Press Releases

House Judiciary Files Petition for Rehearing in Lawsuit for Testimony of Former WH Counsel Don McGahn

Washington, March 6, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Judiciary Committee filed a petition for rehearing before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in its litigation to enforce its subpoena to former White House Counsel Don McGahn.  Last Friday, a divided three-judge panel held that the judiciary has no place resolving these types of disputes.  As today’s petition argues, “this unprecedented ruling compels the attention of the full Court.” 

"The Committee’s petition argues that the panel’s ruling misread binding precedent and—if allowed to stand—would severely undermine the House’s ability to perform its constitutional functions as a check on the Executive Branch," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).  "In fact, none other than President Trump’s own lawyers told the American people over and over again during the impeachment trial that the House should have gone to court to enforce its subpoenas.  In addition, two of the three judges on the panel strongly suggested that they would reject President Trump’s claim of 'absolute immunity' if they were able to reach the merits of the case.  The full Court should promptly rehear this case and make clear, once and for all, that White House aides cannot ignore subpoenas from Congress.  Now more than ever, the courts cannot abandon their responsibility to resolve these critical legal disputes."

Full text of the petition can be found here


  • Former White House Counsel Don McGahn was subpoenaed to testify before the Judiciary Committee on May 21, 2019.  He was a central witness to multiple episodes of obstruction of justice by President Trump with respect to matters investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  His testimony would also facilitate important legislative efforts as the Committee considers measures to prevent the White House from interfering in law enforcement matters.
  • The day before McGahn’s scheduled appearance, the Trump Administration issued a legal opinion claiming he was “absolutely immune” from the Committee’s subpoena.  After multiple attempts to reach an accommodation with the Trump Administration, the Committee filed its lawsuit in August and sought an expedited ruling. 
  • On November 25, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia definitively rejected the President’s claim of “absolute immunity” for McGahn.  Last Friday, however, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. 
  • Two of the three judges on the panel strongly suggested that President Trump’s “absolute immunity” claims would fail if the court were able to decide the case on the merits.