by Luis Miguel, The New American:
In a Monday court filing, the lawyer for House Judiciary Committee Democrats revealed that lawmakers may pursue additional articles of impeachment against President Trump, despite the adoption of two last week.
Democrats floated the possibility of new articles as part of Democrats’ court battle to compel former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify.
Before the 4 p.m. deadline set by the D.C. Court of Appeals, the Judiciary Committee’s counsel fired a brief explaining why Democrats still want to hear from McGahn even though they have already had an impeachment vote.
Originally, Democrats hoped for McGahn to testify in regard to his claims to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team that President Trump wanted him to have Mueller fired — a request the president’s critics say would have constituted obstruction of justice.
The Mueller probe did not factor into the adopted impeachment articles, which focused instead on an alleged quid pro quo between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to have the foreign leader investigate the dealings of Joe and Hunter Biden.
Nevertheless, House Democrats’ counsel Douglas Letter argued that McGahn’s testimony could still be relevant to “consideration of whether to recommend additional articles of impeachment” against the president.
“If McGahn’s testimony produces new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the Articles approved by the House, the Committee will proceed accordingly — including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment,” the brief stated, adding that there are still “ongoing impeachment investigations.”
The filing did not specify which new impeachment articles could be considered beyond the current ones for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Letter’s brief stated that McGahn’s testimony could be used in a Senate trial even if no new articles are drafted. Senate impeachment proceedings, which are to be presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, are presently on hold as Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not sent the articles to the higher chamber.
The White House has cited executive privilege to keep McGahn from providing testimony and documents to House investigators during the Russia probe, arguing for the protection of internal administration deliberations. House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N,Y.) later tied the case to impeachment during his inquiry.
The Justice Department claimed in an opposing court filing on Monday that McGahn’s case should be dismissed due to its connection to the impeachment process.
“The article of impeachment addressing purported obstruction of Congress relies in part on the judicial proceedings in this very case,” the DOJ stated in its brief.
“Indeed, if this Court now were to resolve the merits question in this case, it would appear to be weighing in on a contested issue in any impeachment trial,” the Justice Department continued, concluding that the court “should decline the Committee’s request that it enter the fray and instead should dismiss this fraught suit between the political branches for lack of jurisdiction.”
The DOJ also made the case that impeachment removes the committee’s need for expedited consideration. Although the committee had formerly claimed that “speedy judicial action is needed to avoid hampering the House’s impeachment investigation,” the DOJ maintains “justification no longer applies.” Thus, there is no need for action prior to the January 3 oral arguments.
But the committee fired back that time is of the essence due to “ongoing impeachment investigations” and the public’s “significant interest in immediately removing a sitting president whose continuation in office poses a threat to the Nation’s welfare.”
The committee is also seeking the secret grand jury material from the Mueller investigation. According to the Federal Bureau of Criminal Procedure, such material is normally kept secret, with certain exceptions, such as judicial proceedings.
DOJ lawyers told the court on Monday that those grand jury materials are no longer relevant because the impeachment articles did not involve the Russia probe.
“Neither article of impeachment adopted by the House, however, alleges high crimes or misdemeanors stemming from the events described in the Mueller Report. Accordingly, nothing appears to remain of the Committee’s alleged need for the grand-jury materials in the Mueller Report,” the Department’s filing read.