Trump Attacks New York Times Report on Don McGahn’s Cooperation With Mueller

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J. — President Trump attacked The New York Times on Sunday in a series of tweets in which he denounced a report describing the extensive cooperation between the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, and the special counsel’s investigators.

In the Twitter posts, the president confirmed that he had made the unusual decision to allow Mr. McGahn and other officials to cooperate fully with the inquiry, saying he had “nothing to hide.” But Mr. Trump said the Times article had falsely insinuated that Mr. McGahn had “turned” on him.

“The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type ‘RAT,’” Mr. Trump said, referring to the Nixon White House counsel who cooperated with investigators in the Watergate investigation.

In a statement, The Times’s communications department said the paper stood by the report and the reporters who wrote it, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman. In one of his tweets, Mr. Trump called them “two Fake reporters.”

The article detailed how Mr. McGahn, fearing that he could be made a scapegoat by the president, has described Mr. Trump’s actions and anger toward the Russia inquiry in at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled about 30 hours. In those interviews, Mr. McGahn gave the investigators information that they might not otherwise have gotten, according to a dozen current and former White House officials and others.

[Read the article here.]

The report said the president had wrongly believed that Mr. McGahn would act as his personal lawyer and solely defend his interests to investigators. But Mr. McGahn has viewed his role as a protector of the presidency, not of Mr. Trump, and people close to the president now believe it was a mistake to have cooperated so fully with the special counsel.

Mr. McGahn, the article said, gave investigators a mix of information both potentially damaging and favorable to the president, and he cautioned to investigators that he never saw Mr. Trump go beyond what he viewed as the president’s legal authorities.

Mr. Trump used his tweets on Sunday morning, which he wrote from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., to intensify his assault on the special counsel investigation.

He called the inquiry “McCarthyism at its WORST!” — a reference to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s persecution of suspected communist sympathizers in the 1950s.

“Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby!” Mr. Trump said of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and his federal prosecutors. “Rigged Witch Hunt!”

It was the first time the president has equated the investigation to McCarthyism on Twitter. But he had drawn an analogy to the communist witch hunt once before — when he falsely claimed that President Barack Obama had tapped his phones in Trump Tower.