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House Committee Warns of ‘Serious Consequences’ as Trump Tells Former Counsel to Ignore Subpoena

WHITE HOUSE — Patsy Widakuswara at the White House contributed to this report.

U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler says the committee is “prepared to use all enforcement mechanisms at its disposal” if former White House Counsel Don McGahn does not comply with an order to show up for testimony Tuesday.

In a letter to McGahn released late Monday, Nadler objected to an order from the White House instructing McGahn not to testify, and to a Justice Department legal opinion stating that Congress cannot force him to appear.

“The committee has made clear that you risk serious consequences if you do not appear tomorrow,” Nadler wrote.

WATCH: McGahn subpoena

He said President Donald Trump was seeking to “block a former official from informing a coequal branch of government about his own misconduct,” and that the White House order did not excuse McGahn from his obligation to testify.

Nadler further dismissed the opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel as having “no support in relevant case law” with prior court rulings rejecting the arguments presented.

He said the committee wants to ask McGahn about “instances in which the president took actions or ordered you to take actions that may constitute criminal offenses, including obstruction of justice.”

McGahn’s attorney, William Burck, however, confirmed Monday evening that his client would not appear Tuesday before the House committee.

“Mr. McGahn remains obligated to maintain the status quo and respect the President’s instruction. In the event an accommodation is agreed between the Committee and the White House, Mr. McGahn will of course comply with that accommodation,” Burck said in a statement.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders explained in a statement that the Justice Department “has provided a legal opinion stating that, based on long-standing, bipartisan, and Constitutional precedent, the former Counsel to the President cannot be forced to give such testimony, and Mr. McGahn has been directed to act accordingly.”

The Justice Department, in its legal opinion, states: “We provide the same answer that the Department of Justice repeatedly provided for five decades: Congress may not constitutionally compel the President’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties.”

“They’re doing that for the office of the presidency for future presidents,” said President Donald Trump of the Justice Department legal opinion. “They’re not doing that for me.” 

​”I think we’ve been the most transparent administration in the history of our country,” replied Trump to a reporter asking why not just let McGahn testify so the public can have full answers to executive action regarding the Russia investigation. “We want to get on with running the country.”

Trump spoke on the White House South Lawn before boarding Marine One for Joint Base Andrews. From there, he headed to a political rally in Pennsylvania on Air Force One.

In a letter to Nadler, the current White House Counsel to the President, Pat Cipollone, stated that Trump has directed McGahn not to appear at Tuesday’s hearing. 

“This long-standing principle is firmly rooted in the Constitution’s separation of powers and protects the core functions of the Presidency, and we are adhering to this well-established precedent in order to ensure that future Presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the Office of the Presidency,” Cipollone writes.

The Democrats have been eager to hear from McGahn, including questioning him about potential obstruction of justice by Trump based on episodes outlined in the report of special counsel Robert Mueller from his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Nadler, last week, stated he was prepared to have his committee vote to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress if the former White House counsel defied the subpoena.

One member of the committee is calling for an impeachment inquiry against the president to commence if McGahn does not testify Tuesday. 

“We simply cannot sit by and allow this president to destroy the rule of law, to subvert the Constitution,” Congressman David Cicilline of the state of Rhode Island said during an interview on U.S. cable news network MSNBC. 

McGahn’s name is mentioned on more than 65 pages of the 448-page Mueller report.

Monday’s pushback by the Justice Department and the White House is the latest instance of the executive branch trying to challenge for power the legislative branch of government with Trump betting the third branch – the judiciary – will back him up with rulings by federal judges, including the Supreme Court. 

“That’s a dangerous game to play, though, because the judiciary is also not going to want to see erosion of their power, even if they see congressional power getting eroded,” predicts Shannon Bow O’Brien, a government professor at the University of Texas. 

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House Committee Warns of ‘Serious Consequences’ as Trump Tells Former Counsel to Ignore Subpoena

WHITE HOUSE — Patsy Widakuswara at the White House contributed to this report.

U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler says the committee is “prepared to use all enforcement mechanisms at its disposal” if former White House Counsel Don McGahn does not comply with an order to show up for testimony Tuesday.

In a letter to McGahn released late Monday, Nadler objected to an order from the White House instructing McGahn not to testify, and to a Justice Department legal opinion stating that Congress cannot force him to appear.

