Grassley Tweet on Don McGahn Sows Confusion

Senate Judiciary chairman concerned about White House counsel’s coming departure

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, has a message for President Trump on White House Counsel Don McGahn’s planned departure: “U can't let that happen.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 1:05 p.m. | Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley’s Twitter style made some news Wednesday after he appeared to warn President Donald Trump to keep Don McGahn as the top White House lawyer. Nothing to see here, though, according to a top spokesman for the Iowa Republican.

Trump announced Wednesday that McGahn would leave his White House post this fall, but after the expected confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Grassley reacted to the announcement with his own tweet, expressing concern with the coming departure of an attorney who has urged the president to fully cooperate with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia election meddling probe.

[White House Counsel Don McGahn to Leave Post]

“I hope it’s not true McGahn is leaving [as] WhiteHouse Counsel,” the Iowa Republican tweeted, telling Trump: “U can’t let that happen”

So was it a warning? Not according to Taylor Foy, a Senate Judiciary spokesman, who said people were making too much of the tweet and that the senator was simply lamenting McGahn’s move. 

“Senator Grassley has appreciated Mr. McGahn’s work over the last two years and has considered him integral to the President’s record-breaking success on filling judicial vacancies. From Senator Grassley’s perspective, there’s not been any White House Counsel who has worked so well and so efficiently with the chairman’s office and the Senate Judiciary Committee on judges,” Foy said.

Judiciary Committee Republicans have joined their Democratic colleagues in urging the president to avoid any moves that would be seen as him moving to directly interfere with or end the special counsel probe.

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Many Republican lawmakers view McGahn and others around the president as barriers preventing Trump from firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller, his entire team, and any other Justice Department official the president views as out to get him via the Russia probe.

A White House spokesman declined to comment, saying, “I haven’t seen the tweet.”

McGahn once rejected a Trump order to fire Mueller, threatening to quit if the president did so.

Minutes after Grassley’s warning, however, the president fired off another tweet, again referring to Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt.”

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Todd Ruger contributed to this report.

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