President Donald Trump angrily pushed back on media reports about his sudden announcement of White House counsel Don McGahn’s exit – and insisted his daughter Ivanka were not involved in his ouster.
Trump fired off a pair of tweets about the impending exit of McGahn, who has been by his side since his campaign and was witness to some of the most dramatic scenes of his presidency, such as decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey.
Trump also defended his daughter against a New York Times report that she had complained about an earlier story that detailed anger inside the White House against the extent of McGahn’s cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller, as well as a suggestion that she was involved in a leak that helped precipitate Trump’s announcement of McGahn’s departure.
‘Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner had NOTHING to do with the so called “pushing out” of Don McGahn. The Fake News Media has it, purposely,so wrong!’ Trump wrote.
‘They love to portray chaos in the White House when they know that chaos doesn’t exist-just a “smooth running machine” with changing parts!’
Trump said he was ‘very excited’ about McGahn’s replacement, though he didn’t name the person. He misspelled the word ‘counsel’ as ‘Councel’ – an indication that Trump crafted the early morning tweet himself.
‘I liked Don, but he was NOT responsible for me not firing Bob Mueller or Jeff Sessions. So much Fake Reporting and Fake News!’ Trump wrote.
He was pointing to reports that McGahn threatened to resign during a high point of Trump’s venting about Sessions and claim he would fire him. Such a move might have only bolstered a possible obstruction of justice case being explored by investigators.
Sessions has recused himself from the Russia probe, but a successor might be able to take seize control of it or even dismantle it.
Trump sought to shape the McGahn narrative after new claims that the president’s daughter,Ivanka Trump, had a hand in his departure.
President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday that McGahn’s exit from the White House would come this fall. Trump issued the tweet just hours after an anonymous report that the White House counsel was on the way out.
The news followed a New York Times story last month that White House aides were surprised to learn the extent of McGahn’s cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller – something that Trump himself said happened with his own express approval.
Nevertheless, Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, have been identified as among those displeased with the cooperation story. She ‘complained bitterly’ to her father about it, the Times reported Wednesday afternoon.
Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner (back left), have been identified as among those displeased with a story about White House counsel Don McGahn’s cooperation with Robert Mueller’s investigators
The report also identifies her as a suspected source for an Axios report that accurately forecasted McGahn’s departure. Ironically, the report came on a day when Trump blasted anonymous sources as not to be believed.
The story notes that McGahn has been a ‘frequent target’ of Ivanka and Kushner, and states that McGahn believed the story got planted to force the president to go forward and announce his departure from the White House.
However, a source familiar with the situation told DailyMail.com Ivanka and Kushner had nothing to do with the Axios story.
Kushner survived reports last year that his days in the Trump White House were numbered. He was singled out for praise by the president this week in hammering out a new trade deal with Mexico.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto also acknowledged the president’s son-in-law, who made an on-record appearance in a press call organized by the White House.
Despite the palace intrigue, President Trump hailed his retiring White House counsel as the president revealed he personally gave the green light for McGahn to submit to interviews with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators.
‘You know, I had to approve it. We didn’t claim executive –’ Trump said, asked if he was upset that retiring White House counsel Don McGahn spoke to Robert Mueller’s investigators
Trump lauded McGahn hours after he broke the news of McGahn’s retirement on Twitter – not only to the nation but to McGahn himself.
‘He’s a good man. Very good man. Don – excellent guy,’ Trump said of the lawyer who was reported to have spoken to investigators for 30 hours.
‘Don McGahn’s a really good guy. Been with me for a long time. Privately before this he represented me,’ Trump said, saluting the inside lawyer after reports there have been strains in their relationship for months.
‘A lot of affection for Don. He’ll be moving on probably the private sector, maybe the private sector. And he’ll do very well. He’s done an excellent job,’ said Trump.
Trump said he didn’t have a problem with McGahn talking talking to Mueller, whose Russia probe has gone on for more than a year.
President Donald Trump’s White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner arrives at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018
President Donald Trump announced that White House counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his post.
Then he added: ‘I knew he was going also. You know, I had to approve it. We didn’t claim executive,’ Trump said, ending his thought, and likely referencing executive privelege.
Then he backtracked: ‘No I don’t have to be aware, we have, we do everything straight, we do everything by the book. And Don is an excellent guy.’
Earlier Wednesday, Trump announced that McGahn – who cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller but whom the president defended as not being a ‘RAT’ – will be leaving his post.
Trump lauded McGahn in comments from the White House
The Washington Post reported that McGahn learned about his departure from the tweet, without getting advance notice.
McGahn has cooperated with extensively with Mueller’s investigators, who have been probing Russian election interference as well as potential obstruction issues such as the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
But he did so with a green light from Trump’s original legal team. He also has been identified with Trump’s successful push to stack the judiciary with conservatives to lifetime appointments.
Trump sent off McGahn, who will be leaving the White House this fall, with a compliment in a Wednesday tweet.
‘White House Counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his position in the fall, shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court,’ Trump wrote. ‘I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!’
Trump insisted McGan is ‘not a RAT’ in a tweet after a New York Times report on his cooperation, which included 30 hours of interviews.
The two men have clashed and have a tense relationship.
White House counsel Don McGahn, follows Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh to his meeting with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018
Trump announced the coming departure on Twitter
Axios reported Wednesday morning on McGahn’s departure – based on anonymous sourcing. Also on Wednesday, Trump attacked anonymous sources and said they were fake and should not be believed.
According to the report, McGahn favors as his successor Emmett Flood, who represents Trump in the Russia probe from inside the White House.
Earlier this month Trump tore into a New York Times account, which characterized McGahn’s cooperation with Mueller as a potential threat to the White House.
Trump in a tweet invoked former White House counsel John Dean, who cooperated with prosecutors during Watergate, helping to ultimately bring down Richard Nixon.
‘The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type ‘RAT,’ Trump wrote. The president misspelled ‘counsel’ in the tweet.
‘But I allowed him and all others to testify – I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide……’ the president added.
Dean responded: ”Trump, a total incompetent, is bungling and botching his handling of Russiagate. Fate is never kind to bunglers and/or botchers! Unlike Nixon, however, Trump won’t leave willingly or graciously.’
Earlier Trump blasted anonymous sources – although an anonymously sourced report Wednesday morning anticipated the announcement Trump confirmed
McGahn – who was present throughout the chaotic early days of the Trump administration as national security advisor Mike Flynn was fired, the travel ban was drafted, Trump fired Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself and Mueller was appointed – cooperated with the consent of Trump’s original legal team.
Trump’s current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ this month Trump didn’t did not raise executive privilege in hopes of bringing the probe to a speedy close.
‘The president encouraged him to testify, is happy that he did, is quite secure that there is nothing in the testimony that will hurt the president,’ Giuliani said.
McGahn previously served as a commissioner on the Federal Elections Commission and as the top lawyer on Trump’s campaign.
He also oversaw the successful confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, which Trump touts as one of his main accomplishments.
Out of the spotlight, he has also helped steer Circuit Court and District Court judges through the system.
Not all the nominees went through in the push to bill benches at the start of Trump’s term.
Brett Talley, who was a 36-year old Justice Department official, withdrew despite clearing the Judiciary Committee after with a unanimous unqualified rating from the America Bar Association. It emerged that he failed to disclose blog posts he penned under a pseudonym including one backing the early Ku Klux Klan, as NPR reported. He also didn’t disclose he was married to McGahn’s chief of staff.
McGahn threatened to quit when Trump threatened to fire Mueller last June, the New York Times reported.