How White House lawyer Don McGahn helped break the US election system


Top White House lawyer Don McGahn is parting ways with Donald Trump as so many people do—messily, and with bad feelings on both sides. But part of McGahn’s legacy has little to do with his erstwhile boss: Well before Trump, McGahn played a crucial role in weakening US protections against compromised elections.

McGahn’s pending departure was tweeted by the president this week, an apparent attempt to reclaim the narrative after unnamed sources publicized McGahn’s plans to quit. After the White House, the 50-year-old attorney is expected to slip back into private practice, continuing a decades-long career as a corporate lawyer and long-time counsel to the National Republican Congressional Committee, a career that was interrupted by just over six years in public service.

Before McGahn joined the Trump White House in January 2017—after serving as Trump’s campaign lawyer—he was appointed by George W. Bush to the Federal Election Commission from 2008 to 2013. “His entire tenure at the FEC was to decimate the ability of the commission to fulfill its job,” Ravel said. Adav Noti, the FEC’s former associate general counsel, said McGahn may have been the most influential FEC commissioner of the century.