Tuesday, May 21, 2019


Yesterday, the Trump administration advised former White House counsel Don McGahn to ignore a subpoena to testify at a Tuesday House hearing on the Russia investigation. Today it became clear that he listened to that advice. 

The White House claims that McGahn has immunity from the subpoenas because he worked closely with President Donald Trump, but the refusal has caused some Democratic representatives to say ‘enough is enough’. 

"Our subpoenas are not optional," House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said at the hearing Tuesday with an empty seat where McGahn would have been in front of him. “The president has taken it upon himself to intimidate a witness who has a legal obligation to be here today. This conduct is not remotely acceptable." 

Nadler said he had plans to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress and that he will also find a way to hold the president responsible. "We will not allow the president to block congressional subpoenas putting himself and his allies above the law," said Nadler. "We will not allow the president to stop this investigation. Nothing in these unjustified and unjustifiable legal attacks will stop us from pressing forward with our work on behalf of the American people." 

The co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus in Congress, meanwhile, issued a statement calling for the president’s impeachment Tuesday morning. “Regrettably, the President’s most recent actions and continued disrespect for the Constitution are forcing us down the road to impeachment,” wrote Congressman Mark Pocan. 

“I think that overwhelming evidence has been presented to us in the Mueller report, and outside of it too, of high crimes and misdemeanors, and we should launch an impeachment inquiry,” Representative Jamie Raskin told The Washington Post

The House can initiate the impeachment process but the Republican-controlled Senate would ultimately have to vote by a two-thirds majority to remove the president from office, something that seems exceedingly unlikely. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said on multiple occasions that she did not want to proceed with an impeachment trial without strong bipartisan support, but Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez challenged that idea in a tweet on Tuesday. 

“Just as what happens in the House doesn’t control Senate, what happens in the Senate shouldn’t control the House,” she wrote “[the Department of Justice] outlined ev[idence] of 10 criminal instances. Pres is now obstructing legally binding subpoenas. We need to do our job & vote on impeachment. What Sen does is on them.” 

On Monday, House Democrats held a contentious closed door meeting where some Democrats asked Pelosi to begin the impeachment process if McGahn did not show up to his hearing. Pelosi reportedly pushed back, asking her colleagues to hold off for now. But patience appears to be wearing thin, and Democrats are beginning to stratify on the issue. 

We’ll see in the coming weeks how tight of a hold Pelosi has over Democrats in the House. 

Nicole Goodkind is a political reporter at Newsweek. You can reach her on Twitter @NicoleGoodkind or by email, N.Goodkind@newsweek.com.

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