White House attorney Don McGahn refused President Donald Trump’s request to issue a public statement saying he did not obstruct justice, according to Friday reports from the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
A day after the Mueller report was released to Congress and the public, Trump sought to have McGahn release a statement publicly saying that Trump directing McGahn to fire Mueller – despite Trump having denied ever doing it — would not be obstruction, the WSJ reported. McGahn rebuffed the request, which was made by White House lawyer Emmet Flood.
The NYT furthered that report, alleging that Trump asked McGahn for the same proclamation in the small period of time between the time when Trump’s lawyers got a copy of the Mueller report and when it was publicly released. McGahn did not immediately decline.
“We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister,” William A. Burck, McGahn’s lawyer, said in a statement to the Times. “It was a request, professionally and cordially made.” A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a message seeking comment. (RELATED: Don McGahn Gives Democrats The Stiff-Arm, Defies Subpoena For Mueller Records)
Mueller opted not to make a formal decision on obstruction of justice because a sitting president cannot be indicted, according to Department of Justice guidelines. Instead, the special counsel laid out 10 specific examples of possible obstruction — Trump allegedly telling McGahn to fire Mueller was one of the 10.