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House Democrats ask full D.C. Circuit to rehear McGahn case

Washington — The House Judiciary Committee has asked the full federal appeals court in the District of Columbia to rehear a dispute over whether former White House counsel Don McGahn must comply with a subpoena from the Democrat-led panel for testimony about President Trump’s actions during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Lawyers for House Democrats warned in their request to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that a ruling last month from a divided panel of three judges on the court “has again hamstrung the House’s constitutional right to obtain information.”

The three-judge panel ruled it does not have the power to enforce legislative subpoenas against executive branch officials and ordered the Judiciary Committee’s lawsuit against McGahn dismissed because Congress has not enacted legislation that allows the federal courts to force congressional witnesses to testify.

The committee is now asking the full D.C. Circuit to rehear the case and review the decision by the three-judge panel.

“It is time for the en banc court to resolve this matter so that the House can finally act upon its subpoena and obtain the information it requires to carry out its constitutional responsibilities,” lawyers for House Democrats wrote in their filing to the D.C. Circuit. “All the remaining issues are fully ventilated and appropriate for resolution by the full court.”

The Judiciary Committee issued its subpoena to McGahn, who left the White House in 2018, last year as part of its impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump. The committee is seeking to question McGahn about whether the president obstructed justice during Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

McGahn, however, has not complied, and House Democrats filed a lawsuit to enforce the subpoena for his testimony.

The full D.C. Circuit ruled separately in August that the committee has standing to bring the lawsuit against the former White House counsel, but has yet to say whether McGahn is absolutely immune from the Judiciary panel’s subpoena.

House Democrats call McGahn’s claim of absolute immunity “baseless” and urged the full court to “confirm that this theory has no place in our system of checks and balances.”

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