White House directs McGahn not to testify

McGahn declined to say Trump didn’t obstruct justice

The White House has directed former White House counsel Don McGahn not to appear before Congress, backed by a Justice Department legal opinion released Monday claiming Congress cannot compel the former White House lawyer to testify. The White House has informed the House Judiciary Committee that McGahn will not be showing up Tuesday, when he had been subpoenaed and scheduled to testify. McGahn never publicly committed to testifying.

“The immunity of the president’s immediate advisers from compelled congressional testimony on matters related to their official responsibilities has long been recognized and arises from the fundamental workings of the separation of powers,” the Office of Legal Counsel opinion reads. “Those principles apply to the former White House Counsel. Accordingly, Mr. McGahn is not legally required to appear and testify about matters related to his official duties as counsel to the president.”

McGahn is a key figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, as he told Mueller’s team the president on multiple occasions directed him to fire Mueller, an order McGahn refused.

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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement saying that the move to keep McGahn from testifying “has been taken to ensure that future Presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the office of the presidency.”

And in a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, current White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote, “There is no question that the position of counsel to the president falls within the scope of the immunity.”

Mr. Trump had already suggested he didn’t think McGahn should testify.

“I’ve had him testifying already for 30 hours and it’s really — so I don’t think I can let him and then tell everybody else you can’t,” Trump said Thursday. “Especially him, because he was a counsel, so they’ve testified for many hours, all of them, many, many, many people. I can’t say, ‘Well, one can and the others can’t.’ I would say it’s done.”

CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid and CBS News’ Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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