Attorney was a key witness in Robert Mueller’s investigation

Former White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II has been ordered to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives on May 21 and to submit documents to it by May 7. The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to this effect on Monday, as political tensions in Washington escalate in the aftermath of the (redacted) Mueller report’s release last Thursday.

Mr. McGahn was a star witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, with his name appearing 157 times in the 448-page report.

Mr. McGahn’s testimony has been especially key to the part of the investigation that dealt with whether President Donald Trump engaged in the obstruction of justice by trying to derail the investigation. In June 2017, Mr. Trump called Mr. McGahn and asked him to tell the acting Attorney-General at the time to fire Mr. Mueller as he had “conflicts of interest”, the report said. Mr. McGahn says he did not acquiesce to the President’s request.

The former White House Counsel was described as “a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described in the Special Counsel’s report” in a statement released by Mr. Nadler.

Substantial evidence

“The Special Counsel’s report, even in redacted form, outlines substantial evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction and other abuses. It now falls to Congress to determine for itself the full scope of the misconduct,” Mr. Nadler said.

The ranking Republican on the Committee, Doug Collins, said the subpoena was premature.

“Instead of looking at material that Attorney-General William Barr has already made available, Democrats prefer to demand additional materials they know are subject to constitutional and common-law privileges and cannot be produced,” a statement from Mr. Collins read.

The House Judiciary Committee has the power to start impeachment proceedings against the President. Mr. Barr will testify before it on May 2. Mr. Mueller has also been invited to meet the Committee in May.

Democrats divided

On Monday, evening House Democrats convened via conference call — their first huddle to discuss the Mueller report. Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her colleagues, according to reports, to focus on committee hearings on the Mueller report rather than taking the impeachment route right now.

The appetite for impeachment varies across Democrats. Some have called for a cautious approach while others, including Democratic presidential candidates and Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, want to initiate impeachment proceedings against the President.

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