AIN Update

Nov. 8, 2019

Two former Trump administration officials, White House counsel Donald McGahn and Deputy National Security Advisor Charles Kupperman, have turned to the U.S. District Court to answer a vital separation of powers question: Are high-level administrative staffers required to respond to congressional subpoenas? 

Instigating a new legal challenge to Congress’ ability to subpoena administrative officials, the two lawsuits directly relate to Congress’ power and constitutional duty to oversee the executive branch’s actions in a direct and meaningful way. 

Given the president’s clear directives (and bold actions) to prevent previous and current employees from complying with Congress’ attempts to investigate his administration, subpoenaed individuals are in a legal limbo between an extended definition of executive privilege and Congress’ demand to testify. 

On Nov. 7, the House withdrew its subpoena for Mr. Kupperman because of the delay his lawsuit would cause in House impeachment investigation proceedings. 

The outcome of the McGahn case is extremely important to Congress’ ability to oversee the executive branch. All involved parties, including the Justice Department and the U.S. District Court, should expedite the conclusion of this lawsuit. As U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon stated recently regarding Kupperman’s case, “When it’s a matter of this consequence to this country, you roll your sleeves up and get the job done.”