White House Counsel Donald McGahn, who has led the Trump administration’s efforts to reshape the judiciary while confronting turmoil in the West Wing surrounding the ongoing special counsel probe, has decided to leave the White House, President Trump announced on Wednesday.
“White House Counsel Don McGahn will be leaving his position in the fall, shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I have worked with Don for a long time and truly appreciate his service!”
The exit of McGahn — a low-key, 50-year-old lawyer who has been a presence at Trump’s side since the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign — comes at a fragile moment inside the White House as tensions between the president and the Department of Justice have escalated in recent weeks.
McGahn, who counts deep ties within Washington’s legal community, has long functioned as Trump’s liaison to Justice officials and frequently played the informal role of peacemaker as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team have pursued interviews and documents from White House officials as part of their investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential campaign.
McGahn’s coming departure is widely seen within Trump’s circle as the culmination of frustrations that have come with each new crisis that he has been forced to handle since Trump took office, from a scandal over then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s disclosure of contacts with Russian officials to the many times the president has lashed out about Mueller’s probe.
Still, McGahn has often expressed a sense of accomplishment to allies despite the controversies and turbulence, pointing in particular to his efforts last year around the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and other judicial nominees later approved by the Republican-controlled Senate, as well as his work to curb federal regulations, as evidence of conservative success.