Update, Nov. 19, 6:48 p.m.: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said she would issue a ruling on the subpoena by Monday, Nov. 25.
Attorneys for House Democrats on the Judiciary Committee asked a federal judge in Washington, D.C. to provide an expedited ruling as to whether the Trump administration can block former White House counsel Don McGahn from testifying in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Citing the president’s conduct as detailed in the Mueller Report, as well as evidence recently produced during the criminal trial of former Trump advisor Roger Stone, the Committee said the need to hear from McGahn was “urgent.” The Committee implored the Court to compel McGahn’s testimony.
According to the filing, House impeachment investigators are seriously looking into whether President Trump lied in written answers to former special counsel Robert Mueller about his knowledge of Stone’s communications with WikiLeaks ahead of the 2016 election. In his written responses to Mueller, Trump denied any recollection of Stone speaking to him or any other campaign officials regarding WikiLeaks.
“[R]ecent evidence produced in the criminal proceedings against former Trump Campaign advisor Roger Stone indicates that President Trump may have provided false statements in his written answers to the Special Counsel’s office,” House Democrats’ general counsel Douglas Letter wrote in the filing.
Letter was referring to the testimony of Rick Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, who appeared as a government witness against Stone.
In his testimony, Gates described a phone call between Trump and Stone “at the conclusion of which Trump informed Gates that more releases of stolen emails would be coming,” and said Trump was” kept ‘updat[ed]’ on information Stone conveyed to other campaign officials.”
Letter also said there is an “urgent need” to interview McGahn because he was the “principal witness” to evidence of the president’s obstruction of justice as described in the Mueller Report.
“Given that the House’s impeachment inquiry is proceeding rapidly, the Committee has a finite window of time to effectively obtain and consider McGahn’s testimony,” Letter wrote. “Indeed, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) commenced public impeachment hearings last week. The Judiciary Committee anticipates holding hearings after HPSCI’s public hearings have concluded and would aim to obtain Mr. McGahn’s testimony at that time. Thus, there is an urgent need for final resolution of the matter now pending before this Court.”
The ruling in the McGahn case is significant because other impeachment witnesses who have been or still are close advisers to the president are also defying subpoenas.
[image via Saul Loeb-Pool_Getty Images]