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Don McGahn, Tom Delay’s defense attorney

Don McGahn, Tom Delay's defense attorney

by digby


The New York Times story from last night pretty much concludes that the White House counsel, Don McGahn, conspired with the president to obstruct the Russia investigation when he went to the Attorney General to tell him not to recuse himself from the Russian investigation because the president expected him to protect him --- "where's my Roy Cohn?"


Anyway, this should not come as a shock. McGahn is a a hardcore right wing political operative whose expertise was as an election lawyer specializing in GOP cheating.

I wrote about him when he was first named for Salon:

President Barack Obama tried to warn Trump that he needed to find a White House counsel who would give him strong, unbiased advice and help him navigate these treacherous ethical waters. Trump clearly didn't listen. In fact he went out of his way to name as his chief counsel one of the most notorious lawyers in Washington, Don McGahn, the man best known as the ethics lawyer to corrupt former House whip Tom "The Hammer" DeLay, a man who pretty much filled the swamp Trump promised to drain. As the architects of the "K Street Project," which strong-armed lobbyists into hiring only Republicans if they wanted to do business with the government, DeLay and McGahn were instrumental in institutionalizing GOP self-dealing and corruption during the George W. Bush years.
DeLay had Texas tear up its 2000 redistricting plan after Republicans won the majority in 2002, and McGahn defended him when DeLay was tried for illegally funneling campaign cash into a PAC to help Republicans win. (He lost the case, but it was reversed on appeal.) Of course, McGahn also had been the lawyer who advised him that the scheme was legal in the first place. 
McGahn helped DeLay with a Russian pay-to-play scheme and a subsequent Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act lawsuit. As the in-house counsel for the National Republican Campaign Committee, McGahn oversaw the raising of more than $625 million from 2000 to 2008 with almost no oversight and no rules. The scheme finally ended when a Republican congressman insisted on an audit and the FBI indicted the treasurer on embezzlement charges. 
Naturally, George W. Bush then made McGahn a member of the Federal Election Commission, where he did everything in his power to undermine the campaign finance lawsand succeeded — after which he went to work for the Koch brothers — of course. In 2016 he joined the Trump campaign, and he will now be White House counsel. 
The idea that this man is going to give Trump guidance on how to deal with conflicts of interest in an ethical manner is laughable. His career has been spent counseling his clients on how to do the opposite. Like Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn and Jeff Sessions, it's yet another example of Trump hiring the worst person in America for the job. It's almost as if he's trolling America, just messing with our heads for the fun of it. And like nearly all forms of trolling, it's not funny at all.

As Ellen L. Weintraub of the Federal Election Commission wrote back in December of 2016:

Agency dysfunction was not a byproduct of McGahn’s approach — it was the goal. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, McGahn vetoed proposed rules aimed at ensuring disclosure of the sources of political spending, barring employees from being coerced to support their bosses’ political choices, keeping foreign interests from influencing our elections and addressing the new political powerhouses known as super PACs.

I have served on the FEC for 14 years, with 14 commissioners. While disagreements are nothing new at the FEC, commissioners on both sides of the aisle used to understand that serving on a commission composed of three Democratic and three Republican appointees required compromise and that it was our job to make the agency work. No other commissioner has been as intransigent, as hostile to other points of view and as determined to undermine the law and the commission as McGahn was. The example he set hampers the agency to this day.


I'm sure he was asked for and gave Trump the required loyalty oath. But the White House counsel is supposed to serve the administration, not the president. Now it appears he helped the president obstruct justice. That's what he was hired to do.