Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled Friday that former White House counsel Don McGahn doesn't have to comply with a House subpoena to testify.
The opinion curtails Congress' ability to force members of the executive branch to appear before committees for questioning.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia's opinion overturned a lower court's decision in November that McGahn must testify in the House's impeachment investigation.
Judge Thomas Griffith, who wrote the 2-1 majority opinion, said that upholding the lower judge's ruling would open the courts up to lawsuits between the two branches of government.
"The walk from the Capitol to our courthouse is a short one, and if we resolve this case today, we can expect Congress' lawyers to make the trip often," he wrote.
The appeals court also said that ruling in favor of the House would eliminate a tradition of negotiation with the executive branch in which Congress would withhold funding or presidential nominees in order to press subpoenas.
Justice Department lawyers made the case that lawmakers cannot force by subpoena any member of the Trump administration.
House judiciary committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler subpoenaed McGahn in April before the impeachment proceedings were officially announced and filed a lawsuit in August seeking to compel his testimony after he defied the subpoena at Trump's direction.
Trump announced McGahn's departure from the White House in August 2018, shortly after he shared details in the Muller report about the firing of former FBI director James Comey, Trump's desire to have former Attorney General Jeff Sessions oversee the Russia probe and Trump's attempts to fire Mueller.