Published 9:51 PM EDT Oct 17, 2018
WASHINGTON - Don McGahn officially left his role as White House counsel on Wednesday, leaving behind a legacy that helped the president reshape the nation's courts
McGahn, whose resignation was announced in August, left the White House officially on Wednesday after nearly two years of helping President Donald Trump get through his conservative agenda, an official with knowledge of the matter told USA TODAY. The New York Times first reported Wednesday was McGahn's last day.
The president told the Associated Press on Tuesday that attorney Pat Cipollone would replace McGahn as the White House counsel.
McGahn's legacy in the White House is a mixed bag of both helping protect the president's conservative agenda and preventing worsening scandals inside the administration. He helped pad deregulations at the Environmental Protection Agency and had his hands in the legal debate of the president's so-called Muslim travel ban.
But above all, McGahn's legacy might be most tied to helping the Trump administration reshape the judiciary. He helped the administration nominate several conservative judges to federal courts across the nation.
He concluded his White House tenure with one final successful mission: guiding Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Republican leaders, such as Sen. Chuck Grassley who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have hailed McGahn's work.
McConnell said McGahn leaving was a "big loss" and said he was the "most impressive White House counsel during my time in Washington, and I’ve known them all."
McGahn had extraordinary access to President Donald Trump during some of his most controversial dealings and decisions, including his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. He also helped represent Trump during the beginning of the Russia investigation and while on Trump's presidential campaign.
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McGahn was gifted with extraordinary access to the president and became a somewhat controversial figure after reports surfaced indicating McGahn had cooperated heavily with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The news of his departure surfaced just days after the reports of his cooperation with the probe. Trump told reporters McGahn leaving had nothing to do with the investigation and instead said he urged McGahn to cooperate.
McGahn's interviews with investigators spanned about 30 hours in total, a person familiar with McGahn’s contact with the special counsel’s office told USA TODAY.
The source did not elaborate on the contents of his discussions with Mueller’s team, but The New York Times said McGahn took Mueller's team through Trump's comments and actions in some of the most controversial topics that have surrounded the White House.
McGahn reportedly told investigators what he knew about the president's role in the firing of Comey, Trump's repeated criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his role in the Russia investigation before the president hired outside counsel to deal with the matter, The Times reported, citing a dozen anonymous sources.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson