House Judiciary Committee lawyers and the Justice Department have each filed briefs in the appeals case over whether former White House counsel Don McGahn should be forced to testify before Congress. While the Justice Department argued that President Trump's impeachment by the House means there's no rush to compel McGahn's testimony, the House countered that his testimony is still needed because it further supports arguments on the second article, which says that Mr. Trump obstructed Congress.
The case is scheduled to be heard by a federal appeals court on January 3.
On Monday, the Justice Department argued that the House lawsuit compelling McGahn's testimony should be dismissed. Because the House passed articles of impeachment against President Trump, the department suggested, there's no rush for a court to weigh in. If a court were to do so, "it would appear to be weighing in on a contested issue in any impeachment trial," Justice Department lawyers wrote.
And a court decision would put the judicial branch in the middle of a dispute between the legislative and executive branches, the Justice Department states. Especially at a time "when political tensions are at their highest levels" because of the impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump, "this sort of interbranch dispute is not one that has traditionally thought to be capable of resolution through the judicial process," the department argued. It's a political question, not a judicial question, the Justice Department maintains.
The House, in its brief Monday, disagreed that Mr. Trump's impeachment by the House means there's no rush for judicial action on the matter. Instead, the House argues impeachment makes the need more urgent.
House lawyers say the second article of impeachment passed by the House, obstruction of Congress, is directly linked to McGahn's testimony.
"That pattern includes the President's 'endeavor to impede the Special Counsel's investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 United States Presidential election, as well as [his] sustained efforts to obstruct the Special Counsel after learning that he was under investigation for obstruction of justice'" they argue of Trump's obstruction, later adding, "The Committee thus continues to have an urgent need for McGahn's testimony to further support the misconduct described in the second Article."
House lawyers also say that hearing from McGahn is a vital part of the "ongoing" impeachment proceedings, explaining that the information he provides could affect their strategy in the expected Senate trial.
"McGahn's testimony is vital to the House's ongoing impeachment proceedings in several respects," House lawyers wrote. "McGahn's testimony would inform the House's decision-making regarding the presentation of the Articles and evidence to the Senate."
As for the "legislative need" to get McGahn in front of the Judiciary Committee, a point of contention between the Justice Department and the House, the House lawyers said that "the Committee is also weighing a range of legislative responses, including 'whether the conduct uncovered may warrant amending or creating new federal authorities … relating to election security, campaign finance, misuse of electronic data, and the types of obstructive conduct that the Mueller Report describes.'"
McGahn, the House lawyers maintain, could provide the Committee with information that may be used in lawmaking, related to election interference.
Read the brief filed by the Justice Department here:
Read the brief filed by the House Judiciary Committee here: