Jun 24, 2019

House Democrats reach deal for ex-White House aide to testify on Trump

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler gives a speech.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Monday he's reached an agreement to receive testimony from Annie Donaldson, who served as former White House counsel Don McGahn's chief of staff.

Details: The panel had subpoenaed Donaldson to appear before it on Monday, but because she's in her third trimester of pregnancy, "there are concerns about her ability to travel and testify at length," Nadler's press release said.

"We are happy to reach an agreement with Ms. Donaldson that secures her prompt response to the Committee’s questions while reserving the right of the Committee to call her in when she is again able to travel and testify."
— House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler statement

Why it matters: Donaldson's notes feature prominently in the obstruction section of Robert Mueller's report. The White House previously instructed Donaldson and former communications director Hope Hicks not to testify or turn over documents related to their time in the administration.

The big picture: A White House counsel sitting in on the interview blocked Hicks — the first witness to at least partially comply with a subpoena in the committee's obstruction of justice investigation — from answering any question about her work in the White House or the Trump transition team when she did appear before the panel this month.

  • The White House is expected to try to block Donaldson from answering any questions in writing or in person about her government service, likely citing a Justice Department opinion that close aides to the president have "absolute immunity" from congressional subpoenas, according to the New York Times.
  • Under the agreement, Donaldson must provide written answers within 1 week of receiving them from the committee and disclose whether the White House provided documents to her and her counsel.

Go deeper: Read what the Mueller report says about Hicks and Donaldson

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