President Donald Trump is reportedly furious at White House Counsel Don McGahn for not acting as his personal attorney and trying to push back against the Russia probe.
The president has asked a variety of law enforcement, intelligence and elected officials to refute or halt the investigation, but he is particularly annoyed that his White House attorney hasn’t represented his personal interests, sources told Politico.
Four sources told the website that Trump started this week by dressing down McGahn in the Oval Office for failing to quash the Russia investigation early on, which one friend said displayed the president’s misunderstanding of the White House counsel’s role.
“This is one of the misconceptions about the White House counsel’s office,” said one source, described by Politico as an informal but frequent White House visitor. “Don represents the institution. What is going on with Russia and Mueller are matters involving Trump in his personal capacity. I am not sure the president completely understands how these roles are segregated.”
The Russia portfolio has been handed over to Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, which has allowed McGahn to focus on his standard job duties.
“As far as Don goes, I don’t think his role has significantly changed,” said attorney Randy Evans, a friend to McGahn and former outside counsel to then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “There is a natural transition period, where you are figuring out where the turf lines are and there can be a little bit of overlap.”
Two sources told Politico that Trump’s displeasure with McGahn shows that he believes he was given poor legal advice before handing off the Russia probe to Kasowitz.
“I think Don has done a reasonable job as anyone could to keep things in perspective and to try to articulate to the president, ‘I can’t do the thing you’re suggesting. You have to let the process unfold,’” said the informal, frequent adviser.