The dawning of a realization that may end up being a costly mistake.
When the news about the New York Times exclusive, White House Counsel, Don McGahn, Has Cooperated Extensively in Mueller Inquiry dropped on Saturday morning detailing the extent of McGahn’s cooperation it is being said it rocked Trump and his lawyers and set them scrambling as the realization dawned on them that none of them actually knew the full extent of what McGahn said to Mueller and his team of investigators, the NYT’s Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt reported on Sunday.
It was the advice of Trump’s former lawyers John Dowd and Ty Cobb last summer to argue for the White House lawyer Don McGahn to fully cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation – including waiving attorney -client privilege – last November because they “believed that the cooperation would help prove that the president had done nothing wrong” and “it would bring a swifter end to the investigation.”
At that time McGahn and his own lawyer, William Burck, couldn’t understand why Trump’s personal lawyers were willing to go to such extraordinary, and practically unheard-of measures, but then confusion turned to concern that Dowd and Cobb were planning on setting up McGahn as a fall-guy for blame of any wrong-doing thanks to Dowd’s and Cobb’s infamous lunch right outside the NYT’s office building in September.
It was then McGahn and Burck who decided they were going to “embrace the opening to cooperate fully with Mr. Mueller in an effort to demonstrate that Mr. McGahn had done nothing wrong.”
While McGahn is said to have given 30 hours of interview to Mueller and his team, Burck “has offered only a limited accounting of what Mr. McGahn told the investigators, according to two people close to the president.”
McGahn has now gone from White House lawyer to key witness and suddenly the debate is reignited among Trump allies about whether it was a mistake or not as to whether it was bad advice to let McGahn fully cooperate with the investigation. Chris Christie weighed in on the matter on ABC New’s “This Week” saying “It’s bad legal advice, bad lawyering, and this is the result,” and former White House chief of staff Steve Bannon saying, “This was a reckless and dangerously naïve strategy.”
According to “people familiar with his thinking” Trump ‘was rattled by the Times report” and “jolted by the notion that he did not know what Mr. Gahn had shared.”
On Sunday morning Trump took to his phone and responded via Twitter to the NYT’s article.