Today, former White House Counsel Don McGahn defied a Congressional subpoena at the direction of the President and failed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee. Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, released the following statement following his absence from the scheduled hearing.
"Today, Don McGahn was supposed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. He was willing to appear, but the President had instructed him not to, and McGahn, although no longer employed by the White House, was afraid to defy his former boss.
"Congress has patiently tried to work within traditional means to get to the bottom of this extraordinary situation. But, we have reached an inflection point. The President's refusal to produce evidence or permit witness testimony defies not only the rule of law but the basic protections of our Constitution. No one is above the rule of law. The time has come to start an impeachment inquiry because the American people deserve to know the truth and to have the opportunity to judge the gravity of the evidence and charges leveled against the President.
"This is by no means an easy decision, nor should it be. We took an oath to uphold our constitution and the President's efforts to cover up his acts, and those of his campaign and administration, threaten the foundation of our democracy.
"It has been nearly two months since Special Counsel Robert Mueller sent his long-awaited report to the Attorney General, a report that detailed both an expansive effort by the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election, and efforts by the President to undermine that investigation. The report detailed multiple acts of obstruction of justice by the President and sought to refer the matter to Congress for further action.
"At every turn, the President, with the active assistance of Attorney General Barr, has engaged in a massive campaign to mischaracterize and suppress both the evidence and conclusions of the Mueller Report. And those efforts continue. The President has instructed the Department of Justice not to release the full report to Congress and the American people, blocked access to the underlying evidence collected by the Special Counsel, and blocked witnesses under subpoena by Congress from testifying through a combination of intimidation and nonsense legal claims.
"Congress and the American people deserved answers from Don McGahn today and here's why:
The Special Counsel's report detailed how the President repeatedly asked McGahn to fire the Special Counsel after the President learned that his own conduct was under investigation.
McGahn refused, believing, correctly, that such an act constituted obstruction of justice. McGahn's testimony to the Special Counsel is corroborated by both his notes and other witnesses, although the White House has refused access to that evidence.
When the media reported that the President had instructed McGahn to fire the Special Counsel, the President then began a campaign to get McGahn to falsely deny that the President had told him to fire the Special Counsel.
The President suggested that McGahn create fake documents to support the President's lies about whether he had instructed McGahn to get rid of the Special Counsel.
When McGahn refused to lie, and it became apparent that he would be asked to testify to Congress, the President began to disparage him in public.
The President also fired McGahn's law firm; the firm had been paid over $5.5 million for representing the Trump campaign since 2016.
"The President's attempts to prevent witnesses from testifying is either evidence itself of obstruction and a clear signal that the President fears whatever the witnesses have to say. These efforts are not exclusive to this investigation, but to several issues critical to the American people -- the people we took an oath to protect and represent. The President has also withheld information about healthcare enrollment data, how many children have been separated from their families at our border, and misrepresented reports about the quality of our water and air.
"Congress will proceed with its constitutional obligation with or without the President's cooperation and those who choose to ignore it, by impeding this valid investigation by Congress, may find themselves complicit in the efforts of this President to hide the truth.
"At least one of our Republican colleagues has reached the same conclusion after reading and analyzing the Special Counsel's Report himself, instead of repeating the President's misleading spin. No one who has read the report believes that is says "No Obstruction, No Collusion.'
"The President cannot be trusted by Americans and the world. Having the courage to not only think about the long-term consequences of this administration, including our position in the world, the foundation of our republic, and the rule of law should not be partisan. It is the courage that we as Americans must have, together."