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The testimony of former Trump administration official Don McGahn was made public on Wednesday, days after the former White House lawyer and key witness in the Russia inquiry testified before a session behind closed doors of Congress.
While McGahn’s testimony before the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee significantly altered much of what was already known to the public, McGahn’s remarks revealed how pressured he felt to commit wrongdoing. by former President Donald Trump.
McGahn said he was particularly uncomfortable with Trump’s repeated demands that McGahn facilitate the sacking of Special Advisor Robert Mueller, who had been tasked with investigating possible links between Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russia.
“After I picked up the phone with the president, how did I feel? Oof. Frustrated, confused, trapped. Lots of emotions,” McGahn said of one phone call in particular, according to an official transcript from the ‘hearing.
McGahn described a situation he said could “get out of hand” and reach “a point of no return” if he pressured Trump to call Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over Mueller.
“If the acting attorney general received what he believed to be an instruction from the president’s counsel to remove a special advocate, he would either have to remove the special advocate or resign,” McGahn said.
“We’re still talking about the ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ decades and decades later,” he continued, referring to the layoffs and resignations during the Watergate scandal under disgraced former President Richard Nixon.
McGahn’s remarks to the panel come after a two-year legal battle to obtain his testimony about Trump’s actions in the Russian inquiry and inquiry into a potential obstruction of justice. The House Judiciary Committee first subpoenaed him to testify and then in 2019, but the Trump White House barred McGahn from speaking to the panel, arguing that McGahn’s status in the administration granted him immunity from testify before Congress.
The dispute was settled last month. The private session, which none of the press was aware of and Congressional staff not on the committee, was agreed to after negotiations between McGahn’s lawyers, the committee and Biden’s Justice Department .
“Mr. McGahn provided the committee with substantial new information, including first-hand testimony about President Trump’s increasingly uncontrollable behavior and insight into concerns that the former president’s conduct could expose Trump and McGahn to criminal liability, ”said committee chair Jerry Nadler, DN .Y., said in a statement.
“All in all, Mr. McGahn’s testimony gives us a new look at how dangerously close President Trump has brought us, in Mr. McGahn’s words, to ‘the point of no return’.”
Republicans, who have largely maintained their allegiance to Trump, have denied that the testimony broke new ground.
“Unsurprisingly, Democrats failed to uncover substantial new information that had not already been disclosed in the special adviser’s report,” Republican committee staff said in an open letter to the panel. “As a result, Democrats have spent hours asking McGahn for his reaction to a number of hypothetical and theoretical questions in a relentless effort to raise a basis for wrongdoing.”