“The committee has made clear that you risk serious consequences if you do not appear tomorrow,” Nadler wrote.

WATCH: McGahn subpoena

He said President Donald Trump was seeking to “block a former official from informing a coequal branch of government about his own misconduct,” and that the White House order did not excuse McGahn from his obligation to testify.

Nadler further dismissed the opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel as having “no support in relevant case law” with prior court rulings rejecting the arguments presented.

He said the committee wants to ask McGahn about “instances in which the president took actions or ordered you to take actions that may constitute criminal offenses, including obstruction of justice.”

McGahn’s attorney, William Burck, however, confirmed Monday evening that his client would not appear Tuesday before the House committee.

“Mr. McGahn remains obligated to maintain the status quo and respect the President’s instruction. In the event an accommodation is agreed between the Committee and the White House, Mr. McGahn will of course comply with that accommodation,” Burck said in a statement.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders explained in a statement that the Justice Department “has provided a legal opinion stating that, based on long-standing, bipartisan, and Constitutional precedent, the former Counsel to the President cannot be forced to give such testimony, and Mr. McGahn has been directed to act accordingly.”

The Justice Department, in its legal opinion, states: “We provide the same answer that the Department of Justice repeatedly provided for five decades: Congress may not constitutionally compel the President’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties.”

“They’re doing that for the office of the presidency for future presidents,” said President Donald Trump of the Justice Department legal opinion. “They’re not doing that for me.” 

​”I think we’ve been the most transparent administration in the history of our country,” replied Trump to a reporter asking why not just let McGahn testify so the public can have full answers to executive action regarding the Russia investigation. “We want to get on with running the country.”

Trump spoke on the White House South Lawn before boarding Marine One for Joint Base Andrews. From there, he headed to a political rally in Pennsylvania on Air Force One.

In a letter to Nadler, the current White House Counsel to the President, Pat Cipollone, stated that Trump has directed McGahn not to appear at Tuesday’s hearing. 

“This long-standing principle is firmly rooted in the Constitution’s separation of powers and protects the core functions of the Presidency, and we are adhering to this well-established precedent in order to ensure that future Presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the Office of the Presidency,” Cipollone writes.

The Democrats have been eager to hear from McGahn, including questioning him about potential obstruction of justice by Trump based on episodes outlined in the report of special counsel Robert Mueller from his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Nadler, last week, stated he was prepared to have his committee vote to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress if the former White House counsel defied the subpoena.

One member of the committee is calling for an impeachment inquiry against the president to commence if McGahn does not testify Tuesday. 

“We simply cannot sit by and allow this president to destroy the rule of law, to subvert the Constitution,” Congressman David Cicilline of the state of Rhode Island said during an interview on U.S. cable news network MSNBC. 

McGahn’s name is mentioned on more than 65 pages of the 448-page Mueller report.

Monday’s pushback by the Justice Department and the White House is the latest instance of the executive branch trying to challenge for power the legislative branch of government with Trump betting the third branch – the judiciary – will back him up with rulings by federal judges, including the Supreme Court. 

“That’s a dangerous game to play, though, because the judiciary is also not going to want to see erosion of their power, even if they see congressional power getting eroded,” predicts Shannon Bow O’Brien, a government professor at the University of Texas. 

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DOJ: Trump’s Former Senior Adviser Not Legally Obliged to Testify Before Congress

The Trump administration has instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn to defy a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Lawmakers want to question McGahn, a key figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation or Russia’s interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Department of Justice agrees that as a former senior adviser to U.S. President Trump, McGahn is not legally required to appear before Congress. VOA’S Zlatica Hoke reports.

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DOJ: Trump’s Former Senior Adviser Not Legally Obliged to Testify Before Congress

The Trump administration has instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn to defy a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Lawmakers want to question McGahn, a key figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation or Russia’s interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Department of Justice agrees that as a former senior adviser to U.S. President Trump, McGahn is not legally required to appear before Congress. VOA’S Zlatica Hoke reports.

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Conservative States Push Abortion Restrictions, Prompting Backlash

Recent moves by several U.S. states to impose strict new limits on abortion have encouraged abortion opponents that they might eventually be able to challenge a 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right for women to seek an abortion. The effort has sparked a furious pushback from abortion rights supporters and could elevate the issue ahead of next year’s U.S. presidential election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

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US Senator Convening Meetings to Warn Business, Academia of China Threat

U.S. Senator Mark Warner said on Sunday that he has been organizing meetings between U.S. intelligence officials and the country’s business and academic communities to urge caution in their relationships with China.

