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Nadler Files Lawsuit to Force McGahn to Obey Subpoena to Testify

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Nadler Files Lawsuit to Force McGahn to Obey Subpoena to Testify

2019-08-07 21:25:321 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Jerry Nadler (Image source: Screenshot)

The problem with Donald Trump's strategy to just ignore all subpoenas and requests for testimony, documents, etc. from himself, administration officials, and aides, is that there is just too much. As soon as he closes down one chapter, there's another one waiting in the wings. When he tends to that fire and puts it out, there's yet another waiting in the wings. 

Of course, it doesn't help that he creates much of his own trouble as well. It certainly doesn't help that while he's trying to avoid all the legal action he's being called out for being racist because of all the comments he's lobbing at congressional members of color and associated cities and countries.

The president was able to make it out of special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony just slightly beat up, though to hear him talk, he was completely unscathed. He followed that by making incendiary remarks of the "squad," then threw more comments at a House leader and the city he represents.  

While still wading through that event, a gunman went on a rampage and shot up a Walmart, making comments beforehand that sounded similar to things Trump has uttered before about immigrants.

And on the day he visited the two locations of the weekend's shootings and had protesters to deal with, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) threw another bucket of water on him and filed a lawsuit to enforce a subpoena asking former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify.  

According to Mueller's report, McGahn told him that Trump had asked him to fire Mueller. After he refused and word got out, he asked him to lie and say it didn't happen. Again, McGahn refused.

Atorneys for Judiciary Committee Democrats referred to McGahn as "critical" and the "most important fact witness" before the lawsuit was filed. They also said he witnessed key obstruction events that were detailed by Mueller. 

One of the attorneys compared McGahn to former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, whose testimony before Congress was seen as pivotal to the Watergate case.

"It is fair to say that Mr. McGahn is cited more than any other witness," in Mueller's report, points out another counsel for the Judiciary Democrats. 

This is a step that Nadler had indicated before Mueller's testimony would be imminent. He had earlier subpoenaed McGahn as part of the investigaton into Trump's alleged obstruction.

The White House returned the volley and accused the chairman of trying for a "re-do" of Mueller's investigation, would not comply with the document requests, and refused to allow McGahn and other officials and aides to testify. 

"The Judiciary Committee is now determining whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the president based on the obstructive conduct described by the special counsel," reads the lawsuit.

"But it cannot fulfill this most solemn constitutional responsibility without hearing testimony from a crucial witness to these events: former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II." 

"Given his central role in these and other events outlined in the report, McGahn is uniquely positioned to explain those events, bring additional misconduct to light, and provide evidence regarding the president's intent," continued the lawsuit.

William Burck, McGahn's attorney, said he will comply with the White House's order rather than the Judiciary Committee's, "abusent a contrary decision from the federal judiciary." 

"People should not forget that Don McGahn is a lawyer and has an ethical obligation to protect client confidences, and as I have said before, Don does not believe he witnessed any violation of law," continued his attorney.

"The president instructed Don to cooperate fully with the special counsel but directed him not to testify to Congress unless the White House and the committee reached an accommodation," explained Burck. 

"When faced with competing demands from co-equal branches of government, Don will follow his former client's instruction, absent a contrary decision from the federal judiciary."

The top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), slammed the lawsuit, saying it would only serve to "shut off this committee's access to White House and [Department of Justice] documents." 

"Their insistence on having Don McGahn testify publicly before the cameras further proves they are only interested in the fight and public spectacle of an investigation but not actually in obtaining any real information," he insisted.

The White House is claiming the confidential nature of activities in the executive branch prevents McGahn from making his conversations public, thereby saying he has "absolute immunity from congressional subpoenas. 

Apart from McGahn's testimony, the House Democratic counsel announced on Wednesday that they reached an agreement to review documents that were subpoenaed from him. As part of the agreement, however, they will not be allowed to make the documents public.

They want McGahn's testimony, however, to be in front of the "American public." They want the public to hear directly from him what he saw and how Trump reacted to certain things, including Mueller being appointed special counsel by former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. 

It could be a while before there is a decision in this matter, but it doesn't matter too much, as there is surely something else waiting in the wings to cause Trump more strife, and it's most likely a result of something he has done.

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