US judiciary: The White House is obliged to respect the summons issued by Congress

 Senior US officials and former White House officials must comply with congressional subpoenas, a ruling that could affect an investigation to isolate President Donald Trump, a US judge said Monday. .

Judge Kitanji Brown Jackson's decision concerns former White House attorney Don McGann, who has been summoned to appear before the Congressional Judiciary Committee.

The Justice Department told AFP that it intends to appeal this decision, indicating a long judicial battle ahead in the context of the confrontation between Democrats and Republicans.

The judge pointed out that administration officials could not receive absolute immunity based on their closeness to the president.

"The bottom line of the last 250 years of American history is that presidents are not kings," the federal judge wrote. "No one, even the chief executive, is above the law," she said.

"There is no need to say that the law applies to former White House attorney Don McGann, as well as to current and former senior White House officials."

"This court concluded that individuals who are invited to testify before a congressional hearing must be present in person." She stressed that "they cannot ignore or challenge" these calls "by order of the president or others."

But she noted that they are free to make no statement when they come to Congress.

McCann is a key witness to special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who investigated for two years about Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and suspected Trump's attempt to block the work of the judiciary.

Mueller submitted his report to Congress to draw conclusions. But the parliamentary inquiry has stalled in the absence of access to key witnesses such as McGann.

At the same time, Democrats have launched measures to isolate Trump in a case concerning Ukraine. President Trump is suspected of pressuring his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelinsky to investigate Joe Biden, his potential rival in the upcoming presidential election.

In both cases, Trump used his presidential powers to prevent former aides and White House officials from cooperating in the Democratic investigation.

The latest court decision could open the door for the Intelligence Committee, which is preparing charges to isolate Trump, to force three officials to appear before it - former national security adviser John Bolton, White House chief of staff Mick Malviny and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

All of them are believed to have first-hand knowledge of Trump's alleged demand that Ukrainian President Zelensky open investigations into Biden in exchange for a high-level summit and the much-needed military aid Kiev.

"For those witnesses who are hiding behind false allegations of absolute immunity, this decision once again shows how their positions remain worthless," Adam Schiff, head of the intelligence committee, said in a statement.

He continued: "Witnesses who defied Congress on the President's order will have to decide whether their duty to the country or a president who believes it is above the law."

The verdict could revive Trump's obstruction of the investigation into Russian meddling in the US presidential election led by Special Adviser Mueller.

Muller's final report, published in April, identified 10 Trump acts suspected of obstructing the judiciary.

"Don McGgan is a key witness to allegations that President Trump has obstructed Muller's investigation," Chief Justice Jerry Nadler said in a statement.

"The administration's claim that officials can claim" absolute immunity "from congressional subpoenas is legally unfounded, as the court acknowledged today."

But these crucial testimonies will not happen immediately, as the Justice Department plans to challenge Judge Jackson's decision, said spokesman Kerry Cupk.

This could lead to the Supreme Court and, at the same time, the department could seek a judicial decision to prevent McGgan or others from speaking to the committees.

With the likelihood of being the third US president to face formal charges of his removal, after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, Trump became furious and launched several attacks against rivals leading his efforts to isolate him.

 

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