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House judiciary chairman vows to question McGahn after no-show

By Nicholas Sakelaris
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House judiciary chairman vows to question McGahn after no-show
A name tag for former White House counsel Don McGahn is seen Tuesday on the witness table before the House judiciary committee. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

May 21 (UPI) -- The House judiciary committee adjourned Tuesday without taking action against former White House counsel Don McGahn, but Democrats remain adamant that he will testify.

The panel convened to hear testimony from McGahn about the Justice Department investigation of Russia, but the attorney didn't appear -- on legal advice from the White House. An empty chair sat before the panel, instead.

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Panel Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., vowed to hold President Donald Trump and his allies accountable and House Democrats say they want to question McGahn about the investigation and the Mueller report.

"Let me be clear: This committee will hear Mr. McGahn's testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it," Nadler said Tuesday. "We will not allow the president to prevent the American people from hearing this witness. We will not allow the president to block congressional subpoenas, putting himself and his allies above the law. 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."

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Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., accused Nadler of putting on political theater that exceeds the limits of congressional oversight.

"Even graveling in today's hearing without a witness is theatrical," he said. "The cameras love the spectacle. The chairman orchestrated today's conversation when he could have avoided it because he was more interested in fighting than fact-finding."

Nadler warned McGahn in a letter Monday night that he must testify.

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"The Justice Department has no place informing you about the potential remedies that Congress may pursue in the exercise of its own Article I powers," he wrote. "The committee has made clear that you risk serious consequences if you do not appear."

The White House argues that as a former senior adviser to Trump, McGahn doesn't have to appear. In a 15-page legal opinion, Assistant Attorney General Steven A. Engel said McGahn can't be compelled to testify, and White House counsel Pat Cipollone said McGahn is "absolutely immune."

Democrats are threatening to hold McGahn in contempt for failing to answer a federal subpoena.

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