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Trump responds to McGahn White House departure

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

Posted: Aug 30, 2018 11:03 AM
Updated: Aug 30, 2018 11:03 AM

Six months ago, President Donald Trump told a crowd of reporters he was nearing a point "where we're getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want."

Now, with his alienated White House lawyer heading for the exits and amid signals his estranged attorney general will follow, Trump looks to be inching closer to his preferred state.

The upcoming departure of White House counsel Don McGahn, which Trump announced without fanfare on Twitter, will deprive the West Wing of a rare official who has defied a President known to prefer pliant aides. In one instance, McGahn refused Trump's order to instruct the Justice Department to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Instead, McGahn threatened to quit.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has similarly flouted Trump's demands to un-recuse himself from Russia-related matters. In recent days, Trump has dialed up his insults. Lawmakers who used to voice support for their former colleague now say it's likely Sessions is gone by winter.

For a President consumed with loyalty, the departures signal a cull of those with whom he's clashed. But it's not clear whether their replacements will be any more willing to cede to Trump's demands.

The replacement

Emmet Flood, a Russia-focused White House lawyer now considered a likely replacement for McGahn, hasn't indicated in public that he would be any more willing to help Trump short-circuit the Mueller probe than McGahn was. He has acted as an authoritative voice in the West Wing on the investigation, people familiar with the matter say, borne from his experience in President Bill Clinton's White House.

And while Flood would be a valued player in the event Democrats move to impeach Trump, he lacks McGahn's conservative credo and likely would not pursue Trump's conservative deregulatory agenda with the same zeal that has earned McGahn plaudits on the right.

Asked by reporters Wednesday about McGahn's departure, Trump called his lawyer a "good man, very good man."

"A lot of affection for Don," Trump said from the Roosevelt Room, adding that McGahn will "probably" be moving on to the private sector and "he's done an excellent job."

He downplayed the more than 30 hours McGahn spent speaking with investigators in the special counsel's office, stressed the sit-downs only came after his approval.

"I knew he was going," Trump said, despite reports that suggested the President's legal team wasn't fully aware of the contents of McGahn's discussions. "We do everything by the book and Don is an excellent guy."

Departure by tweet?

Trump's tweet announcing McGahn's departure highlighted the highly atypical relationships Trump maintains with several top officials in his administration.

McGahn was quietly planning his White House exit once Kavanaugh's confirmation is secured, but he was caught off guard by Trump's announcement on Twitter of his impending departure. Reading reports of McGahn's plans to exit, it was as if Trump felt a need to spoil his top White House lawyer's own resignation.

Sessions, meanwhile, has repeatedly found himself in the presidential crosshairs, with Trump frequently taking to his favorite social media platform to belittle and chastise one of the most prominent members of his Cabinet.

Before Sessions, it was the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson whom Trump undermined. Like McGahn, Tillerson's exit -- a firing in his case -- was also announced by tweet.

While every one of Trump's predecessors have had disagreements with members of their Cabinet and senior staff, Trump is the first President in modern history to make a habit of publicly undercutting and criticizing those officials.

Trump's tweet on Wednesday was not the first sign of the President's highly unusual relationship with his White House counsel, a position that demands frequent interaction with the President and oversight over the most sensitive matters that hit the President's desk.

Trump and McGahn have carried out a tortured partnership for more than a year, people familiar with the dynamic say. According to officials, Trump has at times seemed unclear on McGahn's role -- which is not as his personal lawyer, but as a lawyer for the White House and the presidency.

While McGahn -- one of the earliest members of Trump's campaign staff -- was once a trusted force in the President's inner circle, their relationship never mended after McGahn failed to convince Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. And it only worsened after McGahn refused Trump's directive to fire the special counsel.

In recent months, one-on-one interactions between the two men have all but evaporated, with the two men almost exclusively meeting during group meetings or when White House chief of staff John Kelly is in the room.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 259117

Reported Deaths: 5668
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17331186
Hinds16373328
Harrison13731199
Rankin10854217
Jackson10557187
Lee8922141
Madison8335166
Jones6483112
Forrest6038120
Lauderdale5965187
Lowndes5425118
Lafayette503193
Lamar490865
Washington4826124
Bolivar4024109
Oktibbeha397681
Panola374680
Pontotoc369855
Monroe3591105
Warren3569100
Union348063
Marshall347769
Neshoba3413152
Pearl River3329103
Leflore3059107
Lincoln299386
Sunflower288271
Hancock282559
Tate274362
Alcorn267454
Itawamba265260
Pike264679
Scott250847
Prentiss248252
Yazoo247356
Tippah244450
Copiah243949
Coahoma242254
Simpson238368
Leake232966
Grenada220671
Covington215072
Marion215073
Adams207870
Wayne203232
Winston202667
George201939
Newton195044
Attala194659
Tishomingo191661
Chickasaw185744
Jasper174438
Holmes169168
Clay161335
Tallahatchie148235
Stone145921
Clarke141762
Calhoun137621
Smith122725
Yalobusha119134
Walthall112836
Noxubee111423
Greene111029
Montgomery110136
Carroll105321
Lawrence103217
Perry102831
Amite98826
Webster93924
Tunica87421
Claiborne86625
Jefferson Davis85827
Benton83323
Humphreys83324
Kemper78420
Quitman6969
Franklin67115
Choctaw61213
Wilkinson58825
Jefferson55419
Sharkey44017
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 429655

Reported Deaths: 6283
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63040956
Mobile30794557
Madison27486201
Tuscaloosa20996268
Montgomery19352315
Shelby18833120
Baldwin16653184
Lee12749102
Morgan12389119
Etowah11861176
Calhoun11292201
Marshall10290113
Houston8746156
Limestone813276
Cullman8125106
Elmore7999104
DeKalb776599
Lauderdale768698
St. Clair7651121
Talladega6309108
Walker5954174
Jackson586341
Colbert539873
Blount537683
Autauga525755
Coffee450456
Dale402981
Franklin369948
Russell340711
Chilton338966
Covington332668
Escambia326043
Dallas308896
Chambers293170
Clarke287833
Tallapoosa2641107
Pike255230
Marion248953
Lawrence246649
Winston229535
Bibb218847
Geneva205446
Marengo202829
Pickens197531
Hale179542
Barbour176036
Fayette172928
Butler170858
Cherokee161930
Henry156523
Monroe149818
Randolph142135
Washington139126
Clay127645
Crenshaw121544
Cleburne119023
Lamar119021
Macon118637
Lowndes112036
Wilcox105121
Bullock101128
Perry99019
Conecuh95720
Sumter89626
Greene76623
Coosa61015
Choctaw51624
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