Washington insider the new White House counsel

WASHINGTON • President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Washington insider Donald McGahn to be his White House counsel, giving him the job of untangling any potential conflicts of interest presented by the New York businessman's presidency.

Mr McGahn, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), had been the chief counsel of the Trump campaign and was one of the few members of the Republican establishment to embrace the outsider candidate.

Even though Mr Trump, during his campaign, frequently promised to "drain the swamp" of the political establishment in Washington, he still chose Mr McGahn, who has an extensive history in the capital, especially in conservative politics.

Mr McGahn served for years as counsel to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the arm of the Republican Party that oversees campaigns for the US House of Representatives.

During his time at the FEC, Mr McGahn was an advocate for loosening restrictions on campaign spending and was widely praised for opening up more of the commission's internal processes to the public.

Along with providing guidance on ethics issues, the White House Counsel's office advises the president on the legality of proposed executive orders and legislation passed by Congress and vets potential administration appointees, including Supreme Court justices.

"Don has a brilliant legal mind, excellent character and a deep understanding of constitutional law," Mr Trump said in a statement on Friday.

Mr Trump, who has never held public office, has real estate and leisure holdings all over the world, sparking concerns that his investments could colour his decision-making in office.

Mr Trump has said that he will hand over day-to-day responsibilities of running his company to his children, but he has resisted calls to place his assets in a blind trust.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 27, 2016, with the headline 'Washington insider the new White House counsel'. Print Edition | Subscribe