House Democrats are making the next step to secure former White House counsel Don McGahn’s testimony by taking the fight to court, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said on Sunday.
The New York Democrat said on “Fox News Sunday” that he plans on bringing his case to court “within a couple of days.”
“If the House counsel weren’t so busy enforcing subpoenas, other subpoenas. We would have done that before,” he said.
Mr. Nadler slammed the president for “stonewalling” Congress by refusing to cooperate on subpoenas for documents and testimony from his administration officials. He noted that the articles of impeached filed against President Nixon cited, in part, his refusal to cooperate with Congress.
Last month, the House passed a resolution that allowed all committee chairmen to go straight to court to enforce their subpoenas, which covered Mr. McGahn’s case, thereby skipping the need for a full floor vote each time.
That resolution also held Mr. McGahn in civil contempt along with Attorney General William Barr for not cooperating with Judiciary Committee requests to testify about the Mueller report.
Democrats are looking to grill Mr. McGahn on what President Trump told him about firing then-special counsel Robert Mueller and concealing it from Congress and the public — something detailed in the redacted version of the Mueller report.
The former White House counsel’s answers will get at the heart of Democratic efforts to prove Mr. Trump obstructed justice, which Mr. Nadler said could amount to “criminal acts.”
The Judiciary Committee is also eyeing additional testimony from Hope Hicks, a former Trump administration official, to clarify what she knew about alleged hush money payments from Michael Cohen, the longtime personal lawyer and “fixer” for Mr. Trump.
The payments were allegedly made at the direction of the president during the 2016 presidential campaign to cover up claims by Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels of adulterous affairs with Mr. Trump.
Court documents released last week, in the wrap-up of the Cohen campaign finance investigation, appeared to show that both Mr. Trump and Ms. Hicks had a role to play in the hush-money scheme.
Robert Trout, a lawyer for Ms. Hicks, said his client told the truth about being involved in the hush-money payments and plans to respond to Mr. Nadler’s request to clarify her testimony.
“Ms. Hicks stands by her truthful testimony that she first became aware of this issue in early November 2016, as the result of press inquiries,” he said.
Democrats have taken to issuing subpoenas and in some cases holding key members of the administration in contempt of Congress as the White House resists Democrat’s requests for cooperation on several different investigations.
Another escalation in tensions on that front came Wednesday, when House Democrats voted to hold Mr. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr. in criminal contempt on a different matter — attempts by the Oversight committee to probe the admonition’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
Though ultimately a symbolic vote — the criminal aspect would require Mr. Barr to prosecute himself — Democrats argue it was necessary to push back against the executive branch and could help make their case in upcoming legal battles.
The threat of contempt is looming over other admonition officials as well — including counselor Kellyanne Conway, who refused to appear before the Oversight committee and testify on claims she has repeatedly violated the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from politicking on the government’s dime.