House Democrats and White House Split Over Lawsuit for Ex-Trump Aide’s Testimony

House Democrats and White House Split Over Lawsuit for Ex-Trump Aide’s Testimony

WASHINGTON – The White House and Congressional Democrats are divided into a politically charged lawsuit that raises novel constitutional issues: President Donald J. The House’s long-running effort to force Trump’s former White House lawyer, Donald F. McGann II. Mr. Trump’s efforts to obstruct Russia’s investigation.

When the Democrats controlled only the House, it was easy for their leaders to unite Mr. McGann behind the by-election. But officials who now run the executive branch, especially President Biden’s White House counsel, have hesitated to set an example that someday Republicans might force them to testify about their internal affairs.

A glimpse of the institutional disconnect went public late on Wednesday, when the Justice Department – which was representing Mr McGann in fighting the case under Mr Trump – Sought an appeals court to delay debate In the case that was scheduled for Tuesday, citing a recent change in administrations.

“The new administration wants to know if that can be available in relation to the request of the housing committee,” said the filing. “Discussions have begun between the parties concerned, and the new administration believes that the parties will benefit from extra time to pursue these discussions.”

But Douglas N. Letter, an advocate for House Democrats – and, effectively, Speaker Nancy Pelosi – Opposed that proposalThe plea of ​​the Full Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia Circuit to proceed without delay.

“We applaud the efforts of the Biden administration to settle the matter, and we have actively participated in those efforts,” Mr. Letter wrote. “But we do not believe that postponing the argument would improve the likelihood of settlement or serve the interests of judicial efficiency or impartiality for the parties.”

Late on Thursday, however, the appeals court approved the Justice Department’s request, retracting the day set for debate on April 27, and a “status report” advising the parties’ discussion progressed until March 25. Ordered delivery. .

House Democrats were disappointed that the Trump administration’s insensitive approach and litigation strategy succeeded in running the clock, preventing any testimony by Mr. McGann before the 2020 election. In his letter, Mr. Letter suspected that any agreement involving Mr. Trump would be possible, warning that the delay, even if proven to be futile, could thwart congressional constitutional oversight powers.

Special counsel Robert S. about Mr. Trump’s efforts to obstruct the investigation. The case centers on Mr. McGann’s role as an important witness in the report by Muller III. After most of the report was made public by the Department of Justice, the House Judiciary Committee presented Mr. McGann to testify at a surveillance hearing. When he refused to appear, on Mr. Trump’s instructions, The committee sued.

The Justice Department under Mr Trump had argued that Mr McGann was “absolutely immune” from any forced presence before Congress to testify about his job duties. But in August, The entire District of Columbia Circuit rejected that theory.

Department of Justice lawyers under the Trump administration continued to contest the subpoena on other legal grounds, however, arguing that Congress did not have a “cause of action” that authorized it to sue the executive branch. (The executive branch has taken that position under the administrations of both parties, and the Justice Department said it was “ready to move forward” with the argument because the court denied her request for a delay.)

The dispute is further complicated by the fact that there are too many participants – House Democrats, Mr. McGann, the Biden administration, and potentially Mr. Trump. The former president has not been a party to the lawsuit, but may seek to interfere with and claim executive privilege – yet another issue that has not yet been adjourned to the case – if the executive branch case under Mr. Biden Exits.

Patrick F., former vice president of the White Deputy Council, one of the people nominated by Mr. Trump to deal with residual issues related to presidential records.

William A., Mr. A. McGann’s attorney. Burke has previously stated that his client’s intention was to defer to the president’s instructions, pending a final judicial order. A person familiar with the deliberations said that a position had not been taken on what Mr. Burke did to instruct Mr. McAden to speak to Congress, but Mr. Trump still did not tell him.

Stuart F., a White House deputy attorney. Dallery said in an interview that talks were still preliminary, but the Biden administration would “like to give more time to settle the dispute while preserving institutional interests associated with the presidency.”

There are some legal examples. A rare and limited guidepost is the 1977 case, Nixon vs General Services Administration. In it, the Supreme Court ruled that Richard M. Nixon can claim executive privilege claims on official records from his White House, even though he was no longer president – but it also weighed that claim against a contrary view of the president at the time. , Jimmy Carter.

The controversy, however, focused on the control of Nixon-era White House documents, not a subfamily for the testimony of a former attorney. Another question is how the attorney-client privilege works for the former White House lawyer when the presidency turns hands – and what if Mr. Trump’s law license on Mr. Trump cooperating with the House Mr. Biden’s request once to file an ethics complaint but over Mr. Trump’s objections.

There are no definitive answers to many such questions because until recently, such disputes had little to be fought without compromise, leading to judicial rulings. But the McGahn subpoena is a lawsuit An unprecedented number of lawsuits leaving two branches against each other in court After the midterm elections of 2018 arose after Democrats took over the House and Mr. Trump vowed to stonewall “all” subcontractors.

The trial on McGahn Upapone is a similar controversy to the one that President Barack Obama inherited when he wrote in 2009 to President George W.W. Took over from Bush. House Democrats investigating United States lawyers under Mr. Bush’s leadership, Harriet Mears, Min. Bush’s White House lawyer prosecuted at the time.

explanation of Mr. Obama did not want to undermine the presidency as an institution, with Mr. Obama then the White House lawyer, Gregory B. An agreement was reached with Craig, Mr. Bush, Emmett Flood and a representative of the Judiciary Committee. Along with Seema, Ms. Mears was able to be interviewed confidentially about the subject.

The settlement robbed the case, so the District of Columbia Circuit never issued any binding orders, leaving legal questions unresolved. The result left the White House with more fringed rooms in future disputes – with Trump giving the White House the idea that Mr. McGann was absolutely immune after he was subjugated by the House.

But there are some important differences between 2009 and 2021. Unlike Mr. Trump, Mr. Bush helped ease the path to cooperation – there was a smooth transition for his successor, and Mr. Craig and Mr. Flood were friendly former law partners on terms. It is clear that Mr. Trump will be open to the idea of ​​compromise.

Mr. Letter called for Mr. Trump’s history of stonewalling to warn that there is no point in delaying the District of Columbia’s view of the matter because the settlements could fail.

He said that such a delay “could prevent the committee from holding McGahn’s testimony for the 117th Congress, as opposed to acquiring that testimony for almost the entire term of the 116th Congress,” he wrote.



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