Trump Says McGahn Didn’t Stop Him From Firing Mueller or Sessions

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump disputed reports that outgoing White House counsel Don McGahn stopped him from firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

“I am very excited about the person who will be taking the place of Don McGahn,” Trump said on Twitter early Thursday, revealing for the first time that he’s settled on a replacement for McGahn. “I liked Don, but he was NOT responsible for me not firing Bob Mueller or Jeff Sessions.”

The New York Times reported earlier this year that Trump ordered McGahn to fire Mueller, who’s conducting a probe into Russian election meddling and potential collusion with the Trump campaign. McGahn refused the 2017 directive and threatened to resign at the time, according to the report, which cited anonymous sources.

On Wednesday, Trump said on Twitter that McGahn would step down after the Senate votes on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. While he praised McGahn for his service on Wednesday, Trump’s tweet Thursday uses the past tense -- “I liked Don,” Trump wrote.

McGahn met extensively with Mueller’s team, and is an important potential witness regarding whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired FBI Director James Comey.

He was also directed by Trump to try to stop Sessions from recusing himself from the investigation of Russia meddling into the 2016 election, said a person familiar with the situation. Sessions ultimately decided to follow the advice of ethics officials, who said he shouldn’t have any involvement in the investigation since he was a Trump campaign adviser.

Sessions has been a persistent target for Trump ever since the recusal, and the president’s ire toward the attorney general has recently ratcheted upward. The Washington Post reported this week that Trump has privately discussed firing Sessions but was persuaded against it by his attorneys. The report cited three people familiar with the discussions.

Trump said the Mueller probe, which the president has repeatedly branded a witch hunt, didn’t play into his decision that McGahn should leave.

“The Rigged Russia Witch Hunt did not come into play, even a little bit, with respect to my decision on Don McGahn!” Trump tweeted Thursday.

Trump also disputed reports that his daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who both work in the White House, were instrumental in orchestrating the attorney’s exit.

“Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner had NOTHING to do with the so called ‘pushing out’ of Don McGahn,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “The Fake News Media has it, purposely,so wrong! They love to portray chaos in the White House when they know that chaos doesn’t exist-just a ‘smooth running machine’ with changing parts!”

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