White House counsel Don McGahn "cooperated extensively" with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, according to a New York Times report on Saturday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 19 (UPI) -- White House counsel Don McGahn cooperated extensively in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in a series of interviews over the past nine months, according to a report by The New York Times.
McGahn held at least three voluntary interviews with Mueller's team of investigators spanning a total of 30 hours in which he provided "a clear view of the president's most intimate moments with his lawyer," to investigators who were seeking to determine whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice, according to the report Saturday.
The New York Times reported that McGahn shared details with investigators about the firing of former FBI director James Comey, Trump's desire to have Attorney General Jeff Sessions oversee the Russia probe and the president's attempts to fire Mueller.
McGahn agreed to cooperate with the investigation in part because Trump's first team of criminal lawyers agreed to cooperate fully with Mueller, stating they believed they could end the investigation quickly, as Trump had nothing to hide.
"President Trump, through counsel, declined to assert any privilege over Mr. McGahn's testimony, so Mr. McGahn answered the Special Counsel team's questions fulsomely and honestly, as any person interviewed by federal investigators must," McGahn's personal attorney, William Burck, said.
Trump confirmed that he gave McGahn and other White House staffers permission to fully cooperate with the investigation, which he has regularly dismissed as unsubstantiated and unfair.
"I allowed White House Counsel Don McGahn, and all other requested members of the White House Staff, to fully cooperate with the Special Counsel. In addition we readily gave over one million pages of documents. Most transparent in history. No Collusion, No Obstruction. Witch Hunt!" Trump wrote on Twitter after the release of the report.
The report states Trump incorrectly believed McGahn would act in the same manner as a personal lawyer would and defend his interests to investigators, but McGahn instead gave "a mix of information both potentially damaging and favorable to the president," including details of how Trump attempted to control the investigation.
However, McGahn ultimately told investigators that he never saw Trump "go beyond his legal authorities."
People close to McGahn also said he grew concerned Trump had decided to allow him to cooperate in the investigation to construct a defense that he was following McGahn's poor legal advice on decisions such as the Comey firing, which could be viewed as obstruction of Justice, according to the report.
"Mr. McGahn decided to fully cooperate with Mr. Mueller. It was, he believed, the only choice he had to protect himself," The Times reported.
Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani told CNN that McGahn was sanctioned to cooperate in the investigation and encouraged to do so by John Dowd, who was Trump's lead private attorney at the time.
He also said The New York Times leaked the report to get Trump angry with McGahn so he would be willing to testify in the probe.
White House counsel Don McGahn "cooperated extensively" with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, according to a New York Times report on Saturday.
Trump responded to the report in a series of tweets on Sunday, stating the paper had attempted to portray McGahn as a "RAT" akin to White House counsel for President Richard M. Nixon, John W. Dean, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice in the Watergate scandal.
"The Failing New York Times wrote a story that made it seem like the White House Councel had TURNED on the President, when in fact it is just the opposite - & the two Fake reporters knew this. This is why the Fake News Media has become the Enemy of the People. So bad for America!" Trump wrote.
Trump also Sunday compared the investigation to McCarthyism.
"Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!," Trump tweeted.
In the 1950s, McCarthy led a Cold War-era inquisition of alleged Communists who he claimed had infiltrated American governmental institutions.
After months of Senate hearing, the senate found the claims to be "a fraud and a hoax" and he ultimately censured by the chamber.
Also Sunday, Giuliani claimed "truth isn't truth" in describing why his client should not meet with the special counselor.
"When you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he's going to tell the truth and he shouldn't worry, well that's so silly because it's somebody's version of the truth. Not the truth," Giuliani told Chuck Todd on NBC's Meet the Press.