The House Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday after former White House counsel Don McGahn declined to appear before the panel despite a subpoena, with the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel claiming executive privilege.
The White House on Mondaybefore Congress, backed by a Justice Department legal opinion claiming Congress cannot compel the former White House lawyer to testify.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Tuesday during the hearing that the administration was "stonewalling" the committee to prevent McGahn from testifying on instances outlined in the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that could have amounted to obstruction of justice. Attorney General William Barr determined that Mr. Trump did not obstruct justice, but House Democrats insist that the obstruction decision should be left to Congress.
Nadler said Mr. Trump would have been indicted if not for Justice Department guidelines saying a sitting president cannot be indicted.
"This committee will hear Mr. McGahn's testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it," Nadler said. "We will not allow the President to stop this investigation, and nothing in these unjustified and unjustifiable legal attacks will stop us from pressing forward with our work on behalf of the American people. We will hold this President accountable, one way or the other."
Meanwhile, Ranking Member Doug Collins condemned the purpose of the hearing, saying the report had found no collusion or obstruction by the president.
"The chairman wants the fight and the drama. He does not actually want the information he claims to be seeking," Collins said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Monday, "the Department of Justice has provided a legal opinion stating that, based on long-standing, bipartisan, and Constitutional precedent, the former Counsel to the President cannot be forced to give such testimony, and Mr. McGahn has been directed to act accordingly."
Sanders added, "This action has been taken in order to ensure that future Presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the Office of the Presidency."
Nadler previously said if McGahn did not show on Tuesday, he'll be subject to contempt. Nadler said the White House's order was "unprecedented" and does not excuse McGahn from his "obligation" to appear before the panel. McGahn's testimony is seen as crucial to learning more about details into Mueller's Russia investigation in the wake of the release of his over 400-page long report.