WASHINGTON — A House chairman on Monday subpoenaed former White House Counsel Don McGahn as Democratic leaders moved to deepen their investigation of President Donald Trump but at the same time bottle up talk among their rank-and-file of impeaching him after the damning details of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler was one of six powerful committee leaders making their case on a conference call with other House Democrats late in the day that they are effectively investigating Trump-related matters ranging from potential obstruction to his personal and business taxes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged divided Democrats to focus on fact-finding rather than the prospect of any impeachment proceedings.
Nadler and the other chairmen made clear they believe Trump did obstruct justice, according to people on the call. McGahn would be a star witness for any such case because he refused Trump’s demand to set Mueller’s firing in motion, according to the report.
“The Special Counsel’s report, even in redacted form, outlines substantial evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction and other abuses,” Nadler said in a statement released as the conference call got underway. “It now falls to Congress to determine for itself the full scope of the misconduct and to decide what steps to take in the exercise of our duties of oversight, legislation and constitutional accountability.”
The subpoena angered Republicans even as it functioned as a reassurance to impatient Democrats.
Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel, pointed out that McGahn sat for 30 hours of interviews with Mueller and said Nadler was asking for some items that he knows cannot be produced.
Trump himself insisted he wasn’t worried.
“Not even a little bit,” he said when asked Monday whether he was concerned about impeachment. However, his many tweets seeking to undermine the report’s credibility indicate he is hardly shrugging it aside.
“Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment,” he said Monday on Twitter. “There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach. It was the Democrats that committed the crimes, not your Republican President!”
On the other end of the scale, Pelosi’s approach disappointed some Democrats who are agitating for impeachment proceedings.