A U.S. federal judge is due to issue a ruling Monday in a lawsuit filed by the House Judiciary Committee seeking to compel former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify in the impeachment probe of President Donald Trump.
The Judiciary Committee originally sought McGahn’s testimony in connection with the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and allegations Trump, as president, obstructed justice by working to shut down the probe.
The committee argued in a court filing last week that it is now even more urgent it hear from McGahn in light of the public hearings held this month by the House Intelligence Committee into allegations Trump illegally pressured Ukraine to investigate a Democratic rival.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said she would issue her ruling by the end of the day Monday.
McGahn is among a number of Trump administration officials who have ignored congressional subpoenas from committees conducting their various investigations of Trump as the White House argued the officials were immune from being compelled to give such testimony.
Others who have refused to testify include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Adviser John Bolton and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
The focus in the House impeachment probe has been on the Intelligence Committee as it held its open hearings with current and former diplomats and officials in recent weeks. In a letter Monday to members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Chairman Adam Schiff said the House Intelligence Committee was writing a report based on public hearings with 12 witnesses as well as depositions and transcribed interviews with 17 other witnesses.
“While we will continue with our investigative work and do not foreclose the possibility of further depositions or hearings, we will not allow the President or others to drag this out for months on end in the courts,” Schiff wrote.
He added the Intelligence Committee would transmit the report to the House Judiciary Committee “soon after Thanksgiving.” Chairman Jerrold Nadler will then proceed with the next steps in the impeachment inquiry process, that could include writing Articles of Impeachment.
Democrats, who control a majority of seats in the House, can impeach the president with a simple majority vote. At that point, a trial must be held in the Senate, where it would take a two-thirds majority to remove Trump from office. No Republicans in either chamber have indicated they will support the impeachment effort.
Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and a frequent critic of the impeachment proceedings, refused to answer questions Sunday as to whether he met with a former Ukrainian official to gather information on the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.
A lawyer representing Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has told multiple news outlets since Friday that Nunes met Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Victor Shokin, in Vienna in 2018.
The claim is controversial because Nunes did not disclose any such meeting while leading the Republican defense of Trump during related impeachment inquiry hearings.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Nunes was asked whether he had met with Shokin. The congressman replied that he wanted to answer questions but could not do so “right now.”
Democrats have said that if Parnas’ claim proves credible, Nunes could face an ethics investigation.
Parnas, under indictment regarding suspect political contributions, is seeking immunity to testify to the Intelligence Committee.
Trump denounced the hearings on Twitter Sunday, claiming that polls “have now turned very strongly against Impeachment, especially in swing states.”
Polls have now turned very strongly against Impeachment, especially in swing states. 75% to 25%. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 24, 2019
He did not indicate what polls he was referring to, but the latest averaging of polls shows public opinion is fairly evenly split on whether Trump should be impeached.
Twelve witnesses testified in Congress over the past two weeks, providing new details on allegations that Trump pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
Witnesses told lawmakers that Giuliani played a key role in pressing for Ukrainian officials to announce an investigation.
“We all understood that if we refused to work with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose an important opportunity to cement relations between the United States and Ukraine. So, we followed the president’s orders,” Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testified Wednesday.