Politics - News Analysis
Nadler Describes Former WH Counsel McGahn’s Testimony: Trump Brought Us Close to the Point of No Return
The House Judiciary Committee just released the transcript (a long one, 245 pages) of its closed hearing with Former White House Counsel Don McGahn. The House had agreed to some conditions on limits regarding McGahn’s testimony. It agreed that it would not ask about private conversations between Trump and McGahn. That was probably a good idea. The White House counsel does serve as the presidential staff’s lawyer with respect to official duties, which the DOJ certainly does not. It is probably best to not test the limits of attorney-client privilege in a House hearing. That might be better left to the courts.
But even the testimony McGahn gave paints a dire picture as to how it was that some people actually did protect us from some of the worst Trump abuses. Chairman Jerry Nadler said: (Thanks to Rawstory for the transcript, and paragraph)
“All told, Mr. McGahn’s testimony gives us a fresh look at how dangerously close President Trump brought us to, in Mr. McGahn’s words, the ‘point of no return,'”
Okay. Priebus recalled that McGahn said that the President asked him to do, quote, “do crazy shit,” unquote, but he thought McGahn did not tell him the specifics of the President’s request because McGahn was trying to protect Priebus from what he did not need to know.
Q So, even if you don’t recall saying those specific words, is that a fair characterization of how you viewed the President’s request?
A Well, the President probably thinks this is an unfair characterization, but I —
Q I’m asking for your opinion.
A — think — I think it’s fair.
Q Can you just repeat that for the record? You think it’s fair?
A I think it’s fair.
Q Thank you.
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At the time, Priebus would have technically been Don McGahn’s boss. Generally speaking, even in the White House, one would think that the White House Counsel would tell the chief of staff what “crazy shit” Trump wanted to be done, if for no other reason than to bring in another person to stop that crazy shit.
Of course, as we all know, Priebus was a symbol, a nod toward the RNC and traditional Republicans. Priebus had basically no power when he was there and didn’t last long. That might have been the issue. McGahn might well have known that Priebus wasn’t really “a Trump guy” in the White House and perhaps didn’t want Priebus having to answer questions about the “crazy shit” Trump wanted to be done.
But we also take Nadler at his word. We were much closer to the “point of no return” than we thought, and no matter how cynical you believe yourself to be and no matter how much you think you’ve known all along, it was probably worse. Quite a statement post-January 6th. We should also remember, this was early in the administration, back when people like Priebus and McGahn were around to say “No” behind Trump’s back. We don’t know what happened inside after they left, after the Mueller report, after the first impeachment, after Trump knew he was untouchable.
[email protected] and on Twitter @JasonMiciak