Former White House counsel Don McGahn rebuffed a request from the White House to deny that President Donald Trump obstructed justice.
"Within a day of the release of the Mueller report last month, President Trump sought to have former White House counsel Don McGahn declare he didn’t consider the president’s 2017 directive that he seek Robert Mueller’s dismissal to be obstruction of justice, but Mr. McGahn rebuffed the request, according to people familiar with the matter," a report from The Wall Street Journal explains.
The report went on to explain that Trump had publicly rebuked McGahn, but was working privately behind the scenes to get McGahn to say he did not obstruct justice. In addition The White House requested that action from McGahn twice in the last month.
"Mr. Trump has publicly denied asking Mr. McGahn to fire the Russia probe special counsel since the release of the report. Mr. Mueller’s report detailed that request, and a subsequent request by Mr. Trump that Mr. McGahn denies that conversation ever happened, and said that Mr. McGahn rebuffed both," the Journal reported.
Adding, "Privately, Mr. Trump asked White House special counsel Emmet Flood to inquire whether Mr. McGahn would release a statement asserting that he didn’t believe the president’s request."
McGahn's team did not view the request as a "threat."
“We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister. It was a request, professionally and cordially made," William Burck, a lawyer for Mr. McGahn, said in a statement.
McGahn denied the request for multiple reasons.
"Mr. McGahn turned down the request because he didn’t want to weigh in on the totality of the evidence in the report beyond his own testimony, and didn’t want to comment on his own testimony in isolation," the report concluded.