The federal judge in Washington who ordered former White House counsel Don McGahn to comply with a congressional subpoena will not put that ruling on hold while it’s appealed.
U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson denied Monday the administration’s request for a stay. The administration has already asked an appeals court to put on hold her order from last week that McGahn testify. The appeals court has put the ruling on an administrative hold, and has scheduled briefing and oral arguments on the merits of the appeal.
On Monday, the judge said that the Justice Department could not “make a persuasive showing of irreparable harm in the absence of a colorable argument that McGahn’s mere appearance before the Judiciary Committee would, in and of itself, be harmful.”
She also brought up the House Judiciary Committee’s emphasis, in opposing the stay request, on the possibility that McGahn could testify for the ongoing impeachment proceedings.
“[T]the Judiciary Committee would almost certainly lose the chance to question McGahn as part of the present impeachment inquiry if a stay order issues, which would unquestionably harm the ongoing investigation that the Judiciary Committee is conducting, and by extension, would also injure the public’s interest in thorough and well-informed impeachment proceedings,” she said.
The underlying lawsuit was filed in August, after McGahn blew off requests for his testimony dating back from last spring. The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the former White House counsel as part of its investigation into Trump for obstruction of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
The Trump administration claimed that McGahn, as a former top advisor to the President, had absolute immunity that allowed the President to direct him to not show up for the compelled testimony.
Judge Jackson said last week that the President could not issue such a directive.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said that the administrative stay would last “pending further order of” the appeals court. It has scheduled oral arguments for Jan. 3.
Read Judge Jackson’s opinion denying the stay request below: