House panel issues subpoenas for Hope Hicks, Annie Donaldson

Wednesday, 22 May, 2019

Watch in the video player above.

Democrats have, through various House committees, been looking into the finances of the President, his campaign, and the activities that may have constituted an obstruction of justice with regard to the Mueller probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The push comes after the White House has denied a series of requests for information - including a Judiciary Committee subpoena of the un-redacted Mueller report and Trump's tax return information.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, called out Rep. "If he does not immediately correct his mistake, this committee will have no choice but to enforce the subpoena against him", Nadler said in his opening remarks.

She also described McGahn's repeated efforts to try to protect Trump from his worst impulses, and the case he was building against himself in various ways.

CBS News' Rebecca Kaplan reports there's acknowledgment - even from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - that formally opening an impeachment inquiry could strengthen Democrats' argument in their court fight with the president because it would enable Democrats to declare that they have a legitimate and specific legislative objective, rather than broad oversight. A Wednesday court hearing is planned.

Schiff accused the Justice Department of granting Republican lawmakers' document requests and denying demands from Democrats.

But so far, there is still a major division among the caucus - and even among those on the House Judiciary Committee - over whether to move forward with impeachment proceedings, with House leadership still not on board with taking that step. "I'm not sure Nadler has got it right when he says that the Supreme Court has rejected such claims..."

Judiciary members Ted Lieu, David Cicilline and Joe Neguse joined the impeachment inquiry ranks Monday evening, uniting with fellow Democrats Jamie Raskin, Steve Cohen and Val Demings.

Logistically speaking, however, the window of time for the committee to hold a similar vote for McGahn this week is quickly closing, as it has to give 48 hours notice for such a meeting, and many members already have plans to fly out on Thursday for Congress' week-long Memorial Day Weekend recess. Shortly after emerging from that meeting, Nadler said "it's possible" when asked about impeachment hearings.

On "America's Newsroom", Brit Hume told anchor Sandra Smith, "I think on this point that Nadler's position may be weak on the law and some of these other assertions the president is making".

Trump on Monday told McGahn he shouldn't tell Congress about events relating to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and in a letter to Nadler, the attorney for McGahn said he "remains obligated to maintain the status quo and respect the president's instructions". The Democratic-run panel voted to hold Barr in contempt.

When the lawsuit was filed, Trump's private attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement that the president's team "will not allow Congressional Presidential harassment to go unanswered".

White House counsel Donald McGahn will not testify before the House judiciary committee Tuesday. I think the majority of Democrats continue to believe that we need to continue to pursue the avenue that we've been on in trying to elicit information, testimony and review the Mueller report. But House Republican Justin Amash, a frequent Trump critic and outspoken MI conservative, said over the weekend that the president "has engaged in impeachable conduct". They did so just this week, when the administration blocked McGahn from testifying.

The pace of the president's legal fights with Congress is picking up.

Earlier this month, House Democrats questioned an empty chair when Attorney General William Barr failed to appear, citing odd demands from Democrats. The subpoena for Donaldson, who was deputy White House counsel, seeks documents and her appearance at a deposition in June.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone said McGahn is "absolutely immune" from providing testimony.