White House asked Don McGahn to say publicly that Trump did not obstruct justice, report says – The Independent

White House officials recently asked Don McGahn — a key witness against the president in the Mueller report — to state publicly that he did not believe Donald Trump had obstructed justice, according to a new report.

Mr McGahn was Mr Trump’s first White House counsel, and reportedly angered the president after refusing to stand up for him. Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s report details several occasions in which Mr Trump asked him to find ways to fire the special counsel during the investigation.

The new report comes from The New York Times, which cited two individuals familiar with the matter.

The newspaper reported that one of those attempts came just before the Mueller report was made public last month, but after the justice department had given a copy to Mr Trump’s lawyers. At that time, officials reached out to Mr McGahn’s lawyer William Burck, concerned that Mr Mueller’s report had left out the fact that the former White House counsel that he did not believe Mr Trump had obstructed justice.

The effort was made in part to calm down the president, and in order to help the administration’s efforts to counter the several instances of potential obstruction detailed in Mr Mueller’s report.

The effort illustrates the lengths that the Trump administration went to in order to counter the release of the Mueller report, which has caused a stir in Washington in part because of the way it was portrayed publicly by attorney general William Barr.

In a letter to Congress just after receiving the report from the special counsel’s office, Mr Barr declared that he had determined that Mr Trump did not obstruct justice. He also detailed at length those beliefs in a press conference just before a redacted version of the report was released to Congress last month.

There was no immediate comment from the White House.

In a statement to the newspaper, Mr McGahn’s lawyer, Mr Burck said: “We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister. It was a request, professionally and cordially made.” 

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