Former White House adviser Don McGann said telling the Justice Department to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller at the urging of former President Trump would be a “point of no return” that would make him feel “trapped” in his position.
But in his testimony before the House Judicial Committee after a two-year battle, McGann said he had not witnessed a breach of the law or obstruction of justice and agreed with other presidential decisions, including the dismissal of former FBI Director James Comey.
McGann’s testimony comes nearly four years after episodes documented in Mueller̵
McGann testified that the former president had repeatedly asked him to tell former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that Mueller had conflicts of interest that should prevent him from serving as special adviser. Discussions have taken place so many times that McGann said he felt “trapped” by the request and was ready to resign if asked to do so again.
His concern about calling Rosenstein, McGann said, is that the former deputy attorney general “could potentially react in a way that would cause him to resign and trigger a chain reaction that would not be in anyone’s interest.” “, he said.
He described the moment to the special lawyer as a “folding point” in Mueller’s report and expanded on that in an interview with the Court, saying it would be a “point of no return”.
“If the acting prosecutor receives instructions, he said, from the lawyer to the president to remove a special lawyer, he will either have to remove the special lawyer or resign,” McGann said.
McGann cited the scandalous massacre on Saturday night, when two of Justice President Richard Nixon’s top justice officials resigned instead of following Nixon’s order to fire Attorney General Archibald Cox.
“We still talk about ‘Saturday night massacres’ decades and decades later. And looking back, you always, as a history student, wonder if things could have turned out differently if different people had taken different solutions? ”McGann said. “It seemed to be a turning point. It was time to press the brakes and not call Rod to raise this issue, which the president continued to raise with me. It seemed to me that it would be easier not to. call and take any heat or consequences than potentially provoke a chain reaction that I don’t think would be in the president’s best interests. “
Moments later, however, McGann warned against reading too much in the analogy, as Mr. Trump, for example, never received an order to close Mueller’s office. It was Mueller and conflicts.
McGann said Mr Trump never asked him to call Mueller directly and fire him. He also said he supported the former president on another controversial issue – his decision to fire Komi.
“The story at the time, as I recall, was that the removal of the FBI director was a problem of his own. I didn’t think it was. It was in the power of the president,” McGann said.
Parliamentary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement that McGann “provided the committee with substantial new information – including first-hand reports on President Trump’s increasingly uncontrollable behavior and insight into fears that the former president’s behavior could expose Trump and McGann. of criminal liability. “
“Overall, Mr McGann’s testimony gives us a new perspective on how dangerously President Trump has brought us, in Mr McGann’s words, to the point of no return,” he added.
Parliament Speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed McGann’s testimony as a “victory for democracy”.
But the commission’s top Republican, Jim Jordan, issued a note arguing that the interview did not reveal evidence of misconduct, wrongdoing or crime by the former president, or any efforts to stifle other inquiries from the administration.
McGann’s testimony before the commission marks the culmination of a long-running subpoena dispute issued by the Judicial Commission in April 2019, after Mueller published his long-awaited report. McGann met voluntarily with Mueller’s investigators and was widely quoted by the Special Counsel for Obstruction of Justice, who did not conclude whether Mr. Trump was guilty or not guilty of such charges.
According to the court settlement of his testimony, McGann could only answer questions about what he had told the special lawyer and every episode in which he was featured in the publicly available version of the report.
Zack Hudak, Nicole Kilion, Paulina Smolinski and Fritz Farrow contributed to this report.