Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Robert Mueller's team has been working "extensively" with White House counsel Don McGahn, the New York Times reports as he shares "detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart" of the special counsel's investigation.

Why it matters: It's unusual for a lawyer to be so open with investigators probing matters regarding his client, the Times' Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt point out. Trump's legal team has "explained that they believe their client had nothing to hide and that they could bring the investigation to an end quickly." McGahn has met with Mueller's team for at least three voluntary interviews totaling 30 hours over nine months, the NYT reports.

The big picture: McGahn and his lawyer, William Burck, "devised their own strategy" to cooperate with Mueller as a safe-guard, the Times reports. Because Trump was "so willing" to let McGahn speak with Mueller's team, they feared that Trump "was setting up Mr. McGahn to take the blame for any possible illegal acts of obstruction."

  • Full cooperation with Mueller was seen as "the only choice he had to protect himself."
  • The White House did not exert attorney-client privilege — which would have allowed the president to withhold some information — meaning that McGahn has had to answer Mueller's questions in full.

McGahn and Burck met with Mueller's team for the first time in November. Per the Times, McGahn "was a fruitful witness" because of his involvement in so many events being questioned by the special counsel.

  • He told the special counsel of Trump's "mind-set" in the days leading up to his firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
  • He spoke to them about the White House's handling of the firing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
  • He also told Mueller's team about Trump's relationship with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he "tried to get him to assert control over the investigation."

A deputy independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation, Solomon Wisenburg, told the Times: "A prosecutor would kill for that. ... [I]t would have been phenomenally helpful to us. It would have been like have the keys to the kingdom."

The president responded to the report claiming the White House "readily gave over one million pages of documents. Most transparent in history."

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Liberty University's Jerry Falwell Jr. agrees to “indefinite leave of absence”

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. in 2019. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Jerry Falwell Jr. will take an “indefinite leave of absence” from his roles as president and chancellor of Liberty University after posting a photo of himself with unzipped pants and an arm around a woman on social media, according to the school.

The state of play: The picture, which has since been deleted, drew backlash and charges of hypocrisy from conservative political figures because the university's honor code strictly prohibits students from having "sexual relations outside of a biblically-ordained marriage," and recommends they dress with“appropriateness” and “modesty."

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 19,189,737 — Total deaths: 716,669 — Total recoveries — 11,610,192Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 4,917,050 — Total deaths: 160,702 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: White House recommends Trump issue executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus.
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

White House recommends Trump issue executive orders on coronavirus aid

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (L) and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speak to the media on Capitol Hill. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Trump should sign executive orders unilaterally addressing coronavirus stimulus spending after negotiations with congressional Democrats stalled again on Friday.

Why it matters: Friday was viewed as a self-imposed deadline to negotiate a new relief bill. But after an intense week of negotiations on Capitol Hill, White House and Democratic leadership failed to reach a deal on delivering much needed aid to Americans and businesses.