Former U.S. president Donald Trump ordered his top White House attorney, Donald McGahn, to issue a false statement at the height of the Mueller investigation, though he knew that lying could carry criminal consequences for both of them
McGahn, who served as Trump’s first White House counsel, revealed this to members of the House Judiciary Committee in a closed-door hearing last week.
He said the ex-president instructed him to issue a statement in February 2018 denying that he had ever tried to fire former FBI director Robert Mueller, who was tasked with investigating obstruction in the 2016 election.
The revelation came out in a 241-page transcript of the testimony released on Wednesday.
Trump knew that statement “would not have been accurate” since he had ordered McGahn months earlier to orchestrate Mueller’s firing — a demand McGahn refused, he testified.
Trump also knew at the time that McGahn had already told Mueller’s investigators the truth, and that the special counsel would not take kindly to the White House lawyer giving conflicting accounts of a key episode in his probe into whether the former president obstructed justice, according to the testimony.
“[Mueller] had already publicly made clear he was going after various people for that, and that certainly is one that would weigh on anybody’s mind,” McGahn testified, referring to false statement crimes, according to the transcript.
Nonetheless, Trump kept pressuring McGahn, making him feel “trapped,” he testified.
Frustrated, perturbed, trapped,” he told lawmakers. “
“Many emotions … Trapped because the president had the same conversation with me repeatedly, and I thought I conveyed my views and offered my advice, and we were still having the same conversation.”