Slate: The Enabler in Chief


At least on a personal level, the alliance makes sense. Trump and McGahn seem to share an appetite for showmanship and provocation. Where the president enjoys performing in front of crowds—both adoring and hostile ones—his White House lawyer used to enjoy a mild notoriety in Washington for sporting shoulder-length hair, wearing jeans to the office, and playing guitar in a bar band. (In the Wall Street Journal, he was captured onstage playing the opening riff to “Paradise City” while wearing a shirt that says “Not Now, I’m Busy.”) Profiles of McGahn have tended to use the word iconoclast. When I spoke to David Kolker, the former FEC lawyer, he twice used the phrase “libertarian bad boy.”

“He’s just generally opposed to government regulation,” said Larry Noble, who served as general counsel of the FEC for 13 years. Given McGahn’s distaste for rules, Noble said, it’s hard to see him embracing the part of the job that involves teaching the president and the White House staff about ethics. “I think he brings to the White House a philosophy that these rules are unimportant,” Noble said.

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