- A three-judge federal appeals court panel ruled on Monday that the House Judiciary Committee cannot sue to enforce its subpoena to former White House counsel Don McGahn.
- The panel’s ruling is a massive blow to the legislative branch’s subpoena power and said Congress must first pass a law authorizing such subpoenas before suing to have them enforced.
- “Because the Committee lacks a cause of action to enforce its subpoena, this lawsuit must be dismissed,” the 2-1 ruling said.
- The House has been trying to compel McGahn’s testimony about his knowledge of President Donald Trump’s behaviour surrounding the Russia probe since the spring of 2019 and will almost certainly appeal the ruling.
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A federal appeals court ruled on Monday that the House Judiciary Committee does not have the authority to enforce its subpoena to former White House counsel Don McGahn.
The three-judge panel ruled that Congress must first pass a law authorizing the legislative body to enforce subpoenas.
“Because the Committee lacks a cause of action to enforce its subpoena, this lawsuit must be dismissed,” the 2-1 ruling said. “We note that this decision does not preclude Congress (or one of its chambers) from ever enforcing a subpoena in federal court; it simply precludes it from doing so without first enacting a statute authorizing such a suit.”
Monday’s ruling is a significant setback for the House of Representatives, which has been trying to force McGahn to testify since the spring of 2019 about his knowledge of President Donald Trump’s behaviour during the Russia probe. McGahn told the special counsel Robert Mueller’s team Trump sought to obstruct the investigation into Russia’s election interference several times.
This is the second time the appeals court panel has denied the House Judiciary Committee’s request to compel McGahn’s testimony.
However, last month, the full circuit court bench in a 7-2 ruling tossed out the three-judge panel’s ruling on the matter and said the House had grounds to sue to force McGahn to testify. But it added that McGahn could still challenge the House’s subpoena on other grounds and remanded the case to the three-judge panel for review.
“The judgment of the district court is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion,” Monday’s ruling said.
The House Judiciary Committee will almost certainly appeal the decision and again ask the full court’s bench to reexamine the case.