WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday revived House Democrats’ lawsuit to induce former White House counsel Don McGahn to appear before a congressional committee, but left other legal issues unresolved with time growing short in the current Congress.
The complete U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit voted 7-2 in ruling that the House Judiciary Committee will make its claims in court, reversing the judgment of a three-judge panel that would have ended the court struggle.
The issue now returns to the board for consideration of other legal difficulties. The existing House of Representatives session finishes on Jan. 3. That time crunch means”the chances that the Committee hears McGahn’s testimony soon are vanishingly slim,” dissenting Judge Thomas Griffith wrote. Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson dissented.
A distinct case where the House is wanting to stop the Trump government from spending billions of dollars that Congress did not authorize for the wall to the U.S.-Mexico border also was returned to a lower court.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the administration would continue to seek dismissal of both scenarios.
“While we strongly disagree with all the standing ruling in McGahn, the en banc court properly recognized that we have added threshold grounds for dismissal of both cases, and we plan to aggressively press those arguments before the panels hearing these instances,” Kupec said.
The government could eventually appeal the outcomes to the Supreme Court, which rejected arguments by President Donald Trump to invalidate other congressional subpoenas for his financial records.
Court cases over the testimony of presidential advisers are rare because the White House and Congress normally reach an arrangement, and Friday’s ruling, if left untreated, could enhance congressional influence in future disputes.
The Judiciary Committee first subpoenaed McGahn in April 2019 as it analyzed potential obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump during special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Trump led McGahn to not look and the panel filed a lawsuit to force McGahn to testify.
A trial judge ruled in November that the president’s close consultants don’t have the complete immunity from testifying to Congress that the administration claimed. Once the appellate panel said that the Constitution forbids federal courts from refereeing this type of dispute between the other two branches of 32, griffith and Henderson formed the majority.
On Friday, the complete court said the panel reached the incorrect choice. Lawmakers can request the courts”for judicial enforcement of congressional subpoenas when required,” Judge Judith Rogers wrote.