Monday 21 October 2019

White House tells former adviser not to testify to Congress

Don McGahn. Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Don McGahn. Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Mary Clare Jalonick

A former White House aide is defying a request to testify before the US Congress.

Democrats in the House of Representatives are facing another attempt by President Donald Trump to thwart their investigations after instructing former White House counsel Donald McGahn to defy his subpoena.

A lawyer for Mr McGahn said he would follow the president's directive and skip the House Judiciary hearing, leaving the Democrats without another witness.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi, backed by House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, is taking a step-by-step approach to the confrontations with Mr Trump.

Mr Nadler said the committee would vote to hold Mr McGahn in contempt, and take the issue to court.

Mr Nadler warned Mr McGahn in a letter on the eve of the hearing: "You face serious consequences if you do not appear."

Democrats are encouraged by an early success on that route as a federal judge ruled against Mr Trump in a financial records dispute with Congress. But that has not been swift enough for some members of the judiciary panel who feel that Ms Pelosi should be more aggressive and launch impeachment hearings that would make it easier to get information from the administration.

Such hearings would give Democrats more standing in court and could stop short of a vote to remove the president.

The issue was raised in a meeting among top Democrats where some members confronted Ms Pelosi about opening up the impeachment hearings. Ms Pelosi said several committees are doing investigations already and they had already been successful in one court case.

Irish Independent

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