Ex-White House Counsel McGahn Will Testify to Judiciary Committee Former White House counsel Don McGahn speaks during a discussion on "Constitutional Questions and Political Struggle: Congress' Role in Oversight and National Security" at the NYU Global Academic Center in Washington, D.C., on December 12, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Thursday, 13 May 2021 08:36 AM
Former Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn has agreed to testify to the House Judiciary Committee in connection with the group's review of former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and report, settling a court battle in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that has been going on since 2019 over his refusal to appear.
McGahn, who was the campaign attorney for former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and served as White House counsel until 2018, has agreed, through a deal negotiated by the committee, the Justice Department, and his attorneys, to speak only to committee members in private, reports NPR.
A transcript will be released of the testimony shortly after it concludes, according to a court filing on Wednesday, and the interview will be held "as soon as possible.”
The Judiciary Committee first subpoenaed McGahn in 2019, after the Mueller report indicated he'd know about several allegations of obstruction that had been committed by Trump. The former president's administration prevented McGahn and other key White House advisers from testifying in the review, reports NPR.
The questions will be limited to allow only information that was attributed to McGahn in the portions of the report that were made public and about events that involved the attorney personally.
McGahn will be allowed to decline to answer questions beyond that scope, and DOJ attorneys will also be able to tell him not to answer certain questions.
At the same time, McGahn can be asked if the Mueller report is accurate in its reports of statements he made during the investigation and if his comments were the truth.
“When the former president vowed to fight ‘all of the subpoenas’ aimed at his administration, he began a dangerous campaign of unprecedented obstruction," Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement. "We begin to bring that era of obstruction to an end today…I am pleased that we have reached an arrangement that satisfies our subpoena, protects the Committee's constitutional duty to conduct oversight in the future, and safeguards sensitive executive branch prerogatives."
Nadler also said the settlement was the result of "weeks of hard work and collaboration with the Biden Administration and relevant outside counsel. I look forward to the D.C. Circuit recognizing the importance of this outcome in the coming days.”
Trump was not a party in the agreement, reports The Washington Post.
One key question in the court filings concerned whether a congressional committee could force testimony from a close presidential adviser like McGahn had been, the Post also reported, noting that it is not clear what new information the committee will be able to glean from the interview.
However, lawmakers have said they consider McGahn the "most important" witness in their probe over whether Trump had obstructed justice, and the Mueller report mentions the president's former legal counsel more than 160 times.
McGahn’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment but had said previously that his client doesn't believe he witnessed any violations of law.
In the past, however, McGahn's lawyer said that Trump instructed McGahn to cooperate fully with Mueller, but not to give testimony without an agreement reached between the Judiciary Committee and the White House.
The Trump White House had also argued that key presidential advisers were "absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony.”