Until now, the documentation of Donald Trump’s corruption, lies, and obstruction had been left to law enforcement officials outside the White House, such as James Comey and Andrew McCabe, both of whom formerly led the FBI.
But the latest kerfuffle around Jared Kushner’s bogus security clearance reportedly stemmed from two memos written by officials inside the White House, namely chief of staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn. Kelly wrote that he had been “ordered” by Trump to give Kushner the top-secret clearance, and McGahn noted in his memo that he had recommended against granting the clearance. Whatever one might think of the character of either man, they may have had just enough experience and/or smarts to know when Trump was crossing a line that might come back to haunt them. So in order to insulate themselves, they in all likelihood put pen to paper more than a few times, if for no other reason than to cover their own behinds.
In fact, McGahn alone is likely to have left a trail of such memos. Technically, his job as White House counsel was to protect the office of the presidency, not necessarily the president. Trump couldn’t have possibly understood that distinction—he doesn’t even get that the Justice Department doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of protecting him. McGahn, for better or worse, appears to have been one of the sharper tools in the shed, especially among those who were there from Day 1. Original chief of staff Reince Priebus, for instance, most likely spent his entire time chasing his own tail in the maelstrom of Trump’s White House. But McGahn did things such as reportedly stuffing away in a safe Trump’s original four-page rationale for firing Comey. McCabe, who saw that memo, called it “rambling.” Dollars to donuts it’s nothing short of blueprint for setting down one’s motives to obstruct justice all in one Sharpie-laden legal pad that’s currently in Robert Mueller’s possession.
In any case, these memos and the “contemporaneous notes” that myriad people both within the White House and throughout the administration have been writing during our latest national nightmare will be the history that survives Trump’s hopefully one-and-only term. And it won’t be pretty.