Don McGahn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Don McGahn
Don McGahn official photo.png
White House Counsel
Assumed office
January 20, 2017
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Neil Eggleston
Chairman of the Federal Election Commission
In office
July 10, 2008 – December 31, 2008
President George W. Bush
Succeeded by Steven T. Walther
Member of the Federal Election Commission
In office
July 9, 2008 – September 12, 2013
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded by David Mason
Succeeded by Lee E. Goodman
Personal details
Born Donald Francis McGahn II
(1968-06-16) June 16, 1968 (age 50)
Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Shannon McGahn
Children 2
Education University of Notre Dame (BA)
Widener University (JD)
Georgetown University (LLM)

Donald Francis McGahn II (born June 16, 1968) is an American lawyer and political figure. He is the current White House Counsel and Assistant to the President for U.S. President Donald Trump, serving since January 20, 2017, and was formerly a Commissioner of the United States Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Early life and education[edit]

McGahn grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the son of Noreen (Rogan) and Donald F. McGahn,[1] and attended Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Atlantic City and Holy Spirit High School in nearby Absecon.[2] He attended the United States Naval Academy,[3] then received a B.A. degree in history and computer applications from the University of Notre Dame in 1991. He obtained his J.D. degree from Widener University School of Law in 1994 followed by an LL.M. degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2002.[4]


After graduation from law school, McGahn worked in campaign finance law at the Washington, D.C. office of law firm Patton Boggs.[5] From 1999 to 2008, McGahn was chief counsel for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).[6]

George W. Bush nominated McGahn as a Republican-selected member of the Federal Election Commission in 2008. He was confirmed on June 24, 2008 by the United States Senate and was sworn in shortly thereafter. He is credited as having played a crucial role in loosening regulations on campaign spending.[7][8] McGahn resigned from the FEC in September 2013.[9]

After leaving the FEC, McGahn returned to the law firm Patton Boggs.[6] In 2014 he moved to the law firm of Jones Day in Washington, D.C.[7]

Trump 2016 campaign[edit]

McGahn served as Donald Trump's campaign counsel during his 2016 campaign for president.[6] McGahn managed all litigation involving Donald Trump's 2016 Presidential campaign. Early in 2016, he stopped efforts to keep Trump off of the Republican primary ballot in New Hampshire by going to court and winning to ensure ballot access in a key primary state.[10] McGahn also assembled and oversaw the legal team that helped defeat the NeverTrump movement at the 2016 Republican National Convention, both in the RNC Rules Committee and on the convention floor.[11] Several weeks before the election, lawsuits were filed in four battleground states alleging voter intimidation and seeking to enjoin the Trump campaign from having observers at polling locations.[12] McGahn successfully managed and won these litigations.[13]

Trump presidency[edit]

Shortly after Trump won the election, he named McGahn General Counsel of the Presidential Transition Team. On November 25, 2016, McGahn was named White House Counsel for the President-elect's new administration.[14][15]

McGahn personally recommended Trump nominate Neil Gorsuch to replace Antonin Scalia and Brett Kavanaugh to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Gorsuch's first official interview with Trump staff was on January 5, 2017 when McGahn met with him in Trump Tower. Trump and McGahn met with him on January 14, 2017. McGahn called Gorsuch on January 27, 2017 to tell him that he had been selected as the nominee.[16] Gorsuch was sworn in on Monday April 10, 2017.[17] McGahn also recommended the nomination of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. Acosta was sworn in on April 28, 2017.[18]

McGahn assembled a team of lawyers to oversee filling all judicial vacancies. Guided by McGahn's team, President Trump had already appointed ten appellate judges by November 11, 2017, the most that early in a presidency since Richard Nixon.[19]

According to the New York Times, McGahn conveyed instructions from President Trump to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, requesting Sessions not to recuse himself from overseeing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election.[20] McGahn was unaware that Sessions had already consulted with career attorneys at the Department of Justice. When Sessions informed him he had already decided to recuse himself, McGahn ceased further discussion of the topic.[21] In response to this, Walter Shaub, former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, said McGahn had "done much to undermine anticorruption mechanisms in this country." Shaub said, "It is a crime for a federal employee to participate in a particular matter in which he has a financial interest."[22]

In January 2018 The New York Times reported that in June, 2017, the president asked McGahn to instruct top Justice Department officials to dismiss special counsel Robert Mueller, and that McGahn refused, instead threatening to resign.[23][24]

The New York Times reported on August 18, 2018 that McGahn had been cooperating extensively with the Special Counsel investigation for several months and that he and his lawyer had become concerned that Trump "had decided to let Mr. McGahn take the fall for decisions that could be construed as obstruction of justice, like the Comey firing, by telling the special counsel that he was only following shoddy legal advice from Mr. McGahn.".[25]

