U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Monday rejected the Trump administration's claim of broad immunity protecting current and former senior White House officials from being compelled to testify before Congress, saying no one is above the law.
Democrats sought to query McGahn about potential obstruction of justice by President Trump in Particular Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, months earlier than the beginning of the impeachment hearings. They opted instead to "look for guidance in the outcome of similar litigation involving a subpoena to former White House counsel Donald McGahn".
The Trump administration's court filing asked for the delay while it pursues an appeal a day after U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson rejected its legal claim that current and former senior White House officials can not be compelled to testify before Congress.
Jackson's ruling has blown a large hole in that legal argument. Both the executive and the legislative branches had sought to avoid an appeals court or Supreme Court decision that would represent a binding precedent one way or the other.
"The claim that a president's senior-level aides have absolute testimonial immunity is meritless", Jackson wrote.
"That is to say, however busy or essential a presidential aide might be, and whatever their proximity to sensitive domestic and national-security projects, the President does not have the power to excuse him or her from taking an action that the law requires", Jackson wrote.
Trump said he'd "love to have" White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and former National Security Adviser John Bolton "and many others testify about the phony impeachment hoax".
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Even if McGahn does eventually appear before a House committee, there is no guarantee that he will actually respond to questions.
President Donald Trump blocked McGahn's testimony, arguing that the it was shielded by executive privilege. If the judge does not immediately impose that delay, McGahn will file an emergency application at the federal appeals court in Washington on Wednesday, the lawyers said.
"Given that the House's impeachment inquiry is proceeding rapidly, the committee has a finite window of time to effectively obtain and consider McGahn's testimony", they added. "However, I am very concerned about Senate Republicans and the fact that they would find this behavior by the President acceptable", she said in a statement.
The House judiciary committee is still investigating whether Trump tried to have Mueller himself sacked, as recorded in the Mueller report citing McGahn.
Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, D-Calif., questions former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch before the House Intelligence Committee, Nov. 15, 2019.
The ruling also raises the possibility of McGahn being requested to testify before House investigators conducting the ongoing impeachment inquiry into Trump, as Democrats have been debating if articles of impeachment should include allegations of obstruction of justice detailed in the Mueller report.
This is the same position that Cooper has had since Bolton and Kupperman were called in to be deposed.