(CNN) — A federal judge decided Monday that President Donald Trump’s former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify to the House of Representatives in its impeachment probe.
“However busy or essential a presidential aide might be, and whatever their proximity to sensitive domestic and national-security projects, the President does not have the power to excuse him or her from taking an action that the law requires,” Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote.
The ruling is a blow to Trump and White House efforts to block parts of the impeachment inquiry. It could encourage resistant witnesses from the administration to testify and could bolster any case House Democrats make to impeach the President for obstructing its proceedings or obstructing justice.
The House Judiciary Committee has been trying to force McGahn to testify since April about the President’s attempts to obstruct the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. The committee says it still has an urgent need to hear from the key witnesses from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The Justice Department is likely to appeal Monday’s ruling. The agency, representing McGahn and the White House, may need to act quickly if the House seeks McGahn’s testimony soon and he still refuses.
If McGahn were to appear for testimony, he still may be able to refuse to answer questions, citing executive privilege.