In short, Trump’s legal advisers do not believe that obstruction-related inquiries can legally endanger the president. It’s no surprise, then, that McGahn would speak with Mueller’s team about the events that lie behind a potential obstruction charge. The bigger mystery is whether he spoke to the special counsel about matters beyond obstruction—specifically, about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the actual focus of Mueller’s probe. Unfortunately, the Times report is maddeningly vague on this topic, stating only that “it is not clear” if Mueller asked McGahn about Russian collusion.
As Marcy Wheeler pointed out on Saturday, this single passage is the most telling in the whole article. There are, Wheeler noted, at least three ways in which Russian collusion might have involved campaign-finance violations. McGahn, a former FEC commissioner, is a campaign-finance expert, and he served as Trump’s campaign counsel through the 2016 election. In that capacity, he was presumably involved in the campaign’s hiring of British Cambridge Analytica employees, a move that raised the possibility of improper foreign contributions. McGahn may have been aware of the infamous meeting between a Russian lawyer and Trump campaign officials to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, running afoul of campaign-finance rules. And McGahn may have failed to wall off Roger Stone from the campaign as Stone allegedly bypassed election laws to seek more dirt on Clinton from foreigners. (Mueller is keenly interested in Stone’s work for the campaign.)