Former White House Counsel Don McGahn made it official: He will be a no-show at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, defying a subpoena and threats of enforcement from House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). In a letter to Nadler, McGahn's lawyer cites Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel's "detailed and persuasive" memo on why McGahn should say no, and the stated wishes of McGahn's "former client," President Trump.
There are other reasons that may be factoring in McGahn's decision, too. "If McGahn were to defy Trump and testify before Congress, it could endanger his own career in Republican politics and put his law firm, Jones Day, in the president's crosshairs," The Washington Post notes. "Trump has mused about instructing Republicans to cease dealing with the firm, which is deeply intertwined in Washington with the GOP." In fact, according to a new Federal Election Commission filing itemized by ProPublica, the Republican National Committee's top expense in April was $2 million for "legal and compliance services" to Jones Day, out of $14.3 million total spending last month.
Trump's motives are more clear. "Trump has fumed about McGahn for months, after it became clear that much of Mueller’s report was based on his testimony," the Post reports. "The president has bashed his former White House counsel on Twitter and has insisted to advisers that the attorney not be allowed to humiliate him in front of Congress, much as his former personal legal fixer Michael Cohen did."
Previous administrations have also held that close presidential advisers like the White House counsel are immune from compelled congressional testimony about their White House work, though a federal judge disagreed in 2008, the Post reports, ruing that former White House Counsel Harriet Miers had to at least show up to congressional hearings.