Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chair of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, issued a subpoena Monday for documents and testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn.
The subpoena is likely escalate a looming legal fight over how much of special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report, and its underlying evidence, Congress is able to see. Nadler subpoenaed the full, unredacted report Friday.
“Mr. McGahn is a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described in the Mueller report,” Nadler said in a statement Monday. “His testimony will help shed further light on the President’s attacks on the rule of law, and his attempts to cover up those actions by lying to the American people and requesting others do the same.”
The committee’s ranking member, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), blasted Nadler in a statement.
“Instead of looking at material AG [William] Barr already made available, Democrats prefer to demand more documents they know are subject to constitutional and common-law privileges and can’t be produced,” Collins said.
Mueller’s 448-page report, released last week, is peppered with instances of Trump asking McGahn and other aides to take actions that might have obstructed Mueller’s investigation into links between Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election Trump’s campaign. In one notable example, Trump allegedly asked McGahn to lie about a New York Times report that Trump had asked McGahn to fire Mueller.
“What you said is, ‘Call [Deputy Attorney General] Rod [Rosenstein], tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can’t be the Special Counsel,'” McGahn replied.
Trump has denied ever asking McGahn to fire Mueller.
But the former White House counsel had his own story to tell, and tell it he did. Mueller cited McGahn 157 times in his final report— more than any other witness. Now, McGahn’s perspective from within the White House inner circle and his prolific disclosures to Mueller make him a key witness for House Democrats who are using the report as a jumping-off point for their own investigations.
The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to authorize a subpoena for McGahn earlier this month after sending an initial request for documents in early March. So far, Nadler has only used that power twice — once for McGahn and once for the Mueller report and its underlying evidence.
The subpoena requires McGahn to submit requested documents by May 7 and to give open testimony before the committee on May 21. Barr is scheduled to testify on May 2. The committee has also requested testimony from Mueller, but it has not subpoenaed him.
Barr, in a letter to Congress on March 24, said that Mueller’s evidence does not support a charge of obstruction of justice against Trump. But the report is more equivocal. Now Nadler, whose committee would begin the impeachment process if House Democrats choose that route, intends to investigate that question for himself.
“As a co-equal branch of government, Congress has a Constitutional obligation to hold the President accountable,” Nadler said Monday, “and the planned hearings will be an important part of that process.”