of the legal strategy arguing that the team could have -- at the very least -- tried to limit the scope of Mueller's questions and that by agreeing to waive privilege, without knowing how McGahn might answer some questions, McGahn's interviews will ultimately be beneficial to Mueller.

Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and law professor at the University of Texas, said that by allowing McGahn to talk, it would be hard to argue that he can't talk to the grand jury to discuss the very same information. In other words, McGahn's privilege was waived by talking, according to Vladeck.

Trump's legal team would try to argue that Mueller is part of the executive branch himself and stopping "intra executive" conversation is difficult. But, according to Vladeck, the fact Mueller has subpoena power means he shouldn't be seen that way.

There is some disagreement over how much the Trump team knows about the cooperation. This was part of the wider strategy to be cooperative at the outset with documents and access, in order to argue there was no need to talk to the President. But another source said the decision to fully cooperate was done without looking at all the documents.

According to sources, McGahn attorney William Burck and Trump attorney John Dowd did debriefings so Dowd knew what McGahn said and there's no worry about McGahn going rogue. Additionally, Burck represents multiple people from the White House counsel's office, so the President's legal team believes they have a good handle on whatever narrative came from those testimonies. But according to another source familiar with the matter, McGahn's attorney did not give the President's lawyers a full accounting of what was said to the special counsel and it was not requested.

The Trump legal team's confidence that McGahn didn't provide incriminating information stems in part from the fact McGahn would have faced an ethical requirement to resign his post if he believed a crime had been committed.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 143879

Reported Deaths: 3676
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto956999
Hinds9541193
Harrison6825105
Jackson6068116
Rankin523796
Lee480294
Madison4602102
Forrest367185
Jones344687
Lauderdale3343142
Lafayette313347
Washington3088106
Lamar281849
Bolivar237883
Oktibbeha237760
Lowndes228362
Neshoba2171113
Panola211047
Marshall207247
Leflore200789
Pontotoc193227
Monroe189577
Sunflower189554
Lincoln183964
Warren172157
Tate163349
Union160125
Pike160058
Copiah158840
Yazoo150638
Scott149929
Coahoma147342
Itawamba145533
Alcorn143724
Simpson143553
Pearl River142967
Prentiss139526
Grenada136344
Adams135948
Leake131643
Holmes124461
George121623
Tippah120930
Covington117234
Winston115824
Wayne115722
Hancock114137
Marion110746
Attala106233
Tishomingo106042
Newton102829
Chickasaw102332
Tallahatchie94727
Clarke88253
Clay86726
Jasper81121
Walthall74328
Stone72314
Montgomery71925
Calhoun71213
Carroll70514
Lawrence69914
Noxubee69017
Smith68616
Yalobusha67926
Perry65225
Tunica59519
Greene58422
Claiborne57416
Jefferson Davis54117
Humphreys52518
Amite50814
Benton48217
Quitman4786
Webster41614
Kemper40815
Wilkinson38422
Jefferson34011
Franklin3185
Sharkey30617
Choctaw3057
Issaquena1114
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 234080

Reported Deaths: 3459
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson30620491
Mobile19306358
Tuscaloosa12501148
Madison12410146
Montgomery12040232
Shelby980576
Baldwin826984
Lee753964
Morgan618247
Calhoun5997113
Etowah590564
Marshall581953
Houston507038
DeKalb463535
Cullman412636
Limestone404544
St. Clair398455
Elmore393961
Lauderdale382953
Walker349096
Talladega335942
Colbert296341
Jackson291924
Blount276336
Autauga263439
Franklin244833
Coffee233415
Dale226654
Dallas220231
Russell21803
Chilton216937
Covington212533
Escambia194431
Tallapoosa169290
Chambers168048
Pike155514
Clarke155419
Marion134535
Winston123723
Lawrence122436
Geneva11748
Marengo116924
Barbour116110
Pickens115318
Bibb114217
Butler113741
Randolph99821
Cherokee98924
Hale91631
Washington90018
Clay89423
Fayette84416
Henry8426
Lowndes78729
Monroe76811
Cleburne74414
Crenshaw70330
Macon70020
Bullock69019
Conecuh66814
Perry6686
Lamar6267
Wilcox62418
Sumter55322
Choctaw41713
Greene40217
Coosa3074
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