White House orders McGahn not to comply with congressional subpoena

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By Adam Edelman  with NBC News Politics
Image: Don McGahn
Don McGahn listens as Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on Sept. 27, 2018.   -   Copyright  Saul Loeb Pool via AP file

The White House has directed former counsel Donald McGahn not to comply with a congressional subpoena for documents related to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, current White House counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter Tuesday.

McGahn was subpoenaed last month by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., for testimony and documents as part the panel's investigation into possible obstruction of justice by the president and others.

But in a letter to Nadler Tuesday, Cipollone wrote that the subpoena seeks "certain White House records provided" to McGahn when he was White House counsel. Those documents "remain legally protected from disclosure under longstanding constitutional principles, because they implicate significant Executive Branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege," Cipollone said, adding that McGahn "does not have the legal right to disclose these documents."

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has directed McGahn not to produce the subpoenaed White House records, Cipollone continued, adding that the committee should direct any request for those records to the White House.

The development was first reported by ABC News.

While Mueller opted not to charge Trump with obstruction of justice, he laid out efforts by the president to tamper with witnesses and disrupt the investigation. The report said, for example, that Trump ordered McGahn to tell Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that "Mueller has to go."

Nadler said in a statement last month that Mueller's report indicates McGahn "is a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described in the Mueller report."

McGahn's testimony to Congress would help "shed further light on the President's attacks on the rule of law, and his attempts to cover up those actions by lying to the American people and requesting others do the same," Nadler said.

McGahn had faced a Tuesday deadline to turn over several documents subpoenaed by House Democrats.