White House counsel Don McGahn leaves post

Shannon Pettypiece
Bloomberg News

White House Counsel Don McGahn has left the Trump administration after a tumultuous tenure marked by questions over his handling of security clearances and his involvement as a key figure in investigations into Russian election meddling.

McGahn’s last day was Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Despite the turmoil, McGahn had great success in getting President Donald Trump’s judicial choices through the Senate.

He led the process that put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. He then oversaw the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, which ran into difficulty after three women accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct decades ago.

“I’ve known every White House counsel since I arrived in Washington,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said Thursday in a statement. “Don is a cut above. He concludes his tenure not only as the best White House counsel I’ve seen on the job, but more broadly, as one of the most successful and consequential aides to any president in recent memory.”

Trump announced in August that McGahn would leave his post in the fall after the U.S. Senate voted on the Kavanaugh confirmation. He has selected Pat Cipollone, a Washington lawyer who worked under President George H. W. Bush at the Justice Department, to replace McGahn.

During his time as White House counsel, McGahn repeatedly butted heads with Trump and occupied a position rife with potential conflicts. He was interviewed on at least two occasions by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team in its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

McGahn also came under fire for his office’s handling of the security clearance for former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who was accused of domestic abuse by two ex-wives.

McGahn fell out of favor with Trump in May 2017 over his handling of Mueller’s appointment and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia inquiry, a person familiar with the situation said. Since then, McGahn and Trump had a tense relationship and spoke infrequently, according to the person.