The ongoing war between congressional Democrats and the White House continued apace on Monday, with the Trump administration’s Department of Justice issuing a legal opinion arguing it’s totally fine for former White House Counsel Don McGahn to ignore a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee.
In a statement issued shortly after the DOJ’s opinion was published, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that the president had directed McGahn not to testify at a Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday. And in a separate letter, current White House Counsel Pat Cipollone notified House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler that McGahn “is absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters occurring during his service as a senior adviser to the President.”
“We are adhering to this well-established precedent in order to ensure that future Presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the office of the Presidency,” Cipollone added.
This is the second time in as many weeks that the White House has ordered McGahn not to comply with a House subpoena. Earlier this month, the Trump administration directed McGahn not to turn over material related to potentially criminal actions linked to the president and his staff, as was detailed in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. At the time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the administration’s actions “unprecedented stonewalling” and “unacceptable,” although the House did not take any retaliatory measures.
Since then, however, the House Judiciary Committee has upped the ante for those refusing to comply with its subpoenas, holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress and reportedly exploring the option of fining administration officials up to $25,000 for each day they ignore a subpoena.
According to CNN, the Judiciary Committee is still planning to hold Tuesday’s hearing without McGahn present, much like they did earlier this month for Barr. House Democrats are also expected to move forward with holding McGahn in contempt of Congress.