Notes taken by a Trump loyalist in the White House gave special counsel Robert Mueller important insights into how the White House’s own lawyers worried that he was obstructing justice.
The Washington Post reports that Annie Donaldson, who served as former White House counsel Don McGahn’s chief of staff, took copious notes of her boss’s interactions with the president and they showed how McGahn frequently had to stop the president from taking actions he believed could lead to obstruction of justice charges.
For example, reports the Post, at one point “McGahn warned the president that some of the actions he took — such as asking Comey to let go of his investigation of Flynn — could make him vulnerable to accusations of obstruction of justice.”
The notes also indicate that White House lawyers were very fearful of the fallout that would happen if Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, especially given the fact that the FBI at the time was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Bob Bauer, who served as White House counsel to former President Barack Obama, tells the Post that he’s never seen White House attorneys have to take such extraordinary actions to rein in a president.
“It is impossible to imagine that these extensive notes were taken for any reason other than to document questionable presidential conduct and the counsel’s office response,” he said. “It speaks volumes to the extraordinary challenges facing lawyers in this White House, and it raises the question: If this is what is necessary for lawyers to do their job, then how is it a job the lawyers should agree to do?”