Ex-White House Counsel Don McGahn’s testimony fizzled for Democrats looking for new evidence that President Trump tried to obstruct special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, according to a transcript released Wednesday.
Mr. McGahn retold how he refused to follow Mr. Trump’s orders, choosing to resign than trigger a potential Saturday Night Massacre, referring to a similar Watergate-era scandal for the Nixon administration.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly denied the accusations.
“Given his track record of prosecuting people for [false statements], I would have probably been next,” Mr. McGahn testified. “He had already publicly made clear he was going after various people for that and that certainly would weigh on anybody’s mind.”
“So, you know, it was disappointing that he’d come out and say ‘it was never on the table,’ when certainly, at least the conflict-of-interest issue and whether it would preclude Mueller from being special counsel, certainly was discussed,” he continued.
“What I was not going to do is cause any sort of chain reaction that would cause this to spiral out of control in a way that wasn’t in the best interests … of my client, which was the president,” he said.
“Whatever ‘collusion’ means, I don’t think I witnessed anything,” he said.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle claimed victory with Mr. McGahn’s testimony despite the lack of new information.
“The interview uncovered no nefarious plot to stifle ongoing investigations in relation to the Mueller probe or other related inquiries into the Trump administration,” said Rep Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking Republican on the committee.
“If there is any clear conclusion from the interview, it is that the Democrats over-promised when it came to McGahn‘s testimony and failed again to find any wrongdoing on the part of President Trump,” he continued.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, saw it differently. He said Mr. McGahn’s testimony gave a firsthand view of how “dangerously close” Mr. Trump came to firing the special counsel.
“Mr. McGahn provided the committee with substantial new information — including firsthand accounts of President Trump’s increasingly out-of-control behavior, and insight into concerns that the former president’s conduct could expose both Trump and McGahn to criminal liability,” he said.
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