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White House directs Don McGahn to withhold subpoenaed documents

The White House has directed former counsel Don McGahn not to comply with a subpoena from Congress.

McGahn has been instructed by Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney not to turn over documents that have been subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said on Tuesday, The New York Times reports.

Democrats subpoenaed documents from McGahn, who spoke with Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his probe into whether the president obstructed justice during the Russia investigation. A key episode in the report, for instance, detailed Trump telling McGahn to have Mueller removed as special counsel because he "has conflicts." Trump has claimed he did not order McGahn to fire Mueller.

McGahn was given a May 7 deadline to give Congress documents related to the Mueller investigation. But in his letter to House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Cipollone argues that McGahn "does not have the legal right to disclose these documents."

McGahn's lawyer in a letter to the committee said that he "continues to owe certain duties and obligations to the president which he is not free to disregard" and will "maintain the status quo unless and until the committee and the executive branch can reach an accommodation," The Wall Street Journal reports.

This comes after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday told ABC that she does "not anticipate" that McGahn will be allowed to comply with the subpoena from Democrats because "we consider this to be a case closed and we're moving forward to do the work of the American people."

The Washington Post reports that Democrats have been weighing a contempt citation for McGahn if he didn't comply, with experts saying the former White House counsel may have to "choose between Trump and a possible contempt of Congress charge."