Democrats could move forward with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump even if they never secure testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said on Monday.
“Yes, we can,” Nadler said, when asked whether it would be possible to advance articles of impeachment through his committee even if the former top White House lawyer — and crucial witness to alleged obstruction of justice by Trump — dodged a subpoena for public testimony.
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“McGahn … is relevant to one potential article of impeachment, which is obstruction of justice,” Nadler said, adding: “On the other hand, there’s a lot of testimony we have without McGahn. Second of all, there are other possible articles of impeachment to which McGahn is irrelevant.”
Nadler’s comments were notable as his committee prepares to embrace procedures that it says will help expedite Democrats’ investigation of whether to bring articles of impeachment against Trump. Though the committee has been trying to collect evidence on several episodes of potential obstruction — first laid out by special counsel Robert Mueller — lawmakers are also eyeing allegations that Trump paid hush money to silence two women who have accused him of affairs, that he is using his luxury resorts to profit off his government service, and that he was seeking a business deal in Russia while campaigning in 2016.
McGahn has, in many ways, been viewed as a linchpin of the Judiciary Committee’s probe. He was Mueller’s chief witness to allegations of obstruction by Trump, describing multiple attempts and orders by the president to constrain or fire the special counsel. But so far, McGahn has refused to cooperate with a Judiciary Committee subpoena to testify, blocked by Trump’s claim that his former aide is “absolutely immune” from congressional inquiry.
The matter is being litigated in U.S. District Court in Washington, a process expected to take at least two months to resolve, not counting appeals or delays.
But Nadler’s comments open up the possibility that the committee could decide that it has a critical mass of evidence without McGahn’s direct testimony.
Nadler declined to say whether he had a rough timetable to finish the committee’s work on potential impeachment, especially given the approaching 2020 election.
“I can’t do that,” he said. “We’re going to do it as rapidly as possible.