White House counsel Pat Cipollone told Don McGahn not to comply with a congressional subpoena for documents. Cipollone gave the instruction in a letter to McGahn’s attorney Tuesday.
The subpoena’s deadline for turning over the documents is Tuesday.
Cipollone on Tuesday also wrote to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, who had issued the subpoena, claiming that McGahn did “not have the legal right” to produce the documents to Congress. Cipollone told Nadler that he needed to request the documents directly from the White House.
In a letter McGahn’s attorney wrote to Nadler on Tuesday, he indicated McGahn plans to follow the White House’s order that he not turn over the documents.
“Where co-equal branches of government are making contradictory demands on Mr. McGahn concerning the same set of documents, the appropriate response for Mr. McGahn is to maintain the status quo unless and until the Committee and the Executive Branch can reach an accommodation,” the attorney Bill Burck said.
McGahn, who served as President Trump’s White House counsel for the first year and a half of his administration, was a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s obstruction probe.
Nadler issued a subpoena last month seeking scores of documents from McGahn, including those related to Trump’s efforts to pressure or oust top DOJ officials over the Mueller probe.
The committee is also seeking that McGahn testify before lawmakers.
In his letter to McGahn’s personal attorney, Cipollone said that the documents provided to Mueller’s investigation “remain the subject to the control of the White House for all purposes.”
“The White House records remain legally protected from disclosure under longstanding constitutional principles, because they implicate significant Executive Branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege,” Cipollone said.
Cipollone said that the instruction not to comply came from acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and that the Justice Department agreed with the position.
Read the White House letters to McGahn and Nadler below below, as well as McGahn’s letter to Nadler: