This morning, a whole lot of confusion – and thus a whole lot of hand wringing on the part of the fatalists – occurred when the Trump White House told Don McGahn that he didn’t have a legal right to turn over certain documents to the House Judiciary Committee. This has been widely misinterpreted as Trump trying to stop McGahn from testifying before the committee. But that is not at all the case, because that’s not how anything works.
As Palmer Report has spelled out several times, and every legal expert worth their salt has echoed, there is literally nothing that Donald Trump can do to stop a former employee like Don McGahn from testifying before Congress. It’s not that such a move by Trump would be illegal; it’s that there isn’t even a move to make. Short of Trump tying McGahn’s shoelaces together while he’s walking up the steps of Capitol Hill, McGahn will testify. This is not a prediction, it’s a fact. It’s simply how things work.
Of course that hasn’t stopped the doomsday histrionics from playing out on cable news and social media. It’s a common tactic for an employer to claim that a former employee isn’t in legal possession of certain documents or physical evidence, and therefore can’t turn it over. This will be quickly debated in court, and a judge will decide. But this has nothing to do with McGahn testifying, which is already a done deal. That goes for Robert Mueller as well. He’s still technically a DOJ employee, but if Trump or Barr tries to instruct him not to testify, he’ll simply resign. Mueller’s spokesman said last week that Mueller is planning to be off the job in “the coming days” anyway.
Even as some folks are pushing the false narrative that Don McGahn has decided not to testify, other folks are pushing the false narrative that because the documents may not get turned over, McGahn won’t have anything to testify about. This is complete nonsense. At the least, McGahn can testify about everything that’s in the publicly released version of the Mueller report – and McGahn is mentioned in it more than a hundred times.
We’ll say it again, just in case anyone is tempted to listen to those who have no idea what they’re talking about: there is LITERALLY NOTHING that Donald Trump can do to stop Don McGahn and Robert Mueller from publicly testifying – it’s why Trump isn’t even trying. In fact, by telling McGahn that he’s not allowed to turn over the documents, but saying nothing about his testimony, Trump just tacitly conceded that he knows he can’t stop it.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report