Nadler To Punish Don McGahn As WH Blocks Judiciary Testimony

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Donald Trump has asserted that he will not respect his co-equal branch of government, the Legislative Branch. For two years, the Republicans have supported every one of the president’s whims and offered zero pushback. Then, the Democrats came to town and started holding the commander-in-chief accountable with their oversight responsibilities. That brought on this, the POTUS’ biggest blowout yet.

The House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold (Jerry) Nadler (D-NY) subpoenaed the president’s former White House counsel to testify before his committee. The White House blew up and told Don McGahn he did not have to appear. Torn between the two branches of government, the man who may have testified before Special Counsel Robert Mueller III decided to go with the president. Bad choice.

McGahn’s attorney, William Burck wrote in a letter to Nadler, according to CNN:

‘As with the subpoena for documents, Mr. McGahn again finds himself facing contradictory instructions from two co-equal branches of government. Under these circumstances, and also conscious of the duties he, as an attorney, owes to his former client, Mr. McGahn must decline to appear at the hearing tomorrow.’

Nadler continued, writing that his committee would employee “all enforcement mechanisms at its disposal:”

‘The Justice Department has no place informing you about the potential remedies that congress may pursue in the exercise of its own Article I powers. The Committee has made clear that you risk serious consequences if you do not appear tomorrow.’

Nadler appeared on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time where he said:

‘(T)he first thing we’re going to have to do is hold McGahn in contempt. That’s the next step.’

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Nadler, where he wrote:

The Department of Justice has advised me that Mr. McGahn is absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters occurring during his service as a senior adviser to the President.’

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement that read:

‘(McGahn) cannot be forced to give such testimony, and Mr. McGahn has been directed to act accordingly. This action has been taken in order to ensure that future Presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the Office of the Presidency.’

Trump weighed in on the White House lawn:

‘As I understand it they’re doing that for the office of the presidency for future presidents. As I understand it it’s a very important precedent. The attorneys say they’re doing it not for me, they’re doing it for the future.’

The Department of Justice (DOJ) claimed in a memo that Congress does not have the right to “use its inherent contempt power to punish McGahn for asserting immunity:”

‘The constitutional separation of powers bars Congress from exercising its inherent contempt power in the face of presidential assertion of executive privilege. An attempt to exercise inherent contempt powers in such a circumstance would be without precedent and ‘would immensely burden the President’s ability to assert the privilege and to carry out his constitutional functions.’

The DOJ claimed that “privilege is a separate question” from immunity:

‘We provide the same answer that the Department of Justice has repeatedly provided for nearly five decades: Congress may not constitutionally compel the President’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties. This testimonial immunity is rooted in the constitutional separation of powers and derives from the President’s independence from Congress.’