“I have been convening meetings between the intelligence community and outside stakeholders in business and academia to ensure they have the full threat picture and hopefully, make different decisions about Chinese partnerships,” Warner said in a statement.

Accusing China of undermining U.S. security, Warner, a Democrat, said the meetings were aimed at increasing awareness about tactics used by China against the United States.

In a series of classified briefings with U.S. companies, the country’s intelligence heads have warned about potential risks of doing business with China, the Financial Times reported earlier on Sunday.

The briefings to educational institutions, venture capitalists and technology firms have been given by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, along with officials from the FBI and the National Counter-Intelligence and Security Center, the FT reported, citing officials who attended the briefings.

The development comes as the United States and China have been engaged in trade tensions for months over issues including technology, cyber security, tariffs, industrial subsidies and intellectual property rights.

On Thursday, the United States added Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to a trade blacklist, immediately enacting restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for the company to do business with U.S. counterparts.

The move came amid concerns from the U.S. that Huawei’s smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, allegations the company has repeatedly denied.

The decision was slammed by China, which said it will take steps to protect its companies.

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US Senator Convening Meetings to Warn Business, Academia of China Threat

U.S. Senator Mark Warner said on Sunday that he has been organizing meetings between U.S. intelligence officials and the country’s business and academic communities to urge caution in their relationships with China.

“I have been convening meetings between the intelligence community and outside stakeholders in business and academia to ensure they have the full threat picture and hopefully, make different decisions about Chinese partnerships,” Warner said in a statement.

Accusing China of undermining U.S. security, Warner, a Democrat, said the meetings were aimed at increasing awareness about tactics used by China against the United States.

In a series of classified briefings with U.S. companies, the country’s intelligence heads have warned about potential risks of doing business with China, the Financial Times reported earlier on Sunday.

The briefings to educational institutions, venture capitalists and technology firms have been given by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, along with officials from the FBI and the National Counter-Intelligence and Security Center, the FT reported, citing officials who attended the briefings.

The development comes as the United States and China have been engaged in trade tensions for months over issues including technology, cyber security, tariffs, industrial subsidies and intellectual property rights.

On Thursday, the United States added Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to a trade blacklist, immediately enacting restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for the company to do business with U.S. counterparts.

The move came amid concerns from the U.S. that Huawei’s smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, allegations the company has repeatedly denied.

The decision was slammed by China, which said it will take steps to protect its companies.

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Trump Attacks Fox News in Latest Sign of Strain

President Donald Trump criticized Fox News again Sunday in the latest hint that he is souring on what has been his favorite and most faithful news outlet.

As part of a flurry of afternoon tweets, Trump took the conservative network to task for interviewing Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

“Hard to believe that @FoxNews is wasting airtime on Mayor Pete, as Chris Wallace likes to call him. Fox is moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side in covering the Dems,” Trump wrote, alluding to the Fox interviewer.

Trump added: “Chris Wallace said, ‘I actually think, whether you like his opinions or not, that Mayor Pete has a lot of substance…fascinating biography.’ Gee, he never speaks well of me.”

Trump again mocked Buttigieg, referring to him as Alfred E. Neuman, the goofy, gap-toothed cover boy with protruding ears of U.S. humor magazine Mad.

“Alfred E. Newman will never be president,” Trump wrote, using a more anglicized spelling of the name.

Sunday’s comments were Trump’s most forceful of late against Fox, until now the president’s preferred U.S. news outlet and the one that most often gets to interview him.

Another Trump interview was scheduled on the network for late Sunday.

Trump has been critical of Fox’s coverage of candidates in the crowded race for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2020 election that will pit one of them against Trump.

Last month, Trump took a swipe at Fox after it hosted a town hall meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

“So weird to watch Crazy Bernie on @Fox News,” Trump tweeted.

Trump said the audience “was so smiley and nice. Very strange,” and alleged that it had been packed with Sanders supporters.

The president’s ties with the most Trump-friendly U.S. television network have hit a rough patch since the departure from his administration of two former big names at Fox.

