White House orders two former aides to defy House subpoenas

17 Septembre, 2019, 18:02 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • WASHINGTON DC- JULY 24 Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jerry Nadler questions former Special Counsel Robert Mueller as he testifies about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the Rayburn House Of

Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, accused President Donald Trump of a "shocking and dangerous" abuse of executive power Monday night after the White House instructed former aides Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn to defy the panel's subpoenas to testify as part of its investigation into Trump's alleged crimes.

The House Judiciary Committee's hearing is expected to start at 1 p.m. ET Watch live in our player above.

Democrats want to question the three men about an episode described by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller in which Trump allegedly tried to pressure then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to redirect the Russian Federation probe away from his 2016 presidential campaign.

Lewandowski, who is mulling a run for the U.S. Senate, is the first impeachment witness to appear before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee since former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified in July about his probe of Russian election interference and Trump's alleged efforts to impede the investigation.

In June 2017, Trump met Lewandowski, then a private citizen, at the White House and dictated a message he was to deliver to Sessions.

In a letter sent to the panel and obtained by The Associated Press, White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote that the Justice Department has advised, and Trump has directed, Dearborn and Porter to defy subpoenas because of "constitutional immunity".

Another time, Trump told Porter that he wanted then-White House counsel Don McGahn to write a letter to dispute reports that Trump had ordered McGahn to fire Mueller.

The Justice Department wrote in two letters to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone that Porter and Dearborn were "absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony" due to their status as former top advisers to the president.

The Judiciary Committee voted Thursday in favor of a new resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry and further intensifying its investigation into Mr. Trump.

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"Mr. Lewandowski will testify before Congress regarding matters already made public in the Mueller report".

But he also acknowledged that it won't be easy, echoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by saying they will have to have greater consensus than they do now in order to vote on impeachment.

In this January 17, 2018, photo, Rick Dearborn, President Trump's White House deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs, is on Capitol HIll.walks on Capitol Hill.

The President would have us believe that he can willfully engage in criminal activity and prevent witnesses from testifying before Congress -even if they did not actually work for him or his administration.

Republicans contend that the Mueller investigation uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing by Trump and denounce the Democrats' impeachment probe as theatrics meant to pander to voters.

Lewandowski never delivered the message but asked Dearborn - a former Sessions aide - to do it. Dearborn said he was uncomfortable with the request and also declined to deliver it, according to the report.

Rob Porter, a former staff secretary in the White House, was in the room for several episodes investigated by Mueller's team. He resigned past year after public allegations of domestic violence by his two ex-wives.

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