DOJ Office of Legal Counsel Concludes Congress Can’t Force McGahn to Testify

The Justice Department building stands in Washington, D.C., February 1, 2018. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

In an opinion released Monday, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel ruled that former White House counsel Donald McGahn is “not legally required” to testify to Congress on matters related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

“The immunity of the President’s immediate advisors 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.

McGahn featured prominently in Mueller’s final report, released last month. His assertion that President Trump directed him to have the Justice Department fire Mueller drew particular attention as an instance in which Trump may have attempted to obstruct justice. In the days following, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler subpoenaed him for documents and testimony related to that claim.

Mueller ultimately found that the Trump campaign had not colluded with Moscow to influence the 2016 presidential election, but refrained from reaching a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice during the investigation.

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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited the memo Monday and said the administration has directed McGahn to “act accordingly” with the DOJ’s statement.

“This action has been taken in order to ensure that future Presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the Office of the Presidency,” Sanders said in a press release. “The Democrats do not like the conclusion of the Mueller investigation – no collusion, no conspiracy, and no obstruction – and want a wasteful and unnecessary do-over.”

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