Judge rules McGahn must testify before Congress


U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of Washington found no basis for a White House claim that the former counsel is "absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony", setting the stage for a historic separation-of-powers confrontation between the executive and legislative branches of the government.

But Jackson disputed the administration's reasoning in a 118-page ruling. She called the concept "a fiction that has been fastidiously maintained over time through the force of sheer repetition in (Office of Legal Counsel) opinions, and through accommodations that have permitted its proponents to avoid having the proposition tested in the crucible of litigation". "We will appeal and are confident that the important constitutional principle advanced by the Administration will be vindicated".

"This court holds that individuals who have been subpoenaed for testimony by an authorized committee of Congress must appear for testimony in response to that subpoena - i.e., they can not ignore or defy congressional compulsory process, by order of the President or otherwise", Judge Kentanji Brown wrote in her ruling. The US President is also locked in other legal wrangles, some of which is part of his assertion of absolute executive privilege and immunity.

The justice department instantly moved to appeal the decision, rendering an appeal hearing inevitable and opening up the possibility that such a fundamental dispute over where power lies in modern America will end up at the door of the United States supreme court.

Others who have resisted testifying include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

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President Donald Trump blocked McGahn's testimony, arguing that the it was shielded by executive privilege. According to the experts I've spoken to, in order to do that he would probably have to show up in Congress and then refuse to answer questions one by one.

But the district judge's ruling will nearly surely be appealed to the D.C. Circuit Court. She is an appointee of President Barack Obama.

The House judiciary committee is still investigating whether Trump tried to have Mueller himself sacked, as recorded in the Mueller report citing McGahn.

All are believed to have direct knowledge of Trump's alleged demand that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky open investigations into Trump's Democratic rivals in exchange for a high profile summit and much-needed military aid. Kupperman, who left the administration when Bolton exited in September, was slated to appear before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees as part of their impeachment investigation. In a letter to House members, Schiff claimed that the closed-door and public hearings had provided "overwhelming, unchallenged, and damning" evidence of abuse of office.

House Democratic leaders have focused their impeachment inquiry on Ukraine, but have discussed pursuing a broader count of obstruction of Congress among any articles of impeachment - formal charges - brought against Trump. Top aides to Bolton testified that he called the Ukraine policy being overseen by Rudy Giuliani on the side a "drug deal, ' but Bolton himself has not comment".