President Donald Trump's top lawyer in the White House has a history of shaking things up at the Federal Election Commission and a pattern of behavior at the agency that raised eyebrows within its ranks.
An in-depth Politico report shows that Don McGahn joined the FEC in 2008 as a campaign finance lawyer. When he became commissioner, he reportedly used his position of power to belittle staff members and criticize Democrats at the agency — which led to a decease in communication between staffers affiliated with both political parties.
Politico reports that under McGahn's guidance, the FEC dished out fewer fines and disciplinary actions. During that time, groups with special exemptions and super PACs operated on both sides of the political aisle.
"It was pretty clear what he thought of the agency — that he did not believe it should exist," a former FEC staffer told Politico.
Politico claims that during his time at the FEC, McGahn seemed to rule in favor of Republicans in regards to potential campaign finance infractions.
According to one survey, the FEC ranks at the bottom of the best small government agencies to work.
Trump tapped McGahn to serve as campaign counsel leading up to last year's presidential election. After Trump won, he asked McGahn to serve as White House counsel. In that role, he has worked with the president and his aides on drafting the executive orders Trump has signed in the weeks since he was sworn in.
A former FEC official told Politico McGahn's power at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue might be cause for concern.
"McGahn will embolden Trump," the official said. "He is not going to be a truth teller. He's going to be an enabler."
A New York Times profile of McGahn last year surmised that he will have a lot of power in Trump's inner circle.
Robert Bauer, who served as White House counsel under former President Barack Obama, told the Times, "Don is very smart, he's very combative, and he's very dogged."
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