Jack Goldsmith on Don McGahn and the Flynn Fiasco


It is possible, as I said in my original piece on McGahn, that the many White House screw-ups outlined above are less a result of McGahn’s incompetence and more a result of his lack of access to the President.  If that is so, then the blame is partly the Chief of Staff’s, and McGahn needs to insist that the problem be fixed or resign.  I doubt this is the problem, however, since McGahn was Trump’s campaign lawyer and by all accounts remains a close senior advisor.  A related problem may be that Trump is simply a rogue elephant whom no chains can bind, and that McGahn is giving Trump appropriate advice that is having no impact on his behavior.  I doubt that is a full explanation either, since (among other reasons) many of the problems outlined above cannot have been a result of Trump’s intransigence.

It thus appears that the problems noted above are less about access or influence, and more about McGahn’s substance and style.  McGahn is  reportedly “an iconoclast bent on shaking things up.”  Unfortunately for the President, that is not an attractive quality in a White House Counsel, whose main job is to ensure that the President and the White House steer clear of legal and ethical and related political problems.



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