Top White House lawyer set to depart, President Trump says
President Donald Trump has announced that his top White House lawyer will be departing in the autumn.
White House counsel Don McGahn will leave after the expected Senate confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Unlike some less-amicable administration separations, President Trump praised his top lawyer on Twitter, saying that he had “worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service”.
White House counsel Don McGahn (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Mr McGahn’s departure had been expected as the White House enters the autumn elections and looks to win confirmation for Judge Kavanaugh, the president’s second opportunity to place his imprint on the Supreme Court.
Mr McGahn, a top election lawyer who served as general counsel on President Trump’s campaign, has played a pivotal role in the president’s remaking of the federal judiciary with young, conservative judges.
He also helped guide President Trump’s selection of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and the president’s nomination of Judge Kavanaugh and helped oversee a dramatic rollback of Obama era regulations.
The White House counsel is among the most critical — and yet least visible — positions within the West Wing, with input on a range of issues from policy to personnel to national security.
But Mr McGahn’s time has also been marked by controversy as the main point of contact inside the White House for the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mr McGahn, who has consented to interviews with Mr Mueller’s team, threatened to resign last year if President Trump continued to press for Mr Mueller’s removal.
President Trump’s announcement comes more than a week after a New York Times report that Mr McGahn had been cooperating extensively with Mr Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with President Trump’s Republican campaign.
President Trump insisted at the time that his general counsel was not a “RAT” and accused Mr Mueller’s team of “looking for trouble”.
He contrasted Mr McGahn with John Dean, the White House counsel for President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal.
Mr Dean ultimately cooperated with prosecutors and helped bring down the Nixon presidency in 1974, though he served a prison term for obstruction of justice.
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