“This Court should decline the Committee’s request that it enter the fray and instead should dismiss this fraught suit between the political branches for lack of jurisdiction”, William Barr’s Justice Department argued in a filing on Monday, in a bid to prevent an appeals court from furthering lawmakers’ case to compel the testimony of former White House counsel Don McGahn.
Hilariously, the DoJ also suggested that because Trump has already been impeached, hearing from McGahn is no longer urgent.
Late last month, a subpoena for McGahn was ruled valid by a federal judge in Washington. That marked a potentially serious legal blow for the White House although, at this juncture, it’s not clear what (if anything) actually matters, considering Mitch McConnell has openly stated that he does not intend to be an impartial juror in the president’s Senate trial.
The White House has sought to block top Trump aides from testifying in multiple investigations. This particular case relates to McGahn’s first-hand knowledge of possible obstruction of justice in the Mueller probe.
McGahn’s testimony, assuming it’s truthful, would almost surely bolster the case for obstruction.
McGahn featured heavily throughout the Mueller report. As the media and Congress raced to parse the 400-page tome, some of the first takeaways related to discussions in and around the president’s efforts to get rid of the special counsel. Specifically, Trump pressured McGahn not to reveal information that would validate media reports about efforts to fire Mueller. “The President reacted to the news stories by directing White House officials to tell McGahn to dispute the story and create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the Special Counsel removed”, the report reads.
“McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre”, Mueller’s report goes on to say, painting McGahn as perhaps the key player who prevented Trump from having the special counsel dismissed.
Attorneys for the House Judiciary committee want the appeals court to rule expeditiously on whether the subpoena for McGahn is valid. “McGahn’s testimony is critical both to a Senate trial and to the Committee’s ongoing impeachment investigations to determine whether additional Presidential misconduct warrants further action by the Committee”, lawyers for the panel said Monday.
If you’re wondering whether that means Trump could be impeached again, the answer is yes.
“If McGahn’s testimony produces new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the articles approved by the House [the House Judiciary Committee] will proceed accordingly – including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment”, House counsel Douglas Letter said. (You can read the full filing below.)
Meanwhile, Chuck Schumer sent a letter to his colleagues in the Senate essentially demanding that everyone get on board with the idea that this trial needs to be taken seriously.
McConnell said this week he hasn’t ruled out calling witnesses, but that’s hardly convincing. He’s clearly inclined to avoid hearing from anyone who might provide damning testimony, including and especially John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney, who, by the way, leaned on the same set of excuses as McGahn when arguing that they were not required to testify on Capitol Hill during the House’s impeachment probe.
In his Monday letter, Schumer seized on documents released over the weekend by the non-profit Center for Public Integrity. The cache of e-mails shows, among other things, that the Office of Management and Budget had misgivings about orchestrating a delay in the disbursement of congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine. The timestamp on one e-mail suggests the effort to halt the aid took on a new sense of urgency within an hour of Trump’s infamous July 25 call with Volodymyr Zelensky.
“What happened over the weekend has only bolstered the case that documents should be produced and witnesses testify”, Schumer told reporters at a news conference Monday.
His letter (also embedded in full below) admonishes senators to obtain all relevant evidence and information before clearing Trump simply for the sake of party discipline.
“There simply is no good reason why evidence that is directly relevant to the conduct at issue in the Articles of Impeachment should be withheld from the Senate and the American people”, Schumer writes. “To oppose the admission of this evidence would be to turn a willfully blind eye to the facts, and would clearly be at odds with the obligation of Senators to ‘do impartial justice’ according to the oath we will all take in the impeachment trial”.
Filing in McGahn caseFilingMcGahnAppeal