House committee raises prospect of more impeachment articles
WASHINGTON - The House Judiciary Committee held open the possibility Monday of recommending additional articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump as it pressed anew for the testimony of former White House counsel Don McGahn.
The committee wants a federal appeals court to order McGahn to testify as it examines potential obstruction of justice by the president during special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. The committee says McGahn's testimony could also be useful for any Senate impeachment trial.
A judge last month directed McGahn to comply with the House Judiciary Committee subpoena, and a Washington-based appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments Jan. 3.
In a court filing Monday, lawyers for the committee said McGahn's testimony remains essential even though the House has already voted to impeach Trump on two charges related to his interactions with Ukraine rather than on actions uncovered during Mueller's Russia probe.
“If McGahn’s testimony produces new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the Articles approved by the House, the Committee will proceed accordingly — including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment," lawyers for the Democratic-led committee wrote.
The committee also said McGahn's testimony is important for the committee's oversight role of the FBI and the Justice Department, “including in determining whether those agencies are operating free from improper political interference."
Democrats on the Judiciary Committee subpoenaed McGahn well before the start this fall of an impeachment inquiry centered around Trump's request to Ukraine's president that he investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, as well as an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory alleging Ukraine's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The Justice Department has asked the appeals court to dismiss the case, saying there's no reason for judges to become involved in a political dispute.
The department also says the need for resolving the case is less urgent now that the House has moved ahead with impeachment articles even without McGahn's testimony.
But the committee disagrees.
“The House’s vote on the Articles of Impeachment against President Trump underscores the Committee’s urgent need for expedited consideration of this appeal," lawyers for the panel wrote.
“As discussed above, McGahn’s testimony is critical both to a Senate trial and to the Committee’s ongoing impeachment investigations to determine whether additional Presidential misconduct warrants further action by the Committee," they added.