McGahn has offered detailed accounts of “episodes at the heart of the inquiry” over whether Trump and his aides sought to obstruct justice, the Times reported, motivated in part by the fear the president might set him up to be held responsible.
The president suggested that McGahn had his full support to talk with Mueller.
Trump emphasized he has authorized his aides to cooperate with Mueller. The president’s initial legal team had believed that strategy could bring a quick end to the probe. “I have nothing to hide,” Trump wrote in one tweet.
But the Times reported that McGahn was caught off guard by that decision and developed his own strategy to protect his own legal liability and demonstrate he had done nothing wrong.
“It is not clear that Mr. Trump appreciates the extent to which Mr. McGahn has cooperated with the special counsel,” the Times reported. “The president wrongly believed that Mr. McGahn would act as a personal lawyer would for clients and solely defend his interests to investigators, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking.”
Trump compared Mueller's investigation to the tactics employed by the late senator Joseph McCarthy, who alleged that communist agents and Soviet spies had infiltrated the U.S. government, accusing some of treason without evidence. Some of Trump's critics have suggested it is the president, who last week stripped the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan and has vowed to pursue similar actions against a list of other critics, is the one who is acting like McCarthy.
The president is spending the weekend at his resort here in Bedminster. He is due back in Washington on Sunday evening.