House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler (D-NY) threatened to go to court to get former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify in front of Congress, after he ignored a congressional subpoena to appear before the committee on Tuesday morning.
Nadler said it was important to get McGahn in to testify on several “obstructive incidents” outlined in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
“Mr. McGahn has a legal obligation to be here for this scheduled appearance. If he does not immediately correct his mistake, this committee will have no choice but to enforce the subpoena against him,” Nadler said in his opening remarks.
“This committee will hear Mr. McGahn’s testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it,” he said.
The White House issued a statement on Tuesday that the White House has directed McGahn not to testify, based on a legal opinion from the Justice Department.
“This action has been taken in order to ensure that future Presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the Office of the Presidency,” a statement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
“The Democrats do not like the conclusion of the Mueller investigation – no collusion, no conspiracy, and no obstruction – and want a wasteful and unnecessary do-over,” she added.
Nadler characterized the move as President Trump trying to “cover up” crimes of obstruction and hiding “behind his lawyers.” He also claimed the president was trying to obstruct the work of the committee to investigate him.
“We will hold this president accountable one way or the other,” he declared.
The top Republican on the committee, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), blasted Nadler in his opening remarks. “The theater is open,” he began.
He accused Democrats of ignoring the conclusions of Mueller’s report and “trying again.” Collins added:
The Mueller report concluded there was no collusion and no obstruction. Because the report failed to provide damning information against the president, the majority claims we need to dig deeper — deeper than the two years of investigation conducted by what is considered a prosecutorial dream team because that probe ended without criminal charges against the president or his family.
The Special Counsel closed up shop without giving Democrats anything to deliver to their base. Now the Democrats are trying desperately to make something out of nothing.
Collins said Nadler also departed from prior practice and did not ask McGahn to testify, but instead issued a subpoena immediately. He said that move ensured that McGahn would not testify.
“Instead of inviting the witness to testify voluntarily and working with McGahn’s counsel to find mutual agreeable time and scope for the testimony, the chairman rushed to maximize headlines by issuing a subpoena. That subpoena was the third in just four months — more subpoenas than the prior chairman issued in six years,” Collins said.
He called Wednesday’s hearing “theatrical” and a “spectacle,” and noted how Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) brought Kentucky Fried Chicken to a hearing where Attorney General Bill Barr did not show up.
“I just am glad to see today that we don’t have chicken on the dais,” he said.
Collins said Nadler “wants the fight but not the truth,” and blasted Democrats of using innuendo to attack the president.
“The president is continuing to do his job, and we’re here again with a circus,” he said.
I cannot emphasize this enough — the chairman’s track record demonstrates he does not actually want information. He wants the fight, but not the truth. The closer he actually comes to obtaining information, the farther away he runs from it. pic.twitter.com/GrZrEAol14
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) May 21, 2019