The first responsibility of being Donald Trump’s lawyer seems to be attacking Donald Trump’s previous lawyers. First, that meant Michael Cohen, and now it’s former White House Counsel Don McGahn.
So far as Trump is concerned, McGahn made a basic error—he was truthful and cooperated with a criminal investigation. In the process, McGahn made it clear just how much Trump tried to hamstring, harm, and end the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. As the New York Times reports, McGahn became one of the witnesses most cited in the report produced by special counsel Robert Mueller. References to the White House counsel’s testimony came up 157 times.
And there was a good reason. Trump twice called on McGahn to remove Mueller and end the investigation. That includes an event in June 2017, just a month after the investigation began, in which Trump claimed that McGahn should get Mueller fired because “he had several conflicts of interest issues.” Instead, McGahn threatened to resign, saying that Trump was ordering him to do “crazy shit.”
Clearly, speaking the truth is the one sin that cannot be tolerated by Trump or anyone around him, so current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has issued an attack on McGahn. According to Giuliani, McGahn’s statements “can’t be taken at face value.” He followed up by speculating that McGahn was lying, or McGahn wasn’t remembering correctly, or Trump was only making a joke by “venting his frustrations” with Mueller.
Trump had previously posted a twisted attack on McGahn’s credibility for a reason that for anyone else, would seem incredibly strange. McGahn took notes during meetings. According to the former counsel, Trump asked about the notes at the time, and McGahn had to explain that it was what “real lawyers” did. But Trump later tweeted “Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed.”
Trump famously does not take notes. Or use email. Or do anything else that can possibly be used to document the instructions he provides to others. The concept that other people want an accurate record of events isn’t just odd to Trump, it’s threatening.
Giuliani didn’t just call McGahn a liar. As the Washington Post reports, he said he wished he could get Trump’s former fixer on the stand.
“The narrative is written as if it’s all true and somebody proved it. Nobody proved it,” Giuliani said in an interview Friday. “I’m frustrated by the report because in some ways I’d love to have a trial and prove that it’s not true.”
It would be interesting to know how Giuliani would achieve this legal feat since the only other person in this he said / he said narrative has both refused to testify and defended his ability to take exactly the action which McGahn claimed.