Court Battles

McGahn to testify next week before closed-door House panel over longtime subpoena fight


Former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn is reportedly expected to testify before a closed-door House panel next week over a two-year-old subpoena relating to his role as a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that McGahn, with President Biden’s permission, has agreed to testify after former President Trump and his allies argued they had complete immunity from congressional requests for testimony.

The consensus was reportedly contingent on there not being any active legal challenge to McGahn’s participation, the Times reported.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and lawyers for the House Judiciary Committee reached an agreement “in principle” earlier this month to end the lawsuit that had been in existence since August 2019, when a Democratic-led committee brought legal action to enforce its demand for McGahn to testify as part of an investigation into Trump.

The agreement includes limits on the testimony McGahn may give and only lawmakers on that panel may attend the closed-door session. They may only ask McGahn questions involving him that are included in public portions of the Mueller report. 

That transcript, once it is reviewed for accuracy, may be release sometime in June.

The committee wanted to question McGahn on matters relating to his role as a key witness in Mueller’s report, which focused on Trump’s efforts to hinder the Russia investigation.

The Trump White House had instructed McGahn, who at that point had already stepped down from the top presidential lawyer post, not to act in accordance with the subpoena.

The agreement between the DOJ and House lawyers was delayed as they waited to see if Trump, who was not part of the agreement, would intervene, the Times noted.

Immediately after the deal was announced in a court filing earlier this month, a lawyer representing Trump said the former president planned to intervene, the Times reported. Former presidents have the authority to invoke executive privilege, and Trump could have tried to obtain a court order to block McGahn’s testimony, the newspaper noted.

Late last week, however, Patrick Philbin, a lawyer for Trump and a former deputy White House counsel in the Trump administration, said the former president ultimately decided that he would not be involved, according to the Times.

The Hill reached out to McGahn, a spokesman for Trump and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) for comment.

The case involving McGahn’s testimony has seen a number of changes over the past two years.

In November 2019, a district judge denied the Trump administration’s arguments regarding White House immunity. The court ruled that “presidents are not kings,” and ordered that McGahn comply with the subpoena.

On appeal, however, the House suffered two losses at the hands of a three-judge panel, which were later vacated by the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case was scheduled to be argued before the full circuit court for the second time on May 19.

Tags Donald Trump Jerrold Nadler Jerry Nadler Joe Biden Robert Mueller

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