A U.S. district judge denied the Justice Department’s request for a stay on testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn.
U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote in a 17-page opinion that a long-term stay on her opinion last week requiring McGahn testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee could cause “grave harm” to the investigation.
“This Court has no doubt that further delay of the Judiciary Committee’s enforcement of its valid subpoena causes grave harm to both the Committee’s investigation and the interests of the public more broadly,” Jackson wrote.
The judge, who was appointed by former President Obama, also decided to remove a temporary stay she agreed upon last week while the case moved up to the U.S. Court of Appeals. The Justice Department was advocating for a long-term stay.
She added that the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) chances of winning the appeal were “exceedingly low.”
“DOJ also does not, and cannot, deny that whatever additional information that the Committee (and the public) might glean from McGahn’s live testimony will be lost if the Judiciary Committee does not have an opportunity to question him prior to any House vote on impeachment,” she wrote.
The Hill reached out to the Justice Department for comment.
Jackson decided last week that the president could not prevent McGahn from testifying and being subject to congressional oversight because history shows “Presidents are not kings.”
A Jan. 3 hearing with a three-judge panel has been scheduled for the Justice Department’s appeal. Two of those judges were appointed by Republican presidents, Politico reported.
The department has said it would bring the request to the Supreme Court if necessary. Chief Justice John Roberts could grant a temporary stay against the subpoena, but five justices would need to support a longer stay for it to go into effect, according to Politico.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report published in April detailed McGahn’s knowledge about the president’s alleged efforts to stop the Russia investigation. McGahn’s testimony could help House Democrats determine if they want to include Mueller report accusations in the articles of impeachment.