Sara Carter: The Department of Justice issued a memorandum to President Donald Trump’s legal counsel Monday stating that “Congress may not constitutionally compel the President’s senior advisors to testify about their official duties.”
The memorandum was in direct response to current Trump counsel Pat Cipollone’s question as to whether Trump’s former White House Counsel Don McGahn is legally required to appear before the committee to testify. The House Judiciary Committee subpoenas McGahn to testify specifically about matters regarding Special Counsel Robert Muller’s report.
The DOJ’s eight page memorandum, written by Assistant Attorney General Steve Engel, clearly argues the separation of powers and states that “Congress could not lawfully exercise any inherent contempt authority against Mr. McGahn for asserting immunity. The constitutional separation of powers bars Congress from exercising its inherent contempt power in the face of a presidential assertion of executive privilege.”
Last week, Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, threatened he was prepared to have his panel vote to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress if did not appear before the committee on Tuesday. It would be a contempt citation and could result in the House turning to a federal court to try to enforce its subpoena but the memorandum makes clear that there is a separation of powers issue that must be considered. read more