Don McGahn to leave job as White House counsel, Trump says
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Don McGahn will leave his job as White House counsel this fall following Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
“White House Counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his position in the fall, shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!” Trump tweeted.
McGahn’s departure will close the book on a tumultous relationship that has been both a boon for Trump’s agenda and a test of the limits of Trump’s executive authority. McGahn has been the key architect of Trump’s successful efforts to reshape the federal courts — sealing a lasting part of Trump’s conservative legacy — but he has also repeatedly clashed with the President over his attempts to interfere in the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian interference and any collusion with the Trump campaign.
That strained relationship once again resurfaced earlier this month with the disclosure that McGahn has cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, participating in several interviews spanning 30 hours over the last nine months. The conversations unnerved Trump, who didn’t know the full extent of McGahn’s discussions, two people familiar with his thinking said.
Trump’s announcement comes as Mueller’s investigation continues to consume much of the President’s focus amid questions of potential obstruction of justice into the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
But McGahn’s departure was anticipated before the disclosure of his extensive cooperation with Mueller’s team. Earlier this month, sources close to the White House said McGahn was likely to leave his White House post after Kavanaugh’s confirmation — with McGahn hoping to first notch a second successful Supreme Court nomination.
Emmet Flood, who now directs the Russia legal strategy from inside the White House, is a potential replacement, CNN reported last week. McGahn fought to bring Flood onto the team and likes him very much, a source close to the White House said.
The news of McGahn’s eventual departure comes amid the advancement of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, which is set to start in less than a week and last three or four days, according to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley.