White House orders McGahn not to comply with congressional subpoena

By Rebecca Kaplan, Grace Segers

/ CBS News

Trump to decide "soon" on executive privilege

The White House has ordered former White House counsel Don McGahn not to comply with a congressional subpoena asking for McGahn to produce documents related to the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a letter obtained by CBS News.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat, saying that McGahn does not have the legal right to disclose the documents to the committee. Cipollone asked that they direct the request for records to the White House.

The White House argues that it had provided documents to McGahn that were requested by the special counsel during the investigation, but "with the clear understanding that the records remain subject to the control of the White House for all purposes," Cipollone wrote.

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"The White House records remain legally protected from exposure under longstanding constitutional principles, because they implicate significant Executive Branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege," Cipollone wrote.

Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, a Republican who has often clashed with Nadler, said in a statement that "when Democrats subpoenaed Don McGahn, they subpoenaed the wrong person." The committee subpoenaed McGahn in April.

"The White House is nevertheless seeking to accommodate Democrats' unwieldy demands. I hope Chairman Nadler accepts this reasonable offer rather than continuing to reject good faith offers to negotiate," Collins said.

The Trump administration has resisted making officials available to Democratic-controlled House committees in recent weeks. Separately, Nadler has scheduled a vote on Wednesday for the committee to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over the full report by the special counsel. Nadler is meeting with the Justice Department Tuesday afternoon over a possible accommodation of the committee's requests.

First published on May 7, 2019 / 11:56 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Rebecca Kaplan

Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.

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