Judge questions whether Don McGahn is immune from testifying in front of House

Judge questions whether Don McGahn is immune from testifying in front of House
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A federal judge was skeptical of the Justice Department's argument Thursday that White House counsel Don McGahn enjoys absolute immunity from congressional testimony.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson repeatedly questioned why McGahn should be immune from testifying before the House Judiciary Committee.

Earlier this year, House Democrats subpoenaed McGahn to testify about allegations against President TrumpDonald John TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg MORE, claiming he obstructed former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE from conducting an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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The Justice Department on Thursday argued House Democrats had no right to force McGahn to testify and suggested the courts did not have the power to determine which officials were immune from testimony.

The judge, an Obama appointee, fired back, saying she didn't believe the president has the authority to determine immunity.

“That doesn’t seem to me to be in the purview of the executive," Jackson said.

Lawyers for congressional Democrats argued Thursday that McGahn's role in the investigation headed by Mueller into obstruction of justice was "relevant and important to the impeachment inquiry,” though the inquiry primarily focuses on Trump's efforts to persuade Ukraine's president to investigate the Democratic National Committee and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters George Conway: Witness missing from impeachment trial is Trump MORE, a front-runner in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Democrats also indicated that they wish to question McGahn over Trump's firing of both former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group NYT: Justice investigating alleged Comey leak of years-old classified info Bernie-Hillary echoes seen in Biden-Sanders primary fight MORE.

Jackson said she would deliver a ruling "as quickly as possible,” though further details on the timeframe were unclear.

John Kruzel contributed.

Updated on Friday at 12:26 p.m.