How the House Democrats are using Annie Donaldson to do an end run around Don McGahn

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn decided today that he’d rather have his life and reputation ripped apart by contempt of Congress consequences, than dare to face whatever illegal retaliation Donald Trump is holding over his head. Now that McGahn has decided to essentially enter fugitive status, House Democrats are moving on to Plan B- and it’s a fascinating one.

The House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas today to two people: former Trump White House senior adviser Hope Hicks, and Don McGahn’s former deputy Annie Donaldson. The former is getting the headlines, but the latter could produce the more crucial testimony. By all accounts, Donaldson witnessed just as many of Donald Trump’s obstruction of justice crimes as McGahn did. The question is whether she’s willing to go on television and spill the beans – or more to the point, whether she’s willing to have her life ruined by siding with Trump.

Donald Trump appears to be threatening to withhold millions of dollars of government and/or Republican Party business from McGahn’s law firm, thus explaining why McGahn is throwing away everything else in his life in order to remain in Trump’s good graces. But did it ever occur to Trump that the woman sitting next to McGahn was witnessing all the same obstruction crimes that McGahn was witnessing? Considering what a narcissistic sexist Trump is, perhaps not.

So now we’ll see if Annie Donaldson is willing to voluntarily testify, or if House Democrats will have to forcibly destroy her life as well. But if Donald Trump didn’t bother to plan ahead and put some kind of serious leverage in place over Donaldson, then he has a brewing problem on his hands.

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