McGahn rebuffed request to say Trump did not obstruct justice: reports

Former White House counsel Don McGahn reportedly rebuffed a request from the White House last month to affirm publicly that the president did not obstruct justice.

The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that McGahn was asked within days of the release last month of special counsel's Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment Trump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts MORE's report to declare that the president had not taken steps to impede or obstruct the federal Russia probe.

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But McGahn rebuffed those efforts, multiple sources told the Journal, saying the former counsel declined because he did not want to weigh in on the totality of the evidence uncovered by Mueller's probe beyond the testimony he had already given to the special counsel.

McGahn's lawyers told the news outlets Friday that the request from White House lawyers had not been perceived as a threat.

“We did not perceive it as any kind of threat or something sinister. It was a request, professionally and cordially made," said William Burck.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment Friday from The Hill on the reports.

News of the request comes as the House Judiciary Committee has been seeking to compel McGahn's testimony in the face of White House instructions for the former counsel to ignore the panel's requests for documents.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerJudiciary members battle over whether GOP treated fairly in impeachment hearings Live coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers MORE (D-N.Y.) said earlier this week in a letter to Burck that he would move to hold the former counsel in contempt of Congress if he doesn't comply with Nadler's demands for testimony.

“Mr. McGahn is required to appear and provide testimony before the Committee absent a court order authorizing non-compliance, as well as provide a privilege log for any documents withheld,” Nadler wrote. 

“Otherwise, the Committee will have no choice but to resort to contempt proceedings to ensure that it has access to the information it requires to fulfill its constitutionally mandated duties," he added.

Democrats have asserted that the president should face investigation and possible prosecution for obstruction of justice after Mueller wrote in his report that Justice Department policy prevented the agency from taking up prosecution of such allegations.

McGahn left the administration in 2018 after multiple news reports earlier that year revealed the president had asked him to shut down the Mueller investigation, only to back down when McGahn threatened to resign.