House panel subpoenas former Trump White House Counsel

by Kim Boateng Posted on April 23rd, 2019

The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena Monday to President Donald Trump’s former White House counsel, Don McGahn, seeking testimony about the president’s efforts to thwart the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The subpoena, issued by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., follows revelations that McGahn had cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller, offering investigators detailed information about steps by the president to intercede in the investigation that shadowed the first two years of his administration.

The subpoena, which lists three dozen documents the committee is requesting from McGahn, is a sign that Democrats intend to use Mueller’s findings to probe deeper into the president’s actions starting from around the time he took office. Already, it has set off a contentious political fight in Congress, with the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee criticizing Democrats of rushing to issue a subpoena.

“The Special Counsel’s report, even in redacted form, outlines substantial evidence that President trump engaged in obstruction and other abuses,” Nadler said in a statement. “Mr. McGahn is a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct in the Mueller report. His testimony will help shed further light on the President’s attacks on the rule of law, and his attempts to cover up those actions by lying to the American people and requesting others do the same.”

According to Mueller’s report, revealed last week, the president ordered McGahn to have the special counsel removed in mid-2017. McGahn refused and later told another White House aide that the president asked him to “do crazy s—.” McGahn also told investigators that the president had asked him to deny having been asked to fire Mueller.

Trump called McGahn at home on June 17, 2017, after the media reported that Mueller was investigating the president for possible obstruction of justice, and said the special counsel had conflicts of interest and should be removed, Mueller’s inquiry found. McGahn didn’t carry out the instruction; instead, he packed up his office and wrote a letter of resignation rather than carry out what he thought could be another Saturday Night Massacre, a reference to former President Richard Nixon firing prosecutors during the Watergate investigation. Trump never followed through on his demand.

The episode was one of nearly a dozen that the special counsel investigated for possible obstruction. Mueller ultimately declined to determine whether Trump had committed a crime, saying it would be unfair to the president to accuse him, but pointedly declining to clear him of wrongdoing. Attorney General William Barr separately concluded that the evidence Mueller gathered did not prove a crime.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, criticized Nadler for issuing a subpoena prematurely.

Nadler’s subpoena lists 36 documents — emails, memos, statements, communications and meeting notes — concerning several former and current officials, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former FBI director James Comey, former attorney general Jeff Sessions, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others.

The subpoena asks McGahn to appear at a hearing on May 21.

McGahn’s testimony is scheduled about two weeks after Barr’s testimony before the committee on May 2. Nadler also said the committee has requested Mueller’s testimony by May 23.

Image: White House counsel Don McGahn (L) listens to President Donald J. Trump speak to the media before meeting with members of his administration in the Cabinet Room of the White House Washington, DC, USA 21 June 2018.

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