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Trump Attacks Paper's Report On White House Counsel Don McGahn

Aug 20, 2018
Originally published on August 20, 2018 5:47 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

President Trump once again lashed out at the special counsel investigation into Russia election interference and any possible ties to the Trump campaign. His comments on Twitter this weekend were prompted by a newspaper article detailing cooperation by White House counsel Don McGahn with special counsel Robert Mueller. NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe joins us to talk about this. Ayesha, good morning.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Good morning.

GREENE: So what's the president so mad about?

RASCOE: He's mad about this story in The New York Times that basically says that Don McGahn, White House counsel, that he has talked extensively with the special counsel's office. They say he spent about 30 hours in voluntary interviews. We don't know what was said in these interviews. We don't exactly know the implications. But, President Trump, he pushed back on Twitter against this idea that maybe McGahn was acting against him. Trump says that he allowed McGahn to be interviewed because he felt he had nothing to hide. And so you have the president's current lawyer Rudy Giuliani kind of backing up this idea that this was a strategy that Trump's legal team had taken in the beginning with the Mueller probe. Basically, they decided to fully cooperate and allow and turn over all these documents and make witnesses available because they thought that would kind of wrap up or help the investigation to wrap up sooner.

GREENE: Remind me, though. Hasn't the president's legal team changed? Like, the decision to fully cooperate was a previous legal team and there are new lawyers in place. So is the president's response to the whole investigation evolving?

RASCOE: It definitely has evolved. So you have the original lawyers John Dowd, Ty Cobb, they're gone. So now you have Giuliani and some others, and they're taking a much more aggressive stance. So Giuliani was on - Rudy Giuliani was on "Meet The Press" yesterday, and he said that - basically, he talked about why Trump's legal team has been reluctant to let Trump speak with Mueller.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")

RUDY GIULIANI: And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he's going to tell the truth and he shouldn't worry, well, that's so silly. Because it's somebody's version of the truth, not the truth. He didn't have a conversation...

CHUCK TODD: Truth is truth. I don't mean to go, like...

GIULIANI: No. It isn't truth. Truth isn't truth.

GREENE: Did Giuliani say truth isn't truth?

RASCOE: He did. And that's probably going to follow him for a long time. But what Giuliani is doing in all these interviews - I think what part of what he might be trying to do is, he and Trump are trying to kind of raise questions about the Mueller investigation. They want the public to be questioning and maybe have doubts about what Mueller is trying to do. And so you have the president now almost daily calling Mueller out, saying he's conflicted. And yesterday, Trump even compared the Russia probe to McCarthyism.

GREENE: Do we have any idea - I mean, I know we have the question of whether the president would sit down for an interview. We know that McGahn has been cooperating. Step back for me, if you can. Where does this investigation stand and how long might it go?

RASCOE: We definitely don't know how long it might go. You have Giuliani out there saying that they want this to be wrapped up by September 1, but we don't have any indications that that's what's going to happen. They are still in these negotiations about doing a possible interview. A little while ago, Giuliani said they gave their last best offer to Mueller in terms of for a sit-down with Trump. But it's not really clear, like, when all of this is going to get wrapped up.

GREENE: OK. NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe giving us the latest, at least, as far as we know, on where Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation into Russian election interference stands at this point. Ayesha, thanks a lot.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.