President Donald Trump unloaded on the “Fake News Media” once again early Thursday morning and blatantly contradicted what Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia report had to say about former White House counsel Don McGahn. The legal experts came out in force in opposition.
“As has been incorrectly reported by the Fake News Media, I never told then White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller, even though I had the legal right to do so. If I wanted to fire Mueller, I didn’t need McGahn to do it, I could have done it myself,” Trump said. “Nevertheless, Mueller was NOT fired and was respectfully allowed to finish his work on what I, and many others, say was an illegal investigation (there was no crime), headed by a Trump hater who was highly conflicted, and a group of 18 VERY ANGRY Democrats. DRAIN THE SWAMP!”
Okay, technically he didn’t tell McGahn to fire Mueller (McGahn didn’t have the power to fire the special counsel); he told McGahn–twice–to tell Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller.
We know this because Mueller got McGahn to recall the directive. “You gotta do this. You gotta call Rod,” Trump said, according to McGahn. We also know that McGahn disobeyed Trump’s orders and was afraid that a “Saturday Night Massacre” was a real threat. Mueller said that Trump’s attempts to influence the investigation were “mostly unsuccessful” precisely because White House staffers, McGahn included, “declined to carry out orders“:
The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests. [James] Comey did not end the investigation of [Michael] Flynn, which ultimately resulted in Flynn’s prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI. [Don] McGahn did not tell the Acting Attorney General that the Special Counsel must be removed, but was instead prepared to resign over the President’s order. [Corey] Lewandowski and [Rick] Dearborn did not deliver the President’s message to [Jeff] Sessions that he should confine the Russia investigation to future election meddling only. And McGahn refused to recede from his recollections about events surrounding the President’s direction to have the Special Counsel removed, despite the President’s multiple demands that he do so.
We further know that Trump is doing everything he can to stop McGahn from testifying before Congress. And, unlike McGahn, Trump declined to answer Mueller’s questions about obstruction. McGahn answered Mueller’s questions fully aware that if he lied he could go to prison.
Legal analysts, lawyers, and law profs were not having the president’s tweets.
Say Goodbye to the Executive Privilege Argument?
To the extent he had any argument about executive privilege (which was clearly already waived) it’s 100% gone now. Can’t hide behind legal privilege & then go out & give your (lying) version of the facts. That’s the law & it’s just common sense. https://t.co/NtYFGa0yLD
— Mimi Rocah (@Mimirocah1) April 25, 2019
Who’s More Believable, a Man Under Oath or a Man on Twitter?
What’s more likely?
That Don McGahn lied in a situation in which lying would be a felony (and would subject him to ethical sanctions), or that @realDonaldTrump, who never sat down with Mueller for an interview, is lying now?
(This is a rhetorical question.) https://t.co/HDa1YHIXr6
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) April 25, 2019
So Brave of You to Say This While Preventing McGahn’s Testimony
You are calling Don McGahn a liar. But at the same time you are forbidding him from responding in congressional testimony. Don deserves the right to respond. https://t.co/Q7SedwykHR
— J.W. Verret (@JWVerret) April 25, 2019
It’s Almost Like Trump’s Tweet Could Be Used as a Pretext to Investigate Further…
The president accuses his former White House Counsel of making criminal false statements to investigators. Seems like the kind of thing that one might hold a congressional hearing over. https://t.co/Q1UUwOoVo3
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) April 25, 2019
Like I said in last night’s tweet and this week’s #CrossExam @CNN: somebody is very scared of Don McGahn. Exhibit A just came in from the President, below. https://t.co/a2a3roIePd https://t.co/TcZSzIAtwC
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) April 25, 2019
So Much for “Full Exoneration”?
There is ample evidence to the contrary, as Mueller found. Even now, when he claims “full exoneration,” Trump chooses to lie about basic facts. https://t.co/7CLoNPQBxF
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) April 25, 2019
Witness intimidation https://t.co/aNbor6MG8D
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) April 25, 2019
[Image via Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images]