Congressional Democrats concerned with holding the Trump administration accountable for its belligerence have scored a significant new court victory this week. The D.C. Appeals Court has ruled in favor of a subpoena from House Democrats that demanded testimony from Don McGahn, who is the former White House counsel and whose testimony was demanded as part of the impeachment proceedings against the president. The ruling came from the full court, with 7 judges in favor of the subpoena and 2 against. The decision followed an earlier ruling against the House from a three-judge panel of the court, which has now been overturned.
In the opinion for the majority in the new case, Judge Judith Rogers wrote:
‘The Constitution charges Congress with certain responsibilities, including to legislate, to conduct oversight of the federal government, and, when necessary, to impeach and remove a President or other Executive Branch official from office. Possession of relevant information is an essential precondition to the effective discharge of all of those duties.’
The Trump administration attempted to essentially completely lock down any and all relevant information amidst the House impeachment proceedings. They ignored as many demands for cooperation as possible, although there were a few defections, like that of the now former Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, who testified as part of the proceedings. Sondland has since been fired in what might have constituted an act of political retaliation. There was also apparent political retaliation against another witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who was reassigned away from the National Security Council following his own appearance before Congress.
Vindman has, in the time since, retired from the Army altogether in the face of the endless harassment from the president and his political allies. Prior to his departure, Vindman had been slated for a promotion, but according to CNN, Vindman was told that the “White House has sought to become involved in the promotion process.”
Vindman’s attorney, Amb. David Pressman, observed:
‘The President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers. These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it… [Vindman] did what the law compelled him to do; and for that he was bullied by the President and his proxies.’
It’s part of a long campaign against the president’s political opponents.