House Democrats filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to compel former White House counsel and a key witness in the Mueller Investigation, Donald McGahn, to testify before the House Judiciary Committee as part of the committee's probe into "the scope and extent of misconduct by President Trump."
In May, McGahn, now a lawyer in private practice in Washington, D.C., refused, at the direction of the White House, to comply with a congressional subpoena to appear before the House Judiciary Committee.
Wednesday's lawsuit is another attempt to compel McGahn to testify, and the move highlights the central findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, including key instances in which the special counsel said that President Trump may have obstructed justice.
One such instance includes the president's unsuccessfulin the summer of 2017. According to the report, Mr. Trump backed off the request when McGahn refused. Mueller did not make a determination on whether the president committed obstruction, although Attorney General William Barr and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein cleared him.
McGahn, the Committee alleges, is "the most important witness, other than the President" in its investigation because of his proximity to President Trump throughout much of Mueller's tenure.
The very possibility that President Trump obstructed justice warrants their investigation, House Democrats argue, citing Mueller's own statement that he did not exonerate Mr. Trump. They say in the lawsuit that it is "up to Congress to hold the President accountable if appropriate after an independent investigation" and McGahn's refusal to testify impedes their ability to do so.
"Each day that McGahn refuses to testify, the Judiciary Committee is deprived of its ability to carry out the significant Article I task of determining whether to recommend that the President be impeached and potentially removed from office," the lawsuit says, highlighting the committee's power to recommend President Trump be impeached if a majority of its members agree.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadlerthe Trump administration has built to halt his committee's investigation, and this lawsuit is part of that attempt.
Last month, lawyers representing the president argued before both the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia toto the House Ways and Means Committee and a federal appeals court to from releasing his financial records to the House Oversight Committee.