White House Counsel McGahn leaving; key man in legal storms

The White House counsel, Don McGahn, may leave the Trump administration in short order after cooperating extensively with the special counsel's investigation into possible criminal wrongdoing from President Donald Trump.

During his time as White House counsel, McGahn repeatedly butted heads with Trump and occupied a position rife with conflicts.

More quietly, away from the scandals that dominate news coverage, McGahn helped Trump select a record number of conservative judges around the country, in what may prove one of Trump's more consequential moves as president.

Sources close to the White House said earlier this month that McGahn was likely to leave his White House post after Kavanaugh is confirmed.

McGahn, who has met with investigators on at least three occasions for many hours at a time, threatened to resign past year if Trump continued to press for Mueller's removal.

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McGahn would be the latest in a string of high-profile departures or firings from the Trump administration, which are occurring at a pace not seen at this juncture in previous presidencies.

ABC News' Tara Palmeri and Katherine Faulders contributed reporting to this article. Trump has described Mueller's investigation as a politically-motivated "witch hunt", and "McCarthyism at its worst", but gave McGahn his full blessing to cooperate with Mueller.

"He was surprised", the source said. He'll make his exit soon after the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. "Along with the attorney general", Giuliani said, the White House counsel is "the other guy protecting the president's back". McGahn has been the pipeline for recommendations to Trump; it's not clear that he will be replaced by anyone half as effective.

Trump has said he approved of McGahn's cooperation, and his legal team has used the revelation that investigators spent more than 30 hours with McGahn to argue it's time to wrap up the probe. Flynn was forced to resign after reports revealed Yates' warning to McGahn about Flynn's conduct. White House officials persuaded Sessions not to resign even after the president berated him for recusing himself from the Russian Federation probe, which led to the appointment of Mueller as special counsel.

McGahn has served as the lawyer overseeing White House legal concerns more generally. His general attitude after 18 months in this White House, this person said, was "of course it happened this way".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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