Nov 26, 2019

Trump responds to McGahn decision by claiming he wants witnesses to testify

President Trump tweeted Tuesday that the media is "reading far too much" into Monday's decision by a federal judge that would force former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify in the House impeachment inquiry.

Why it matters: Though the decision is being appealed, the judge rejected in harsh terms the argument that White House aides are "absolutely immune" from congressional subpoenas, blasting the theory as "exactly backwards" in terms of the principles of separation of powers.

  • Trump claimed that he would actually like his aides to testify but argued that "absolute immunity" is a matter of protecting the powers of the presidency.

What he's saying:

"The D.C. Wolves and Fake News Media are reading far too much into people being forced by Courts to testify before Congress. I am fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President. Other than that, I would actually like people to testify. Don McGahn’s respected lawyer has already stated that I did nothing wrong. John Bolton is a patriot and may know that I held back the money from Ukraine because it is considered a corrupt country, & I wanted to know why nearby European countries weren’t putting up money also. Likewise, I would love to have Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney and many others testify about the phony Impeachment Hoax. It is a Democrat Scam that is going nowhere but, future Presidents should in no way be compromised. What has happened to me should never happen to another President!"

Reality check: The claim that McGahn would testify that Trump "did nothing wrong" is dubious. The former White House counsel appears on 66 pages of the 448-page Mueller report — and appeared to prevent Trump from obstructing justice effectively by ignoring presidential orders at every turn.

  • Likewise, former national security adviser John Bolton, whom Trump also claims would exonerate him in the impeachment inquiry, met privately with Trump in August to try to convince him to release frozen military aid to Ukraine, one former official testified.
  • Bolton, who supposedly called the scheme to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Biden family a "drug deal," was the most prolific note taker at the top level of the White House — and could know more details than any impeachment inquiry witness about Trump's machinations with Ukraine.

Go deeper:

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McGahn appeals ruling ordering him to comply with House impeachment subpoena

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Monday that former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify under subpoena in the ongoing House impeachment inquiry, rejecting the White House's assertion that its aides are "absolutely immune" from congressional subpoenas. McGahn and the Justice Department appealed the ruling on Tuesday.

"When DOJ insists that Presidents can lawfully prevent their senior-level aides from responding to compelled congressional process and that neither the federal courts nor Congress has the power to do anything about it, DOJ promotes a conception of separation-of-powers principles that gets these constitutional commands exactly backwards. In reality, it is a core tenet of this Nation’s founding that the powers of a monarch must be split between the branches of the government to prevent tyranny."
— Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 26, 2019

Official testifies Bolton held 1-on-1 meeting with Trump about Ukraine aid

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former White House national security adviser John Bolton met privately with President Trump in August in an effort to convince him to release nearly $400 million in frozen military aid to Ukraine, former National Security Council official Tim Morrison told impeachment investigators last month.

Why it matters: The episode underscores how important Bolton's testimony could ultimately be to determining why Trump withheld security assistance to Ukraine at a time when he was pushing its government to investigate his political rivals — a question at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

Go deeperArrowNov 17, 2019

Why the missing testimony from the impeachment inquiry matters

As impeachment moves into its next phase, House Democrats lack testimony from major players in the Trump administration about allegations that the president withheld military aid and a coveted White House meeting to pressure Ukraine into investigating his domestic political rivals.

Go deeperArrowDec 5, 2019