Former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn will testify before the House Judiciary Committee behind closed doors about then-President Donald Trump’s attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation, the House and the Justice Department announced in a court filing Wednesday night.
The interview will happen “as soon as possible,” and a transcript will be released in the days after, the court filing said.
The committee members who interview McGahn can ask him about the incidents documented in the Mueller report of Trump’s attempts to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and block the Russia investigation, and about the Mueller investigation’s accuracy. The Justice Department can assert executive privilege or McGahn can decline to answer on other topics, which would essentially block House Democrats from learning details McGahn might know about other major scandals during Trump’s presidency.
McGahn served as the top lawyer on Trump’s 2016 campaign and served as White House counsel until fall 2018.
The agreement is a major concession from the executive branch after the Trump administration sought to broadly block former and current officials from testifying to Congress, and McGahn’s recalcitrance ended up in court as the most potentially consequential case over testimony. Yet the agreement comes after much of the political jeopardy Trump faced as president passed – leaving House Democrats with far less momentum in their investigations of Trump related to obstruction.
“When the former President vowed to fight ‘all of the subpoenas’ aimed at his Administration, he began a dangerous campaign of unprecedented obstruction. We begin to bring that era of obstruction to an end today,” Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.
The agreement will put an end to the two-year standoff in court over McGahn’s congressional testimony, which Democrats sought after Mueller documented multiple instances of Trump’s obstructive acts. The Mueller investigation relied on McGahn as one of its most significant witnesses against Trump.
Mueller wrote in 2019 he was documenting the instances of obstruction so that Congress or future investigations could pick up the ball. The special counsel left the decision of whether to indict Trump for obstruction of Justice to then-Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department’s top political appointees, who declined to prosecute Trump.