Rep. Jerrold Nadler on Tuesday vowed to hold President Trump accountable for stonewalling congressional investigations into his administration and threatened to go to court to compel former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.
McGahn refused to comply with a subpoena from the committee on Tuesday after the White House said he had “absolute immunity” from appearing because he was a former administration official and an adviser to the president.
An empty chair was left before the panel where McGahn was supposed to sit.
“Let me be clear: This committee will hear Mr. McGahn’s testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it. We will not allow the president to prevent the American people from hearing from this witness,” Nadler said in his opening remarks before the panel he chairs.
“We will not allow the president to block congressional subpoenas, putting himself and his allies above the law,” the New York Democrat said. “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.”
“We will hold this president accountable, one way or the other,” he pledged.
Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the committee, accused Nadler of putting on a theatrical production and exceeding the bounds of congressional oversight.
“Even gaveling in today’s hearing without a witness is theatrical. The cameras love the spectacle,” Collins said in his opening remarks.
“The chairman orchestrated today’s conversation when he could have avoided it because he was more interested in fighting than fact-finding.”
Moments after Collins completed his comments, the committee adjourned without taking any action against McGahn.
McGahn, who left the White House in October, was a star witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report and described how Trump had ordered him to have Mueller fired.
Nadler referred to McGahn’s testimony in the report to show that Trump told the former counsel to “commit crimes on his behalf. He told McGahn to lie about it.”
“After the report came out, the president claimed that Mr. McGahn lied to the special counsel about what happened. Then he directed Mr. McGahn not to come here today, so that the public would not hear his testimony,” Nadler continued.
He said that “subpoenas are not optional.”
“Mr. McGahn has a legal obligation to be here for his scheduled appearance. If he does not immediately correct his mistake, this committee will have no choice but to enforce the subpoena against him,” Nadler said.
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