Trump news live: Latest updates as Don McGahn to testify to Congress
Trump news live: Latest updates as Don McGahn to testify to Congress
Don McGahn, the Donald Trump-era White House Counsel who featured heavily in Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference during the 2016 election, is gearing up to testify before a Congressional committee.
The Trump campaign veteran – who quit his White House role in 2018 amid reports that he had pushed back against the former president’s alleged desire for the Justice Department to investigate his rivals Hillary Clinton and the former FBI director James Comey – is set to face the House Judiciary Committee as it probes whether the former president obstructed justice with efforts to thwart Mr Mueller’s investigation.
While Mr McGahn’s appearance on Friday marks the culmination of a two-year battle with the committee for his testimony, which resulted in him being sued for defying a subpoena on Mr Trump’s orders in 2019, a federal court ruling last month means that he will only face questioning over his public statements within Mr Mueller’s report – which referenced him hundreds of times, following some 30 hours of questioning.
What did McGahn actually say in the Mueller report?
During his time in the White House, Don McGahn had an insider’s view of many of the episodes Robert Mueller and his team examined for potential obstruction of justice during the Russia investigation – proving a pivotal and damning witness against Donald Trump within the eventual report.
While some of the report remains redacted, the AP has this round-up of Mr McGahn’s publicly known contributions:
- He described Mr Trump’s repeated efforts to choke off the probe and directives he said he received from the president that unnerved him.
- He recounted how Mr Trump had demanded that he contact then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to order him to unrecuse himself from the Russia investigation.
- Mr McGahn also said Mr Trump had implored him to tell the deputy attorney general at the time, Rod Rosenstein, to remove Mr Mueller from his position because of perceived conflicts of interest — and, after that episode was reported in the media, to publicly and falsely deny that demand had ever been made.
- He also described the circumstances leading up to Mr Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI director, including the president’s insistence on including in the termination letter the fact that Mr Comey had reassured Mr Trump that he was not personally under investigation.
- And he was present for a critical conversation early in the Trump administration, when Sally Yates, just before she was fired as acting attorney general, relayed concerns to Mr McGahn that new national security adviser Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak — and his subsequent interview by the FBI — left him vulnerable to blackmail.
Andy Gregory4 June 2021 09:45
Government official jailed for 6 months for leaking Mueller documents to the media
A former US Treasury official has been sentenced to six months in prison for leaking official documents to the media, my colleague Mayank Aggarwal reports.
Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards was arrested in 2018 and last year pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge. She admitted to leaking banking reports, including some related to people being investigated in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
This week, US District judge Gregory H Woods called her actions “illegal and wrong” and said it was “sad and perhaps ironic” that she went into public service because she was upset over the 9/11 terror attacks but “came to believe disclosing America’s secrets would somehow be beneficial to our nation.”
Edwards’s lawyer Stephanie M Carvlin had argued that she made her disclosures after concluding that people running the Treasury Department were, through wrongdoing, “creating a dangerous situation for the American people”.
A spokesperson for BuzzFeed – which alongside the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published several stories on “The FinCEN Files”, based on material obtained from Edwards – said the news company “strongly condemned” the ruling and called her a “brave whistleblower” who “fought to warn the public about grave risks to America’s national security” despite “tremendous personal risk”.
Andy Gregory4 June 2021 09:29
Court ruling marked beginning of end of Trump’s ‘era of destruction’, committee chair said
“When the former president vowed to fight ‘all of the subpoenas’ aimed at his administration, he began a dangerous campaign of unprecedented obstruction. We begin to bring that era of obstruction to an end today.”
That’s how House Judiciary committee chair Jerrold Nadler reacted to last month’s ruling ordering Don McGahn to give his testimony.
In his statement, Mr Nadler – a Democrat – described the ruling as a good-faith compromise that “satisfies our subpoena, protects the Committee’s constitutional duty to conduct oversight in the future, and safeguards sensitive executive branch prerogatives”.
The ruling resolved a years-long legal battle after the committee sued Mr McGahn in August 2019 over his refusal, on Trump’s orders, to comply with its subpoena ordering him to testify.
Andy Gregory4 June 2021 09:12
Trump is implying he’s still president in fundraising messages
The House Judiciary committee’s investigation into whether or not Mr Trump obstructed justice with attempts to thwart Robert Mueller’s efforts to probe Russian interference in his election victory is but one of a series of potential legal challenges the 45th US president is facing.
Meanwhile, in fundraising messages sent to his supporters, Mr Trump’s campaign is still referring to him as president – four months after Joe Biden took over in the White House.
My colleague Nathan Place has more details:
Andy Gregory4 June 2021 08:57
As agreed in last month’s federal court ruling (more on that in a moment), Don McGahn will only be questioned on non-redacted aspects of the Mueller report which are attributed to him.
However, with Mr McGahn having been referenced hundreds of times, that leaves significant scope for the committee.
In his report, Mr Mueller pointedly did not exonerate Donald Trump of obstruction of justice. Nor did he recommend prosecuting him, citing Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president.
Andy Gregory4 June 2021 08:47
Who is Don McGahn, and why is his testimony so important?
My colleague in the US, Andrew Naughtie, has this refresher on Don McGahn’s significance in relation to the Trump presidency, and why his testimony is so significant.
He reports that, for two years, the House Judiciary Committee has been investigating whether or not Mr Trump obstructed justice in his attempts to punish his perceived enemies and his efforts to thwart the investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and the Russian government.
McGahn’s upcoming testimony marks a breakthrough in the face of the Trump administration’s attempts to stymie the probe with its steadfast refusal to comply with subpoenas for testimony.
Andy Gregory4 June 2021 08:38
Good morning, we’ll be using this live blog to give you the latest updates on Don McGahn’s appearance in front of the House Judiciary committee.
Andy Gregory4 June 2021 08:32