Don McGahn, White House counsel, speaks during a discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Flood Replaces McGahn as Trump Changes White House's Top Lawyer

(Bloomberg) -- Lawyer Emmet Flood was temporarily named White House counsel after Don McGahn left the administration on Wednesday, while President Donald Trump awaits McGahn’s longer-term replacement.

“Mr. Flood will serve in the role until Pat Cipollone comes on board as counsel to the president, at which time Mr. Flood will return to being special counsel to the president,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “President Trump has a great deal of respect for both individuals and is glad to have them on his team.”

Flood has been assisting the White House with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Flood Replaces McGahn as Trump Changes White House's Top Lawyer

While McGahn had great success in getting President Donald Trump’s judicial choices through the Senate, the outgoing counsel was a key figure in Mueller’s probe and also took some blame for the White House’s botched handling of security clearances.

McGahn led the process that put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. He then oversaw the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, which ran into difficulty after three women accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct decades ago.

“I’ve known every White House counsel since I arrived in Washington,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said Thursday in a statement. “Don is a cut above. He concludes his tenure not only as the best White House counsel I’ve seen on the job, but more broadly, as one of the most successful and consequential aides to any president in recent memory.”

Trump announced in August that McGahn would leave his post in the fall after the U.S. Senate voted on the Kavanaugh confirmation. He has Cipollone, a Washington lawyer who worked under President George H. W. Bush at the Justice Department, to replace McGahn.

During his time as White House counsel, McGahn repeatedly butted heads with Trump and occupied a position rife with potential conflicts. He was interviewed on at least two occasions by Mueller’s team in its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

McGahn also came under fire for his office’s handling of the security clearance for former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who was accused of domestic abuse by two ex-wives.

McGahn fell out of favor with Trump in May 2017 over his handling of Mueller’s appointment and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia inquiry, a person familiar with the situation said. Since then, McGahn and Trump had a tense relationship and spoke infrequently, according to the person.

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