On Monday, a federal judge in Washington, DC, ruled that former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify before Congress in the impeachment probe. The decision strikes down President Donald Trump’s order to McGahn not to cooperate.
The House wants to hear from the Trump’s former top lawyer in regards to possible obstruction of justice in connection to the Russia probe. The decision handed down by U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown stated clearly that members of a presidential administration are not exempt from appearing before Congressional investigations.
Brown wrote, “This Court holds that Executive branch officials are not absolutely immune from compulsory congressional process—no matter how many times the Executive branch has asserted as much over the years—even if the President expressly directs such officials’ non-compliance.”
Today’s decision could have ramifications for other current and former members of the administration, like former national security adviser John Bolton, who have, thus far, also refused to appear before Congress. But don’t expect McGahn or Bolton to testify just yet; the White House will likely appeal the decision first.
According to CNN, McGahn’s attorney, William Burck, said his client “will comply with Judge Jackson’s decision unless it is stayed pending appeal. The DOJ is handling this case, so you will need to ask them whether they intend to seek a stay.”
The White House has argued that McGahn is exempt from testifying because they had “absolute immunity” due to executive privilege, an argument the judge called “peculiar.”
Brown wrote: “Thus—to be crystal clear—what is at issue in this case is solely whether senior level presidential aides, such as McGahn, are legally required to respond to a subpoena that a committee of Congress has issued, by appearing before the committee for testimony despite any presidential directive prohibiting such a response. McGahn must appear before the Committee to provide testimony, and invoke executive privilege where appropriate.'”