For the past several months, current White House Counsel Don McGahn and former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus have been represented by the same attorney in the Russia scandal. By definition that meant they were taking identical positions. Then earlier this month, Steve Bannon also hired the same attorney, meaning he was taking the same position. But what precisely were they up to? Now, thanks to the latest round of leaks, we have a much better understanding.
The picture wasn’t all that difficult to decipher, even before we got this week’s revelation that Trump tried and failed to fire Mueller last June. Priebus turned over his personal notes to Mueller last fall, meaning he’s cooperating. In turn that means McGahn must have begun cooperating at the same time, or their attorney would not have been allowed to continue representing them both. It also means that Bannon decided to cooperate with Mueller when he hired that attorney. But now we know how the three of them got there.
Trump ordered McGahn to fire Mueller back in June. McGahn instead went to Priebus and Bannon and told them he would resign rather than go through with the firing (link). They all agreed that Mueller shouldn’t be fired, and Trump backed down. So, at least as it’s now being reported, they were the three Trump advisers who collectively stood up to Trump on the Mueller firing issue.
This explains why Priebus and McGahn grabbed the same attorney once Robert Mueller tapped them on the shoulder last fall: they were both involved in the same obstruction of justice incident, they had taken the same side, and they had the same story to tell. The same was true of Bannon, once Mueller finally got around to him. It’s now more clear than ever that all three men have sold Trump out.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report