President Donald Trump on Monday directed former White House counsel Don McGahn not to comply with a subpoena to testify about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report, intensifying a clash between the Trump administration and the House Democrats who subpoenaed McGahn to appear.
Trump, speaking to reporters Monday evening, called the directive “a very important precedent,” adding: “And the attorneys say that they’re not doing that for me. They’re doing it for the office of the president. So we’re talking about the future.”
Mueller had spent almost two years investigating whether there were any collusion between Trump’s team and representatives of Russia about Trump’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election campaign and whether Trump was obstructing the judiciary. McGahn is an important figure, Mueller’s final report lists Trump’s attempts to influence Russia’s investigation, including through McGahn.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed Trump’s view in a statement Monday afternoon, arguing that Democrats “want a wasteful and unnecessary do-over” of the Mueller probe.
“This action has been taken in order to ensure that future Presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the Office of the Presidency,” Sanders said.
Accordingly, the president tried several times to achieve the withdrawal of Mueller as special investigator. In June 2017, for example, Trump asked McGahn to urge the Minister of Justice that Mueller had a conflict of interest and therefore had to be replaced. McGahn had not followed that, when this became public in the media in 2018, Trump had internally pressurized McGahn to publicly deny the conversation – but again without success.
Since the beginning of the year, the Democrats have held a majority in the House of Representatives and have conducted various investigations against Trump and his environment, requested documents and summoned witnesses.