On November 25, 2019, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia issued a ruling that ordered former White House Counsel for President Trump, Don McGahn, to appear before Congress. McGahn did not appear or respond to a Congressional subpoena from April 2019. At that time, Congress wanted McGahn to testify based on the findings of The Mueller Report.
The Trump Administration has consistently blocked senior advisors from appearing before Congress asserting “executive privilege” meaning that confidential information shared between the President and his senior advisors could not be shared publicly. This ruling, if upheld, could mean that McGahn and other senior Trump officials (like Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor John Bolton) will need to appear before Congress. It is possible that McGahn could respond to questions by asserting executive privilege, but he cannot ignore the subpoena outright and refuse to appear.
According to The New York Times, Judge Jackson’s ruling does not dispute the existence of executive privilege; however, it does state that “Presidents are not kings” recognizing the fact that there are three branches of government who apply checks and balances to one another.
Judge Jackson’s ruling is being appealed by the Department of Justice to the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. Beyond this appeal, it would fall into the Supreme Court’s purview. It is unclear whether the Supreme Court would take the case as they take about 2% of the 7,000 cases filed with it.
Because McGahn’s subpoena was pertaining to the Mueller case, it will not impact the proceedings or the timeline of the House of Representatives’ impeachment case against the President. Following public testimony last week, the House Intelligence Committee is drafting a report for the House Judiciary Committee which is expected to be delivered shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has previously said that if the House votes to impeach Trump, the Senate trial would not convene until early 2020.