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White House directs Don McGahn not to testify before Congress

By Daniel Uria
White House directs Don McGahn not to testify before Congress
The White House instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn not to testify before Congress on Tuesday, citing presidential immunity. File Photo by Win McNamee/UPI | License Photo

May 20 (UPI) -- The White House on Monday directed former White House counsel Don McGahn not to testify before Congress later this week.

The Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion stating that McGahn -- who served as President Donald Trump's White House counsel from the time he took office until October 2018 -- was not required to testify before Congress as a close adviser to the president.

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"The immunity of the president's immediate advisers from compelled congressional testimony on matters related to their official responsibilities has long been recognized and arises from the fundamental workings of the separation of powers," the opinion stated. "Accordingly, Mr. McGahn is not legally required to appear and testify about matters related to his official duties as Counsel to the president."

Monday's decision comes after House judiciary committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., issued a subpoena calling for McGahn to testify before Congress about the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 president election and evidence of obstruction by Trump.

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In addition to the legal opinion, current presidential counsel Pat Cipollone wrote a letter to Nadler, informing him that McGahn would not testify.

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"This long-standing principle is firmly rooted in the Constitution's separation of powers and protects the core functions of the presidency and we are adhering to this well-established precedent in order to ensure that future presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the office of the presidency," Cipollone wrote.

McGahn cooperated with Mueller's investigation, providing more than two dozen hours of interviews and Trump earlier this month said he doesn't want any current or former administration officials, including McGahn, to testify to the House.

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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement noting McGahn's previous cooperation with Mueller's investigation and accusing Democrats of seeking a "wasteful and unnecessary do-over," because they were dissatisfied with the conclusion of his report.

"The former counsel to the president cannot be forced to give such testimony and Mr. McGahn has been directed to act accordingly," Sanders said. "This action is being taken in order to ensure that future presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the office of the presidency."

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