Law & the Courts

DOJ Appeals Ruling Mandating McGahn Testimony

The U.S. Department of Justice building in Washington, D.C. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

The Department of Justice appealed on Monday a federal court ruling requiring former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

The appeal is the latest twist in several attempts by Democrats to compel McGahn’s testimony before Congress.

Democrats subpoenaed McGahn in April of this year in connection with his testimony in the Mueller investigation. In that probe McGahn was cited as saying President Trump directed him to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was looking into allegations the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton. The investigation failed to produce evidence of coordination between the campaign and Russia.

The White House then moved to prohibit McGahn from turning over any documents pertaining to the investigation to the House, with White House Counsel Pat Cipillone citing “confidentiality interests and executive privilege.”

On Monday, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled McGahn was required to testify in the impeachment inquiry. Currently, the inquiry is focused on suspicions Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate corruption allegations against political rival Joe Biden by withholding military aid from the country. The addition of McGahn’s testimony would signal a widening of the inquiry to include other actions allegedly committed by Trump while in office.

Jackson, an Obama appointee, rejected the DOJ’s claim McGahn had “absolute immunity,” and disputed the DOJ’s argument that federal courts should not insert themselves into conflicts between the legislative and executive branches.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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