McGahn to Testify to Congress at Private Hearing Over Russia

Former White House Counsel Donald McGahn will testify to Congress at a private hearing about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to court papers, ending a long-running legal fight over his testimony.

Members of the public will not be permitted to watch the testimony, though a transcript will eventually be released publicly, according to a federal court filing Wednesday night in Washington that detailed a compromise negotiated between the Biden administration and Democrats in the House of Representatives.

The testimony will come “as soon as possible,” lawyers for the House and the U.S. Department of Justice said in the filing.

The legal dispute stemmed from McGahn’s refusal to comply with a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee seeking to force him to testify about Russian election interference. House Democrats sued McGahn, a legal adviser to former President Donald Trump, to enforce the subpoena, triggering years of complex litigation.

After President Joe Biden took office, it was unclear whether the Justice Department would continue to oppose the House subpoena in court, or attempt to strike a compromise to avoid protracted litigation. While Democrats were largely united in calling for McGahn to testify during Trump’s presidency, White House lawyers under Biden appeared reluctant to set a precedent that could allow Republicans in Congress to subpoena Biden administration officials.

In a joint filing in Washington on Wednesday, the two sides announced a deal. The interview with McGahn will be limited to a set number of topics, including the events described in the publicly available portion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference.

“The law requires that when there is a dispute in court between the legislative and executive branches, the two must work in good faith to find a compromise -- and I am pleased that we have reached an arrangement that satisfies our subpoena, protects the Committee’s constitutional duty to conduct oversight in the future, and safeguards sensitive executive branch prerogatives,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

Attendance at the hearing will be limited to members of the Judiciary Committee, as well lawyers for McGahn, the House Democrats, the House Republicans, and the Justice Department. The parties will be given no more than a week to review the transcript for accuracy before it’s released to the public, according to the filing.

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