Democrats could use the impeachment impasse between the Senate and House to approve new articles of impeachment against the president.
The House Judiciary Committee has not ruled out the possibility of recommending further articles of impeachment against Donald Trump while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) postpones sending articles to the Senate that have already been passed.
The committee is also pressing for former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify at an impeachment trial in the Senate, through having a federal appeals court order the former civil servant to stand as a so-called witness.
“If McGahn’s testimony produces new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the articles approved by the House, the committee will proceed accordingly—including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment,” lawyers representing the committee said in court documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The lawyers describe McGahn’s testimony as essential even though the Democratic-led House has already voted to impeach Trump on two charges related to his diplomatic relations with Ukraine. The president was charged with no alleged actions uncovered by former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
“The House’s vote on the articles of impeachment against President Trump underscores the committee’s urgent need for expedited consideration of this appeal,” lawyers said. “McGahn’s testimony is critical both to a Senate trial and to the committee’s ongoing impeachment investigations to determine whether additional presidential misconduct warrants further action by the committee.”
The Department of Justice maintains the appeals court should dismiss the committee’s case because there is no legitimate reason for judges to be involved in a political fight that began when Trump won the 2016 general election.
The department has also downgraded the priority of reaching a decision on the legal matter since the House has already proceeded with voting on impeachment articles without McGahn’s testimony.
“[T]he article of impeachment addressing purported obstruction of Congress relies in part on the judicial proceedings in this very case,” the department said in a brief obtained by Fox News. “If this court now were to resolve the merits question in this case, it would appear to be weighing in on a contested issue in any impeachment trial … [the court] should decline the committee’s request that it enter the fray and instead should dismiss this fraught suit between the political branches for lack of jurisdiction.”
In any case, McGahn is unlikely to appear if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell succeeds in calling no witnesses to testify at the trial and rejecting House Democrat demands for Trump to be removed from office.
An appeals court in Washington is scheduled to hear further discussion about the validity of a November judge ruling that McGahn should comply with a committee subpoena to testify.