A decision with limited immediate consequences could have more impact over the long run in elevating the role of the president’s lawyers in future conflicts with Congress.
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The aggressive letter from the White House counsel to Congress, announcing that the president will not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, is further evidence of the deterioration of norms in the conduct of senior government positions.
Rules and Norms in the Trump Presidency: The Risks and Rewards of ‘Playing It Straight’ on the Inside
James Comey famously does things his own way, and the Department of Justice inspector general has not approved. Having criticized the former FBI director’s handling of the Clinton email investigation, the inspector general most recently upbraided him for his use of “sensitive investigative information” in sounding an alarm about Donald Trump.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler questioning the validity of the committee's investigation into, as the committee stated, "alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses of power by President Trump, his associates, and members of his Administration." Cipollone stated that the White House "[does] not believe the investigation ...
The release of the redacted Mueller report focused the spotlight squarely on former White House Counsel Don McGahn, whose testimony to the special counsel featured prominently in the report’s discussion of obstruction of justice. Indeed, the first questions to Attorney General William Barr from Sen.
On March 4, the chairmen of the House committees on Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform sent a request to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney for information regarding a Washington Post report that President Trump sought to conceal notes of interpreters and linguists following meetings with Russian Presi
Congress and the courts will soon have the opportunity to respond to Donald Trump’s declaration that Congress’s failure to fund his wall at the level he demanded has resulted in a “national emergency” at the southern border. I and others have written about the weakness of the legal basis for this declaration.
Former White House Counsel Donald McGahn had his work cut out for him as legal adviser to this particular president, and his successor, Pat A. Cipollone, cannot expect an easier time. Among the looming challenges: whatever comes of special counsel Mueller’s investigation and, if the Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives, the potential institution of impeachment proceedings.
As Don McGahn prepares to leave his post as White House counsel some time this fall, it is not too early to take preliminary stock of his tenure. There is no one-size-fits-all model for the job, no standard measure for judging success. Each president chooses counsel as he or she pleases and for whatever role the particular chief executive has determined is required.
Last month, Lawfare and Foreign Policy hosted an event on lawyering for the Trump presidency. Susan Hennessey spoke with former White House Counsels Bob Bauer, who served in the Obama administration from 2010 to 2011, and A.B. Culvahouse, who served in the Reagan administration from 1987 to 1989, in a lively discussion on providing legal support when your client is the president.