If you’re confused by all these Washington lawyers talking about Russiagate and the special prosecutor, each with their own client, each with his own agenda and strategy to fog and distract and protect in this high-priced, late-summer legal dancefest, then you’re not alone.
So, get out your lawyer scorecard, we have an update:
You’ve probably heard of Don McGahn. He’s the White House attorney, as opposed to President Trump’s personal attorney. Now, McGahn has his own attorney because apparently he feared Trump was going to sell him out to special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
So, McGahn talked fully and openly with Mueller’s team. For about 30 hours over several months, it’s been reported. That’s not an idle chat.
After the first interview last November, McGahn’s attorney, William Burck, gave Trump’s attorneys a brief, detail-light summary of what his client had said to investigating attorneys. Trump’s attorneys, including Rudy Giuliani, assumed McGahn would do Trump no damage.
So, they did not press for more. Not even when it became clear that McGahn was talking and talking and talking and talking some more to those attorneys the president calls witch-hunters.
Now, according to the NY Times, Trump’s attorneys have become worried about what all White House attorney McGahn told the special prosecutor’s attorneys. Apparently Trump’s attorneys did not realize until a Saturday Times story the duration of McGahn’s full cooperation with the Mueller attorneys. Nor do they know in any detail what he said during those 30 long hours.
McGahn has made it clear previously that his job is to protect the presidency, not the president, which reportedly has set off the worry alarm for Trump, who is not an attorney but employs many of them.
On TV Sunday, Giuliani admitted that his knowledge of McGahn’s testimony came second-hand from John Dowd, a former Trump attorney. Are you following?
“I’ll use his words rather than mine,” Giuliani told NBC, “that McGahn was a strong witness for the president. So, I don’t need to know much more about that.”
Some outside attorneys suggested to the newspaper that Trump’s attorneys may have been careless in not pursuing detailed accounts of White House attorney McGahn’s answers to Justice attorneys so they could anticipate their questions for Trump.
This has reignited an old internal attorney debate over whether Trump’s team of attorneys should have cooperated fully with Mueller’s attorneys, as attorney Dowd and another former Trump attorney Ty Cobb successfully argued at first to show the president had nothing to hide. Or taken the more cautious circumscribed, even antagonistic approach favored by Giuliani, who is not yet a former Trump attorney.
“It’s bad legal advice, bad lawyering, and this is a result of it,” said Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor and Trump supporter. Christie is also an attorney.