Don McGahn: White House directs former lawyer not to testify

Don McGahn: White House directs former lawyer not to testify

Don McGahn: White House directs former lawyer not to testify

McGahn is now barred from talking to Congress, the White House says. "Accordingly, Mr. McGahn is not legally required to appear and testify about matters related to his official duties as Counsel to the President".

That response on Monday to a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee escalated an ongoing political standoff with Democrats over information related to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

In the short term, the effect of Trump's and Barr's decisions is to stop House Democrats from getting more grist for investigations built to follow up or build upon that completed by Mueller.

The special counsel's two-year investigation did not determine that Mr Trump conspired with alleged Russian Federation attempts to sway the 2016 United States presidential election, but listed 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice by the president.

McGahn, the former White House counsel, is one of a number of former/current Trump administration officials that a number of House committees want to speak with. The White House has informed the House Judiciary Committee that McGahn will not be showing up Tuesday, when he had been subpoenaed and scheduled to testify.

If McGahn were to defy Trump and testify, it could endanger his own career in Republican politics and put his law firm, Jones Day, in the president's crosshairs.

The OLC memo from 2014 that Trump cites in his refusal was originally written in response to the Obama administration's attempts to keep David Simas, political director to Obama, from having to comply with a House Oversight subpoena.

"The immunity of the President's immediate advisers from compelled congressional testimony on matters related to their official responsibilities has always been recognized and arises from the fundamental workings of the separation of powers", the department's opinion reads.

Trump has fumed about McGahn for months, after it became clear that much of Mueller's report was based on his testimony.

Independent journalist Judd Legum said the order from the White House was a "pivotal moment" in the ongoing battle between the president and House Democrats.

According to the DOJ memo (pdf), authored by the Office of Legal Counsel, "Congress may not constitutionally compel the President's senior advisers to testify about their official duties".

A federal judge rejected a similar argument in 2008 in a dispute over a subpoena for Harriet Miers, who was White House counsel to George W. Bush.

Judiciary committee chairman Jerrold Nadler said last week that he was prepared to have his panel hold a contempt vote for Mr McGahn if he ignored the subpoena issued to him last month. "The immunity of the President's immediate advisors from compelled congressional testimony on matters related to their official responsibilities has always been recognized and arises from the fundamental workings of the separation of powers".

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