Don McGahn, the former top lawyer for the White House under President Donald Trump skipped a House congressional hearing Tuesday, defying a subpoena that was issued last week.
"This conduct is not remotely acceptable," the committee's chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, (D-NY) said Tuesday, while facing an empty witness chair. "Our subpoenas are not optional."
McGahn's decision to defy the subpoena comes after the Trump administration reportedly instructed the former White House counsel to not testify about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. McGahn fully cooperated with Mueller's investigation, sitting down for more than 30 hours of interviews in total.
The current White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, wrote a letter addressed to the House Judiciary chairman that stated McGahn is immune from testifying in front of Congress in matters "related to their official responsibilities."
"Because of this constitutional immunity, and in order to protect the prerogatives of the Office of the Presidency, the President has directed Mr. McGahn not to appear at the Committee's scheduled hearing on Tuesday, May 21, 2019," Cipollone wrote. "This long-standing principle is firmly rooted in the Constitution's separation of powers and protects the core functions of the Presidency, and we are adhering to this well-established precedent in order to ensure that future Presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the Office of the Presidency."
McGahn skipping today's hearing is the latest in a series of classes between Congress and the White House. Lawmakers have already found Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to provide them with a complete, unredacted copy of the special counsel's report. Trump later asserted executive privilege over the redacted portions of the Mueller report, along with millions of pages of evidence about Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Nadler said the House Judiciary committee was willing to go to court to secure testimony from McGahn.
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