These are Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive who served for nine months as White House communications director — Trump’s fifth — and former Fox news anchor Heather Nauert, who was spokeswoman at the State Department.

Nauert had been promoted to a senior State post and then considered for a while as a potential candidate to replace Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

 

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Trump Attacks Fox News in Latest Sign of Strain

President Donald Trump criticized Fox News again Sunday in the latest hint that he is souring on what has been his favorite and most faithful news outlet.

As part of a flurry of afternoon tweets, Trump took the conservative network to task for interviewing Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

“Hard to believe that @FoxNews is wasting airtime on Mayor Pete, as Chris Wallace likes to call him. Fox is moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side in covering the Dems,” Trump wrote, alluding to the Fox interviewer.

Trump added: “Chris Wallace said, ‘I actually think, whether you like his opinions or not, that Mayor Pete has a lot of substance…fascinating biography.’ Gee, he never speaks well of me.”

Trump again mocked Buttigieg, referring to him as Alfred E. Neuman, the goofy, gap-toothed cover boy with protruding ears of U.S. humor magazine Mad.

“Alfred E. Newman will never be president,” Trump wrote, using a more anglicized spelling of the name.

Sunday’s comments were Trump’s most forceful of late against Fox, until now the president’s preferred U.S. news outlet and the one that most often gets to interview him.

Another Trump interview was scheduled on the network for late Sunday.

Trump has been critical of Fox’s coverage of candidates in the crowded race for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2020 election that will pit one of them against Trump.

Last month, Trump took a swipe at Fox after it hosted a town hall meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

“So weird to watch Crazy Bernie on @Fox News,” Trump tweeted.

Trump said the audience “was so smiley and nice. Very strange,” and alleged that it had been packed with Sanders supporters.

The president’s ties with the most Trump-friendly U.S. television network have hit a rough patch since the departure from his administration of two former big names at Fox.

These are Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive who served for nine months as White House communications director — Trump’s fifth — and former Fox news anchor Heather Nauert, who was spokeswoman at the State Department.

Nauert had been promoted to a senior State post and then considered for a while as a potential candidate to replace Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

 

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Trump Assails Republican Lawmaker Who Called for Impeachment

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday assailed Congressman Justin Amash as “a total lightweight” after the Michigan lawmaker became the first Republican to call for Trump’s impeachment.

The U.S. leader said he was “never a fan” of the five-term member of the House of Representatives, claiming he “opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy.”

Trump said Amash “is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!”

Amash, echoing numerous Democratic lawmakers, claimed that Trump “engaged in impeachable conduct” by attempting to obstruct special counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Some Democratic lawmakers in the House have called for Trump’s impeachment, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not given her approval for the start of any impeachment hearings, while leaving open the possibility as several House committees conduct new investigations of Trump’s business affairs, taxes and his more than two-year tenure in the White House.

Trump has vowed to fight all efforts at subpoenas for information about his conduct and administration policies. Some of the disputes about access to Trump and White House records are already being fought in legal battles, with more likely to come.

Mueller concluded that Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia to help him win the election, but said it could not reach a decision on whether he obstructed justice. Subsequently, Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided obstruction charges were not warranted against Trump.

Amash, after reading the Mueller report, contended in a string of Twitter comments on Saturday that Barr “has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report,” saying that Barr “intended to mislead the public” about Mueller’s findings.

Amash said, “Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment. In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.”

A long-standing Justice Department policy says that sitting U.S. presidents cannot be charged with criminal offenses, but can be charged after they leave office.

Amash said, “Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause that a crime [e.g., obstruction of justice] has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct.”

The congressman said that he thinks “few members of Congress” have read the Mueller report and that “their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation.”

Senator Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican and sometimes Trump critic, told CNN on Sunday that he thinks Amash’s stance was “a courageous statement,” but said that while he was “troubled” by Trump’s conduct as described in the Mueller report, he does not think it rose to the level of the need for impeachment.

Even if the Democratic-controlled House impeached Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate would almost certainly reject removing Trump from office. Romney said, “The Senate is certainly not there yet.”

Trump said that if Amash “actually read the biased Mueller Report, ‘composed’ by 18 Angry Dems who hated Trump, he would see that it was nevertheless strong on NO COLLUSION and, ultimately, NO OBSTRUCTION… Anyway, how do you Obstruct when there is no crime and, in fact, the crimes were committed by the other side?”

 

 

 

 

 

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