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Why Trump's choice for White House counsel matters

The lawyer Trump tapped to serve as White House counsel was "a lead lawyer for a key group in the Koch brothers' network."
Federal Election Commission (FEC) Commissioner Donald McGahn II testifies during a hearing, Nov. 3, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty)
Federal Election Commission (FEC) Commissioner Donald McGahn II testifies during a hearing, Nov. 3, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Donald Trump is facing an avalanche of conflict-of-interest troubles, but according to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who'll serve as Trump's chief of staff, there's nothing to worry about. The White House counsel's office, Priebus recently assured us, will "make sure" everything's kosher.It's not clear how, exactly, the counsel's office will serve as such a check, but Priebus' vow makes it all the more important to note who the president-elect has chosen for the job.

[Trump] has asked attorney Donald McGahn to serve as his White House counsel, a top transition source confirmed. The news was first reported by Reuters. McGahn, a partner at Jones Day, is Trump's campaign lawyer and is currently advising the transition effort.Politico has reported that McGahn, who has longstanding familial ties to the Trump organization and an "inside the Beltway" background as a former chairman of the FEC, may be tasked with putting distance between the president-elect and his myriad of business interests, which critics have argued could present unprecedented number of conflicts of interest and potential Constitutional crisis for the incoming administration.

If McGahn's name sounds at all familiar, it may be because he served as Tom DeLay's lawyer 10 years ago when the Texas Republican was caught up in a variety of scandals. He was also general counsel for the National Republican Congressional Committee for many years.But the part of McGahn's background that jumped out at me was this tidbit: McGahn was "a lead lawyer for a key group in the Koch brothers' network -- Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce -- before joining the Trump campaign. He's one of a growing number of people with ties to the Kochs to join Trump's administration."And that's probably the most interesting angle to all of this. A separate Politico piece explained:

Charles Koch once likened the contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to being asked to choose cancer or a heart attack.Now, Koch's allies are helping to launch Trump's administration, giving Charles and his brother David potential inroads with a president whose campaign they refused to support.

The Kochs arguably generated less attention than expected during the presidential race, but now that the election is over, the conservative billionaires are taking on renewed relevance: "From White House Counsel Don McGahn and transition team advisers Tom Pyle, Darin Selnick and Alan Cobb to inaugural committee member Diane Hendricks and transition-team executive committee members Rebekah Mercer and Anthony Scaramucci, Trump has surrounded himself with people tied to the Kochs."This doesn't include Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), Trump's choice to lead the CIA, who's been fairly characterized as the Koch brothers' "favorite congressman."Look for this to continue in the coming weeks and months. The Politico report added, "[A]ccording to Trump transition-team sources. Names being considered include Koch Industries lobbyist Brian Henneberry and former company spokesman Matt Lloyd, as well as Daniel Garza, who runs a Koch-backed non-profit called the LIBRE Initiative that courts Latinos, not to mention a handful of veterans of the Koch network's advocacy groups who worked on the Trump campaign -- from top Pence adviser Marc Short and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to ex-campaign aides Stuart Jolly, Eli Miller, Scott Hagerstrom, Charles Munoz and Matt Ciepielowski."