A previously-unreported anecdote about White House counsel Don McGahn's role in the lead-up to former FBI director James Comey's firing may further open the president up to obstruction of justice charges.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that early in the Trump administration, the president asked McGahn to convince a senior Justice Department official to "persuade the FBI director to announce that Trump was not personally under investigation in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election."
McGahn, the report noted, called Dana Boente who was then the acting deputy director of the FBI, though several of the Post's sources familiar with the conversation said the official didn't do it.
Responding to the Post's story, which served as background for an article on McGahn's curious role in the White House, former federal prosecutor and Illinois attorney general candidate Renato Mariotti noted on Twitter that the information could be used in special counsel Robert Mueller's obstruction of justice investigation on Trump firing Comey.
The brief aside, Mariotti wrote, "could be used by Mueller to show Trump's intense interest in his own liability."
1/ Trump told White House Counsel Don McGahn to call the Justice Department and ask them to "persuade" Comey to pub… https://t.co/NpBGnli45L— Renato Mariotti (@Renato Mariotti)1518642238.0
"Trump's request was highly inappropriate," the former prosecutor continued, noting that despite Boente's refusal, he "could be a witness in Mueller's obstruction investigation."
As The New York Times reported last month, Trump also asked McGahn to help him fire Mueller, and only backed down when the White House attorney refused to do so and threatened to quit.
Boente, Mariotti reminded, has since resigned from his role in the Justice Department and is currently the FBI general counsel, further complicating his role in the investigation.
"Why did he resign from the DOJ?" he mused. "Has he recused himself from the Russia investigation?"
3/ This may focus more attention on Boente's moves since that time. Why did he resign from the DOJ? As current FB… https://t.co/uEtx3tTwoi— Renato Mariotti (@Renato Mariotti)1518642239.0
Boente, Raw Story reported last month, has been an integral part of the Trump administration. After then-acting attorney general Sally Yates refused to enforce the president's Muslim-majority country travel ban, Boente volunteered to do so, and has since served in another four positions that impacted the Russia investigation.