Personal life[edit]

McGahn is married to Shannon McGahn, former Counselor to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.[26][27] They have two sons.[6]


  1. ^ "Jean Quinn Rogan Obituary", Citizens' Voice via, May 19, 2014.
  2. ^ DeRosier, John. "Atlantic City native embroiled in Trump/Flynn controversy ", The Press of Atlantic City, May 17, 2017. Accessed November 15, 2017. "McGahn, a longtime Republican campaign lawyer and former commissioner at the Federal Election Commission, grew up in Atlantic City, attending Our Lady Star of the Sea school and Holy Spirit High School, where he played football."
  3. ^ "Donald F. McGahn Bio". Federal Elections Commission. United States Government. 
  4. ^ "Georgetown Law Alumni in the News March 2017". Retrieved February 8, 2018. 
  5. ^ Mullins, Brody; Jacoby, Mary (October 29, 2008). "FEC Chairman McGahn Marches to His Own Tune". Wall Street Journal. 
  6. ^ a b c d Levine, Carrie (May 9, 2016). "Two very different Donalds, one White House goal". Center for Public Integrity. 
  7. ^ a b Terris, Ben (April 11, 2016). "Trump's own Beltway establishment guy: The curious journey of Don McGahn". The Washington Post. 
  8. ^ Roth, Zachary (March 23, 2016). "Trump's top lawyer helped open political spending floodgates". MSNBC. 
  9. ^ Wilson, Reid (September 17, 2013). "Former FEC chairman Donald McGahn resigns from panel". The Washington Post. 
  10. ^ Lichtblau, Eric (December 16, 2016). "In Donald McGahn, Donald Trump Gets a Combative White House Counsel". New York Times. 
  11. ^ Detrow, Scott (July 15, 2016). "'Never Trump Is Nevermore': Anti-Trump Forces Fail To Force RNC Floor Fight". NPR. 
  12. ^ Allegri, Carlo (October 21, 2016). "Trump Sued in 4 States for Voter Intimidation". Newsweek. 
  13. ^ de Vogue, Ariane (August 7, 2016). "Supreme Court won't restore court order against Trump over poll-watching in Ohio". CNN. 
  14. ^ Bender, Michael C.; Palazzolo, Joe (November 26, 2016). "Donald Trump Selects Donald McGahn as White House Counsel". Wall Street Journal. 
  15. ^ Cook, Nancy (February 21, 2017). "He's Going to Be an Enabler". Politico. 
  16. ^ Kim, Seung Min (February 26, 2017). "Gorsuch questionnaire reveals selection process details for SCOTUS nominee". Politico. 
  17. ^ Barnes, Robert; Parker, Ashley (April 10, 2017). "Neil M. Gorsuch sworn in as 113th Supreme Court justice". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved February 16, 2018. 
  18. ^ Cook, Nancy (May 6, 2017). "Trump's top lawyer faces a giant cleanup job". Politico. 
  19. ^ Savage, Charlie (November 11, 2017). "Trump Is Rapidly Reshaping the Judiciary. Here's How". New York Times. 
  20. ^ Schmidt, Michael S. (January 4, 2018). "Obstruction Inquiry Shows Trump's Struggle to Keep Grip on Russia Investigation". The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2018. President Trump gave firm instructions in March to the White House’s top lawyer: stop the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, from recusing himself in the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s associates had helped a Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election [...] But the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, carried out the president’s orders and lobbied Mr. Sessions to remain in charge of the inquiry, according to two people with knowledge of the episode. 
  21. ^ Schmidt, Michael S. (January 4, 2018). "Obstruction Inquiry Shows Trump's Struggle to Keep Grip on Russia Investigation". The New York Times. 
  22. ^ Diaz, Daniella (January 5, 2018). "Ex-ethics chief: White House counsel 'is a cancer'". CNN. 
  23. ^ Schmidt, Michael S.; Haberman, Maggie (January 25, 2018). "Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit". The New York Times. 
  24. ^ Schmidt, Michael S.; Haberman, Maggie (March 7, 2018). "Trump Asked Key Witnesses About Matters They Discussed With Special Counsel". The New York Times. 
  25. ^ "White House Counsel Has Cooperated Extensively With Mueller's Obstruction Inquiry". Retrieved 18 August 2018. 
  26. ^ "Secretary of the Treasury Announces Senior Staff". U.S. Department of the Treasury. U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Center. Retrieved March 3, 2017. 
  27. ^ Lane, Sylvan (January 5, 2018). "Treasury aide McGahn, wife of White House counsel, to leave for House panel". The Hill. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Neil Eggleston
White House Counsel
Political offices
Preceded by
David Mason
Member of the Federal Election Commission
Succeeded by
Lee E. Goodman