BREAKING NEWS Finally Feeling Like Fall Full Story

McGahn to leave job as White House counsel

President Donald Trump said in a tweet that Don McGahn will leave his job as White House counsel this fall following Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Posted: Aug 29, 2018 10:56 PM
Updated: Aug 29, 2018 10:56 PM

The official spin around the news -- confirmed by President Donald Trump -- that White House counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his post this fall goes something like this: We always expected Don to serve through the first two years of the administration. This is a very stressful job, and Don always said he wouldn't and couldn't stay in the role for the entire first term.

Which is, in part, true. Being the lead attorney in any White House is stressful. Being the lead attorney in the Trump White House is roughly equivalent to my stress level when one of my kids is the first performer at a piano recital.

But, but, but. Context matters -- HUGELY -- here.

And the context is this: We learned 11 days ago that McGahn had sat for interviews with special counsel Robert Mueller's team for more than 30 hours in the course of the investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election. We also learned that Trump himself was unaware that McGahn had spent so much time with Mueller's team, and that the White House more broadly was unaware of what exactly McGahn had told Mueller.

That news "unnerved" Trump, according to CNN reporting. This paragraph, from CNN's report on Trump's reaction to the McGahn news, is prescient and telling:

"The meetings only add complications to the already-fraught relationship between the President and the White House's top lawyer. And as nervous aides await a verdict in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's trial and watch with trepidation the inauspicious public relations blitz carried by lead attorney Rudy Giuliani, uncertainty surrounding the President's handling of the Russia investigation abounds."

While trying to downplay the news, Trump made clear that it irked him. "The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type 'RAT,'" Trump tweeted. "But I allowed him and all others to testify - I didn't have to. I have nothing to hide."

When asked Wednesday whether he was worried about what McGahn told the special counsel, Trump said, "No."

"We do everything straight, we do everything by the book, and Don is an excellent guy," the President said.

Step back even beyond this month -- and think about the role McGahn has played in this White House. According to The New York Times, Trump tried to force McGahn to fire Mueller as special counsel last summer but ultimately backed down when McGahn refused to carry out the order. Trump also ordered McGahn to tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself in the Russia investigation, according to the Times. (Sessions recused himself anyway.) And McGahn was the person that then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates sought out to inform him that Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn was lying about the nature of his contact with Russian officials -- and likely misled Vice President Mike Pence on that matter. (Trump fired Flynn for lying to Pence.)

So. What we know is that a man intimately involved in several of the most high-profile moments in the first 18 months of the Trump White House (and who was a legal adviser to Trump's campaign) is now leaving -- news that broke less than two weeks after the President was caught by surprise by McGahn's level of cooperation with the special counsel.

Or, let's make it even simpler: The man who single-handedly kept Donald Trump from firing Mueller is now leaving the White House, 11 days after the extent of his cooperation with that same special counsel was made public.

There is no such thing as coincidences that big in American politics. Just doesn't happen. McGahn -- and Trump -- knew exactly the sort of signal the announcement that McGahn was leaving would create. The reaction of Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to the news sums up that sentiment nicely: "I hope it's not true McGahn is leaving White House Counsel," Grassley tweeted at Trump. "U can't let that happen."

(It's worth noting that Trump didn't announce the news on Twitter because he wanted to. He did so because Axios reported the news of McGahn's imminent departure early Wednesday morning.)

If McGahn's departure had nothing to do with the ongoing legal and political swirl created by the Mueller probe, he could have easily delayed his departure into the private sector for a few more months -- maybe lasting until after the Mueller report was released. He isn't. That's telling.

Make no mistake: None of this is "going according to plan" for the Trump administration. McGahn's departure takes an already difficult situation for this White House and this President and makes it that much tougher. No spin can change that basic fact.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 813481

Reported Deaths: 15179
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1139971910
Mobile722271323
Madison51970686
Shelby37279341
Baldwin37069540
Tuscaloosa34934599
Montgomery33953725
Lee23142240
Calhoun22142470
Morgan20639372
Etowah19758496
Marshall18245300
Houston17302405
St. Clair15912337
Cullman15306290
Limestone15202198
Elmore15075284
Lauderdale14143294
Talladega13715272
DeKalb12569259
Walker11085366
Blount10094174
Autauga9893146
Jackson9789180
Coffee9182189
Dale8859181
Colbert8789200
Tallapoosa7044195
Escambia6732127
Covington6682179
Chilton6587160
Russell625958
Franklin5930105
Chambers5559142
Marion4955126
Dallas4882199
Clarke472782
Pike4719105
Geneva4564126
Winston4473101
Lawrence4264117
Bibb421686
Barbour355475
Marengo334089
Monroe330262
Randolph327063
Butler324794
Pickens313882
Henry310965
Hale309187
Cherokee299957
Fayette290679
Washington250951
Cleburne246958
Crenshaw243575
Clay240367
Macon230562
Lamar215846
Conecuh185652
Coosa178538
Lowndes173761
Wilcox167438
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131038
Greene125544
Choctaw86927
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A cold front passing through our area overnight will bring into our area some of the coolest temperatures of the season so far. We will see most of the highs this weekend only in the upper 60s to lower 70s. While overnight lows will drop off down into the 40s Saturday night.
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