May 7, 2019

White House instructs Don McGahn not to comply with House subpoena

Don McGahn. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

White House counsel Pat Cipollone has instructed former counsel Don McGahn to withhold subpoenaed documents from the House Judiciary Committee.

Driving the news: In a letter to McGahn's lawyer, Cipollone said that the White House provided documents to McGahn as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation with the understanding that they would remain under control of the White House "for all purposes." As such, Cipollone argues that the committee must negotiate with the White House, and that President Trump has the right to invoke executive privilege and prevent the records from being disclosed.

  • McGahn's lawyer William Burck subsequently wrote a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) informing him of the White House's decision.

Why it matters: Interviews with McGahn, who cooperated for more than 30 hours with the special counsel's office, are cited in the Mueller report 157 times — more than any other witness. Refusals from McGahn — and other top White House staffers — to obey presidential directives are part of the reason that Trump may have avoided obstructing justice.

The big picture: Trump's White House has moved to a strategy of simply ignoring congressional subpoenas, highlighting a key limitation of congressional oversight — there's not much Democrats can do if the Trump administration says no to everything. And attempts to hold members of previous administrations in contempt of Congress all fizzled, setting the stage for protracted legal battles.

  • Trump said in an interview with Fox News last week that McGahn and other administration officials should not testify before Congress: "They've testified for many hours, all of them. I would say, it's done ... They shouldn't be looking anymore."

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,309, 439 — Total deaths: 72,638 — Total recoveries: 273,546Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 347, 003 — Total deaths: 10,335 — Total recoveries: 18,953Map.
  3. 2020 update: Wisconsin governor issues executive order to delay in-person primary voting until June.
  4. Public health latest: Asymptomatic children could play important role in coronavirus spread, new data from the CDC shows.
  5. States' latest: West coast states send ventilators to New York and other states experiencing a more immediate need — Data suggests coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  6. Jobs latest: Unemployment could already be at 13% "and moving higher," per former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
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Wisconsin governor issues order to delay in-person primary voting until June

Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) issued an executive order Monday delaying in-person voting for the state's primary election — currently scheduled for Tuesday — until June 9.

Why it matters: Wisconsin was slated to be the only state to vote on Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic, despite having a stay-at-home order in place.

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll reaches 10,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 10,000 in the U.S. on Monday, per Johns Hopkins data. More than 1,000 people in the U.S. have died of coronavirus-related conditions each day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday the coming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health