President Trump’s former attorney says White House counsel Donald McGahn didn’t implicate the president in any wrongdoing when he sat down for extensive interviews with the special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
John Dowd told The Washington Times that as part of overall legal strategy Mr. Trump agreed to make Mr. McGahn available last year, “whenever they wanted him and schedules permitted just like other 37 witnesses.”
Mr. Dowd called Mr. McGahn a “terrific witness.” He quoted Mr. Mueller as telling him that no one lied and no documents were withheld.
“It’s worked out fine because now Mueller is empty,” Mr. Dowd said. “We’ve answered all his questions. … And he’s said the president has no exposure.”
The “37 witnesses” was a reference to Mr. Dowd’s and former attorney Ty Cobb’s legal strategy of providing thousands of pages of documents, as well as wide access to White House staff, including Mr. McGahn.
A New York Times story on Saturday implied Mr. McGahn had turned on the president.
“Pure fiction on claims of push back by McGahn,” Mr. Dowd told The Washington Times. “Don McGahn was a terrific witness for the president. I debriefed him.”
Mr. Dowd explained his strategy:
“We had set the plan for anyone to testify and the only issue was executive privilege and attorney/client privilege and we decided it was smarter to be transparent and get the case over with. We made available 37 witnesses and a million documents. In terms of McGahn, he’s right at the heart of the case and the had a lot to cover with him and a lot of notes. It was all routine and very normal. The anonymous sources that criticize us for our strategy don’t realize that the alternative was a nightmare, just a war.
“There’s no way that Don McGahn was not going to testify. And we didn’t want him subpoenaed before a grand jury. We didn’t want to litigate it because it’s a loser. He doesn’t have an attorney client privilege with the president. And executive privilege would probably not survive a grand jury test.
“On executive privilege, Ty did a great thing. He let Bob [Mueller] see everything because he’s part of the executive but if he ever wants to use it he has to come back to the White House and get permission to use it.
“What we were trying to do was expedite the flow of factual information mainly out of respect for the process. You can’ forget the president is the chief law enforcement officer. So when the department of justice decides to do something, it’s better to support it and honor it. And it’s worked out fine because now Mueller is empty. We’ve answered all his questions. He’s satisfied with the documents. He satisfied with the testimony. And he’s said the president has no exposure. Its just a lot of people trying to gin this up when it doesn’t make any sense.”
Mr. Mueller’s office has been seeking an interview with Mr. Trump. His current attorney, Rudy Giuliani, says its is not necessary. Mr. Mueller has notified his legal team he is not a “target,” meaning they haven’t accumulated evidence that he committed a crime. The notification would seem to dampen speculation that Mr. McGahn provided incrimination information.
Mr. Mueller’s major issue regarding Mr. Trump is whether the president in some way obstructed justice into the prosecutor’s probe of any Trump-Russia collusion to interfere in the 2106 election.
This includes the May 2017 firing of FBI Director James Comey and whether the president asked Mr. Comey to end his investigation into retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former White House national security adviser.
“No president in history has been more cooperative or transparent with special counsel,” Mr. Dowd told The Washington Times in March.
He said thousand of pages of emails and memos were hand-delivered to Mr. Mueller.
“These documents have been voluntarily provided by the president to the special counsel and the congressional committees and include privilege material of all kinds,” Trump’s lawyers said in a scorecard obtained by The Washington Times. “The cooperation and transparency are unprecedented.”
The score card says the campaign also provided 1.4 million pages of documents, including search terms and a comprehensive log.