Former White House attorney Don McGahn said in his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee that Donald Trump wanted him to dismiss Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election results.
According to McGahn, the former president was so clear in his demand that he almost threatened to resign in 2017. He reportedly told former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus that Mr. Trump asked him to do “crazy shit”.
Describing several cases of potential disability from Mr. Trump, McGahn said it had reached a “turning point” and “it was time to step on the brakes” when Mr. Trump allegedly pressured him to order Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to Dismiss Mr. Mueller.
“If the acting attorney general were to receive an instruction in his opinion from the presidential attorney to remove a special investigator, he would either have to remove the special investigator or resign,” McGahn said while testifying.
“We’re still talking about the Saturday Night Massacre decades and decades later,” he said as he compared Mr Trump’s alleged interference in the investigation with that of President Richard Nixon, who fired several senior officials to investigate the Watergate block scandal.
Mr Nixon’s decision sparked great outrage and severely damaged his reputation. His impeachment proceedings began ten days after his decision to remove the special prosecutor.
The 2019 Mueller report, on the other hand, concluded that while the Trump campaign welcomed and expected Russian interference to benefit, there was insufficient evidence to support charges of conspiracy against the then president and his staff to raise.
Defending his decision not to call Mr. Rosenstein, McGahn said, “This seemed like a turning point.”
“It was time to put on the brakes and not call Rod to bring this up, which the president had kept bringing me up,” he said. “It seemed to me that it would be easier not to make the call and take away any heat or fallout than it could possibly start a chain reaction that I don’t think would be in the President’s best interests. ”
Mr. McGahn said he didn’t call Mr. Rosenstein either because “he” [Rosensteing] could possibly react in such a way that he might resign, and that would set off a chain reaction that would be in no one’s interest. “
The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has been trying for a number of years to question Mr McGahn in its investigation into whether Mr Trump has obstructed the judiciary in his attempts to thwart the investigation into possible collusion with the Russians.
While previous White House subpoenas were blocked, the committee broke through last week after a two-year trial over his testimony.