Nadler strikes testimony deal with former McGahn chief of staff

The head of the House Judiciary Committee on Monday announced an agreement to receive testimony from Annie Donaldson, who served as former White House counsel Don McGahn's chief of staff. 

Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerSenate on collision course over Trump DOJ subpoenas Black Democrats press leaders for reparations vote this month House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists MORE (D-N.Y.) said Donaldson has agreed to testify in person about the key events she observed while serving in the Trump administration in November.


While Nadler had subpoenaed Donaldson to appear for a deposition by Monday morning, the chairman granted her an extension to provide in-person testimony due to a pregnancy in which there are "concerns about her ability to travel and testify at length," according to a Monday press release.

"We understand that Ms. Donaldson’s pregnancy makes it difficult for her to travel and testify for long periods of time, and we worked on finding an accommodation to those needs and restrictions," Nadler said in a statement.

"We are happy to reach an agreement with Ms. Donaldson that secures her prompt response to the Committee’s questions while reserving the right of the Committee to call her in when she is again able to travel and testify," he continued.  

Under the agreement, Donaldson must also provide written answers within a week of receiving them from the committee and inform the committee whether the White House has given her or her counsel documents.

The White House, Nadler added, must treat this situation as if Donaldson had appeared to testify in person and therefore "make any objections on a question-by-question basis."

Democrats are eager to hear from Donaldson, who Nadler notes had "a front row seat to many of the instances outlined in the Mueller Report dealing with President TrumpDonald TrumpWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Black Secret Service agent told Trump it was offensive to hold rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth: report MORE’s alleged obstruction of justice and other abuses of power."

Efforts to get Donaldson's testimony come after the White House instructed McGahn to evade giving public testimony before the committee, citing a Department of Justice legal opinion arguing that he is immune from congressional testimony.

McGahn is seen as a star witness who the committee wants to question about Trump's actions with respect to the Mueller probe, particularly questions centering on the alleged episodes of obstruction by President Trump that are laid out in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's report. 

Trump ordered McGahn to have the special counsel fired over alleged conflicts of interest, a demand McGahn ultimately refused to carry out, according to the Mueller report. 

The White House also instructed Donaldson and former White House aide Hope HicksHope HicksUPDATED: McEnany, Fox News talks on pause Trump selects Hicks, Bondi, Grenell and other allies for positions Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis tests positive for coronavirus MORE earlier this month not to provide documents to the panel that relate to their work in the White House.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone in a letter at the time argued that the records Democrats are after remain under control of the White House.

“Those documents include White House records that remain legally protected from disclosure under longstanding constitutional principles, because they implicate significant Executive Branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege," Cipollone wrote to Nadler, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Hill.

"Because Ms. Talley [Donaldson] and Ms. Hicks do not have the legal right to disclose the White House records to third parties, I would ask that the Committee direct any request for such records to the White House, the appropriate legal custodian," it continues.

Hicks testified before the Judiciary Committee last week, in which White House lawyers repeatedly blocked the former aide from answering questions about her work in the administration, according to a transcript of a closed-door interview released Thursday.

Throughout the daylong interview, the lawyers prevented Hicks from answering more than 150 times about her work in the White House, including questions centering on the alleged episodes of obstruction by President Trump that are laid out in special counsel Robert Mueller's report. 

Hicks did, however, answer several questions about her work on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, which she worked for before following Trump into the White House.