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House Democrats, DOJ reach deal over subpoena to ex-White House counsel

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Washington — Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department have reached an “agreement in principle” in a long-running dispute over enforcement of a subpoena for testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn, who served under former President Donald Trump.

Lawyers for the Justice Department, who are representing McGahn, and House Democrats said in a filing to federal appeals court in the District of Columbia that they intend to submit a request for the case to be removed from the court’s 2021 oral argument calendar “in order to allow the parties to implement the accommodation.”  

The attorneys told the D.C. Circuit that “former President Trump, who is not a party to this case, is not a party to the agreement in principle regarding an accommodation.” 

The separation-of-powers dispute between Democrats on the Judiciary panel and McGahn began in April 2019, when the committee approved its subpoena for testimony from McGahn after special counsel Robert Mueller issued his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller and his team identified 10 instances in which Mr. Trump may have obstructed justice during the FBI’s probe, but they did not make a determination on whether the former president did so. McGahn, who voluntarily met with Mueller’s investigators about his interactions with Mr. Trump, was cited extensively in the special counsel’s report.

The Trump White House, however, blocked McGahn from complying with Democrats’ subpoena, arguing he was “absolutely immune” from testifying. The House Judiciary Committee went to court in August 2019 to enforce the subpoena, but a three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit last year ordered the case to be tossed out on technical grounds and said it didn’t have the authority to enforce congressional subpoenas.

Democrats then asked the full D.C. Circuit to rehear the case, and the court was scheduled to hear arguments May 19.

Rob Legare contributed to this report



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