House pushes back as DOJ proposes delay in McGahn subpoena case

Attorneys for House Democrats are pushing back against the Justice Department's proposal to delay court proceedings over a congressional subpoena to former White House counsel Don McGahn that was issued nearly two years ago.

After the Biden administration's Justice Department asked a federal appeals court on Thursday to reschedule oral arguments set for April 27, the House's legal team responded by arguing that the case, and the House's quest for information about the Trump administration, has already been subjected to unreasonable delays.

"The bottom line is that this litigation has already been massively delayed, unfortunately no settlement has been reached, and points of disagreement among the parties have not been resolved," House lawyers wrote in a letter filed with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday. 


Attorneys for the Department of Justice had told the court earlier in the day that it might be necessary to postpone oral arguments for the second time this year to allow all of the parties to explore a settlement that would accommodate the House's investigative demands. 

"Because the parties are making material progress towards reaching agreement, the Court may wish to postpone oral argument, both to conserve the resources of the Court and to preserve the status quo between the parties as we endeavor in good faith to reach a resolution outside of litigation," the Justice Department, which has been representing McGahn in the case, said in its filing. 

The subpoena was first issued in April 2019 and has been tied up in litigation since August of that year. The most recent ruling was issued seven months ago, when a three-judge circuit panel decided that the House lacked a valid legal claim to enforce their subpoena in court. 

The full D.C. Circuit is now reviewing that decision, which is why another round of oral arguments had been scheduled.

The subpoena had originally sought McGahn's testimony as part of a congressional inquiry following up on the special counsel's investigation into former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to move ahead with billion UAE weapons sale approved by Trump Fox News hires high-profile defense team in Dominion defamation lawsuit Associate indicted in Gaetz scandal cooperating with DOJ: report MORE. The House later incorporated its efforts to obtain McGahn's testimony into the first impeachment inquiry against Trump. 

The Trump administration had ordered McGahn not to comply with the subpoena and argued in court that current and former White House officials had blanket immunity from such legislative inquiries.

The last administration's posture towards congressional investigations led to numerous court battles between the two branches, some of which are still tied up. At least two cases over unrelated congressional subpoenas from the Trump era have been dormant in a lower court pending resolution of the McGahn suit.