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Saturday, 23 January 2021

Judge rules McGahn must testify to Congress

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Judge rules McGahn must testify to Congress
Judge rules McGahn must testify to Congress

Former White House counsel Don McGahn must comply with a congressional subpoena seeking his testimony about President Donald Trump's efforts to impede the now-completed federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, a judge ruled on Monday.

Tamara Lindstrom reports.

Former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

A U.S. District Judge in Washington, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Monday rejected the Trump administration's legal claim that current and former senior White House officials cannot be compelled to testify before Congress.

Monday's 118-page ruling in a lawsuit filed by the House Judiciary committee states -quote- "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' noncompliance," the judge adding that "this result is unavoidable as a matter of basic constitutional law." McGahn, who left his post in October 2018, had defied a subpoena for testimony in May.

The subpoena was issued months before the House opened an impeachment inquiry into the Republican president's actions concerning Ukraine.

The committee sued McGahn in August to try to enforce the subpoena.

McGahn emerged as a key figure in special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Brown Jackson's ruling only concerns McGahn's testimony.

But by rejecting Trump's key legal argument for defying congressional subpoenas it could give other former and current presidential advisers, like former National Security Advisor John Bolton, a legal basis for cooperating with the ongoing House impeachment inquiry.

Neither the Justice Department nor a representative for McGahn was immediately available to comment.

The decision is likely to be appealed.

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