I’m no big fan of former White House counsel Don McGahn (is anyone?) but the latest breathless reporting about McGahn’s refusal to say that he didn’t think President Trump obstructed justice is a real nothing burger.
Thanks, Wall Street Journal!
There is plenty of reason to think that McGahn is a disloyal Trump underling like so many others in the White House. His behavior time and again is troubling, and the fact that he always seems to construe Trump’s words in the most negative way possible is just a sign that McGahn’s only real client at all times is himself.
Nonetheless, if Trump did ask McGahn to say that it was not obstruction for the president to say that he thought Mueller had a conflict of interest, Trump has nothing to be ashamed of. Barr had already said it wasn’t obstruction, and McGahn had never publicly weighed in, so his viewpoint would be important.
The Wall Street Journal, of course, tries to make it sound nefarious that McGahn chose not to say anything, but their own story provides a completely innocent explanation.
William Burck, a lawyer for Mr. McGahn, said in a statement about the request: “We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister. It was a request, professionally and cordially made.”
Mr. McGahn turned down the request because he didn’t want to weigh in on the totality of evidence in the report beyond his own testimony, and didn’t want to comment on his own testimony in isolation, the people said. Mr. McGahn also didn’t view his personal opinion as relevant, because Attorney General William Barr had already said he didn’t believe the evidence in Mr. Mueller’s report amounted to obstruction of justice, the people said.
The fact that this explanation comes at the end of the story shows that reporter Rebecca Ballhaus was trying to bury the lede. Yes, the president apparently asked McGahn to make a statement, but McGahn declined not because he thought the request was improper but for perfectly innocent reasons he explained.
Ballhaus didn’t want her anti-Trump story ruined by the facts, so she gave the innuendo center stage and kept the innocent explanation off in the shadows.
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