On Saturday, the New York Times published an expose on how White House Counsel and former Trump campaign counsel Don McGahn has been cooperating with the Mueller investigation and has given thirty hours of interviews. Yet, instead of being praised for his cooperation and transparency, Mr. McGahn's character is being attacked by the "Gray Lady" in its ongoing efforts to undermine President Trump.
The Wall Street Journal's editorial board responded, pointing out that Mr. McGahn could have only cooperated with President Trump's permission:
The thesis of the New York Times story is that Mr. McGahn cooperated in a way that could hurt Donald Trump in order to protect himself and because he doesn’t trust the President. This fits the media narrative that Mr. Trump is covering up his collusion with Russia and his obstruction of justice, and thus Mr. McGahn must be scrambling to save himself.
Yet lost in the resulting tempest is a crucial fact that appears to contradict this spin: Mr. Trump had to waive executive privilege for Mr. McGahn to cooperate with Mr. Mueller. . . . But as White House counsel Mr. McGahn represents the Presidency. He is a careful enough lawyer to advise Mr. Trump that agreeing to answer Mr. Mueller’s questions would waive executive privilege. And the Times reports that Mr. McGahn’s attorney, William Burck, said on the record that Mr. McGahn cooperated only after Mr. Trump waived any privilege claim.
Executive privilege is held by the chief executive - the President - and as with other legal privileges, only the holder of the privilege can waive it. Unlike President Clinton when investigated by Ken Starr or President Obama's administration when investigated by Congress, President Trump has nothing to hide and is cooperating with the Mueller investigation, despite its problems and failure to return any evidence of wrongdoing by the President or his campaign after over a year of investigation:
This isn’t what you’d expect if Mr. Trump is leading a coverup. . . . Yet when Mr. Trump doesn’t invoke privilege for his White House counsel, he gets no credit. . . . Keep in mind that Mr. Trump’s lawyers cooperated extensively with Mr. Mueller for months, turning over tens of thousands of documents—also without claiming executive privilege.
The Wall Street Journal's editorial board pointed to the heart of the problem in the Times' misleading report - the effort to portray the Trump White House as fractured. Mr. McGahn has been loyal to the Presidentthroughout his cooperation with the Mueller investigation:
Mr. McGahn has been one of the President’s most effective advisers—notably on judicial nominations. But some in and outside the White House resent his influence and might want to portray him as undermining Mr. Trump. The bottom line is that readers should remain skeptical about what is reported about Mr. Mueller’s probe, waiting to see the evidence he actually produces.
To see the double standard here, one must only imagine what the news stories would be were the political parties reversed. The mainstream media would lament the waste of taxpayer dollars spent on a lengthy, unnecessary investigation by the Republicans and either applaud a Democratic administration for cooperating with it for the good of the country or defend the administration for not cooperating.