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By Rebecca Shabad and Alex Moe
WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday formally scheduled a hearing with former White House counsel Don McGahn, but it’s unclear whether the man Democrats want to question will show up.
The hearing is slated for next Tuesday, May 21, at 10 a.m., and is intended to focus on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump. McGahn was a key witness in Mueller’s probe into whether the president attempted to obstruct justice and disrupt the inquiry.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., subpoenaed McGahn in April for his testimony and documents related to the Mueller probe — but last week, the White House directed McGahn not to comply. Separately, McGahn’s lawyer, William Burck, told Nadler in a letter that McGahn “continues to owe certain duties and obligations to the president which he is not free to disregard” and that “the appropriate response for Mr. McGahn is to maintain the status quo unless and until the committee and the executive branch can reach an accommodation.”
Nadler said McGahn could be held in contempt of Congress if he doesn’t appear.
“We have subpoenaed McGahn and we’re expecting him to show up on the 21st, and if he doesn’t, he will be subject to contempt,” Nadler told reporters last week. “Unless he has a court order telling him he can’t, which I don’t think he would get.”
He added that McGahn has “to respect the rule of law like anybody else.”
The official notice of next week’s hearing comes after The New York Times reported that White House officials, at Trump’s request, asked McGahn at least twice in the last month to state publicly that he never believed the president obstructed justice. McGahn reportedly declined.
Trump has expressed his displeasure with McGahn publicly, tweeting Friday: “I was NOT going to fire Bob Mueller, and did not fire Bob Mueller. In fact, he was allowed to finish his Report with unprecedented help from the Trump Administration. Actually, lawyer Don McGahn had a much better chance of being fired than Mueller. Never a big fan!”
The redacted version of the Mueller report released last month detailed how McGahn received at least two phone calls from Trump in which the president “directed him to call” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to have Mueller “removed.” The president has since denied that he told McGahn to fire Mueller.
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