Following the instruction of the Trump White House, a lawyer for Donald McGahn informed the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday he will not comply with the panel’s subpoena for the former White House counsel’s testimony and records.
William Burck of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, who represents McGahn, informed chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, of the decision in a letter Tuesday. The letter came after McGahn missed a Tuesday morning deadline to respond to Nadler’s subpoena, likely escalating the clash between House Democrats and the White House as lawmakers demand records related to special counsel Robert Mueller III’s investigation.
“The White House provided these records to Mr. McGahn in connection with its cooperation with the special counsel’s investigation and with clear understanding that the records remain subject to the control of the White House for all purposes,” Cipollone said. “The White House records remain legally protected from disclosure under longstanding constitutional principle, because they implicate significant executive branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege.”
The letter is the latest example of the White House’s defiance of House Democrats’ demands for records and testimony. In recent weeks, House Democrats have characterized the White House’s resistance as obstruction of Congress and taken steps to hold Trump administration officials in contempt.
Responding to McGahn’s defiance, House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, said in a statement late Tuesday: “I fully expect that the Committee will hold Mr. McGahn in contempt if he fails to appear before the Committee, unless the White House secures a court order directing otherwise.”
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Nadler, writing to Burck, argued that the White House letter blocking McGahn’s disclosure of documents “did not actually invoke executive privilege. Even if the President were to properly invoke privilege, any claim of executive privilege has been waived as to documents that the White House voluntarily disclosed to Mr. McGahn and his counsel.”
Nadler also argued that “there is no valid executive privilege invocation that could be asserted in good faith regarding the subject of the Special Counsel’s investigation and report.”
Read the letter Burck sent to the House Judiciary Committee: