Judge hits pause on order for McGahn to comply with House Judiciary subpoena
A federal district court judge in Washington on Wednesday issued a temporary stay on her order earlier this week for former White House counsel Don McGahn to comply with a subpoena to appear before the House Judiciary Committee.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson issued the stay following a request from McGahn’s attorneys, who are seeking a lengthier one that would allow him to appeal the decision.
While the House Judiciary Committee opposed any stay on the order for McGahn to appear on Capitol Hill, the committee said it would not oppose an administrative stay of seven days.
Jackson ruled on Monday that McGahn must appear before Congress pursuant to a subpoena issued earlier this year, saying that if McGahn wanted to assert executive privilege to avoid testifying, he needs to appear before Congress and do it himself.
The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed McGahn on April 22, but the White House quickly blocked his appearance. Monday’s ruling had apparent ramifications for Democrats seeking to compel other top White House officials to testify as part of their ongoing impeachment inquiry concerning President Trump’s Ukraine policy.
The panel has been probing possible obstruction of justice by the president in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Monday’s ruling comes hours after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., signaled he would soon hand over a report — and control over the impeachment probe — to the House Judiciary Committee. However, Schiff also left open the possibility that more hearings before his panel could be possible.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., announced on Tuesday plans for a hearing next week to weigh whether Trump’s actions reach a level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and warrant articles of impeachment.
Nadler penned a letter to the president on Tuesday announcing a hearing for Dec. 4 at 10 a.m., and notifying him of the committee’s intentions to provide him with “certain privileges” while they consider “whether to recommend articles of impeachment to the full House.”
The chairman also extended an invitation to the president, asking whether “you and your counsel plan to attend the hearing or make a request to question the witness panel.”
“If you would like to participate in the hearing, please provide the Committee with notice as soon as possible, but no later than by 6 p.m. December 1, 2019,” Nadler wrote. “By that time, I ask that you also indicate who will act as your counsel for these proceedings.”
Nadler did warn, however, that if the president and the White House “continue to refuse to make witnesses and documents available to the committees of jurisdiction,” he will “have the discretion to impose appropriate remedies.”
The judiciary committee investigation into possible obstruction of justice by Trump comes amid the ongoing impeachment inquiry in the House.
At the center of that inquiry is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president. That call prompted a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, and in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House. Trump challenged the accuracy of the complaint, though the transcript released by the White House did support the core allegations that he pressed for politically related investigations.
The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have claimed shows a “quid pro quo” arrangement. Trump denies any wrongdoing.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson, Brooke Singman and Gregg Re contributed to this report.