The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled against the Democrat-run House of Representatives in its effort to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify, saying that Congress had not yet passed a law authorizing its subpoena.
A three-judge panel of the court held 2-1 that the House lacked a “cause of action” for enforcing a subpoena against McGahn and therefore did not rule on the White House’s substantive claim that the counsel for the president had “absolute immunity.”
In its ruling, the majority concluded: “Because the Committee lacks a cause of action to enforce its subpoena, this lawsuit must be dismissed. We note that this decision does not preclude Congress (or one of its chambers) from ever enforcing a subpoena in federal court; it simply precludes it from doing so without first enacting a statute authorizing such a suit.”
The long-running legal dispute involves an effort by the House Judiciary Committee to force McGahn to testify. It came up often during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial earlier this year. The White House claimed that the House was wrong to impeach the president for refusing to obey congressional subpoenas before exhausting judicial options. Democrats ridiculed that argument, saying that the White House was telling the courts in the McGahn case that the judiciary did not have jurisdiction to hear the lawsuit.
Democrats could appeal the decision, or pass a law authorizing the subpoena.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.