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.

Continents and regions

Don McGahn

Donald Trump

Eastern Europe

Europe

Government and public administration

Investigations

Political Figures - US

Politics

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Criminal law

Government bodies and offices

Grand jury

Law and legal system

Legal services

Robert Mueller

US federal government

White House

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.

Huntsville/Redstone
Mostly Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 55°
Muscle Shoals
Partly Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 57°
Huntsville/Madison
Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 56°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 52°
Fort Payne
Cloudy
44° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 44°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 488973

Reported Deaths: 9660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson703321342
Mobile35725716
Madison32088437
Tuscaloosa23913404
Montgomery22369481
Shelby21714209
Baldwin19554263
Lee14827147
Morgan13529243
Etowah13091309
Calhoun13063281
Marshall11197202
Houston10019255
Limestone9303130
Elmore9283179
Cullman8856176
St. Clair8747214
Lauderdale8541209
DeKalb8419173
Talladega7424161
Walker6466240
Jackson6450101
Autauga614384
Blount6058125
Colbert5973118
Coffee522299
Dale4606106
Russell400530
Franklin396575
Covington3918105
Chilton380096
Escambia375970
Tallapoosa3533138
Clarke342348
Dallas3385139
Chambers3382102
Pike292471
Lawrence280685
Marion277492
Winston244563
Marengo243454
Bibb243259
Geneva238168
Pickens223453
Barbour208450
Hale208064
Fayette198755
Butler194865
Henry181741
Cherokee175737
Monroe165538
Randolph161240
Washington155832
Crenshaw143052
Clay142554
Macon140344
Cleburne136139
Lamar130632
Lowndes130148
Wilcox120525
Bullock116033
Conecuh106423
Perry104927
Sumter98231
Greene86732
Coosa86323
Choctaw54723
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 767315

Reported Deaths: 11198
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby863831451
Davidson80598835
Knox45139569
Hamilton39899450
Rutherford37781371
Williamson24944202
Sumner21120312
Montgomery17171207
Out of TN1659390
Wilson16157208
Unassigned15617126
Sullivan14142273
Blount13905176
Bradley12699137
Washington12659231
Maury12124158
Sevier11870160
Putnam10525167
Madison10030225
Robertson8866117
Hamblen7936160
Anderson7874155
Greene7251144
Tipton688699
Coffee6254114
Gibson6166140
Dickson6118103
Cumberland6070117
Carter5922152
McMinn585589
Roane579995
Bedford5744117
Loudon561464
Jefferson5569116
Lawrence554080
Warren529475
Monroe524988
Dyer5221100
Hawkins517092
Franklin469983
Fayette463571
Obion435694
Rhea411272
Lincoln409861
Cocke395691
Marshall387754
Cheatham385143
Campbell377458
Weakley377459
Giles370495
Henderson360673
Carroll346580
Hardeman337563
Macon334873
White333765
Hardin329562
Lauderdale308842
Henry298274
Marion289144
Wayne286330
Scott284842
Overton283257
Claiborne271665
Haywood264159
McNairy264151
Hickman262339
DeKalb261547
Smith252236
Grainger240446
Trousdale237722
Fentress228244
Morgan228236
Johnson214337
Chester200446
Bledsoe197910
Crockett196746
Unicoi179047
Cannon173528
Polk173221
Union168030
Lake167326
Grundy165730
Sequatchie153627
Decatur153135
Humphreys151121
Benton149939
Lewis145724
Meigs125420
Jackson124633
Stewart123024
Clay106030
Perry102327
Houston102030
Moore93616
Van Buren79120
Pickett74623
Hancock49212

Community Events