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Politics Ruling on test of White House witness immunity claims coming Monday

15:26  25 november  2019
15:26  25 november  2019 Source:   cnn.com

Schiff accuses Trump of 'witness intimidation'

  Schiff accuses Trump of 'witness intimidation' House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff issued a veiled threat against President Trump for tweeting about former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovich as she testified before the panel in Day Two of the public impeachment proceedings. © Provided by MediaDC: Washington Newspaper Publishing Company, Inc. “Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously,” Schiff, a California Democrat and former federal prosecutor, announced during the hearing.

With the White House defying the House , Mr. Mulvaney has refused to comply with a subpoena for Although more witnesses could still be called, the Intelligence Committee concluded its scheduled It could also use the coming days to renew its press for the administration to turn over long-sought

Prosecutors offer immunity when a witness can help them or law enforcement make a case. Immunity from prosecution is an important tool for prosecutors. They can offer immunity to witnesses for all types of crimes, even serious ones like kidnapping and murder.

Don McGahn, Donald Trump are posing for a picture© Getty Images

On Monday, a federal judge plans to make the first major court ruling in the fight between the House and the White House over impeachment witnesses.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson says she will decide by the close of business whether former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify about President Donald Trump to Congress.

Until this point, the case has lingered in the background, stemming from a subpoena the House Judiciary Committee sent to McGahn in April, well before the Ukraine impeachment scandal kicked House proceedings into high gear this fall. But depending on Jackson's ruling, McGahn's case could be pivotal for the House as it considers impeaching the President on multiple counts.

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In an extraordinary article on Monday , The New York Times disclosed tension between two White That raises an intriguing possibility. I don’t think the White House has much of a shot if it claims Three appellate courts, as I mentioned, have ruled against government lawyers claiming privilege to

If she strikes an immunity deal that lets her dish on FBI insiders, figures like Andrew McCabe and James Comey could be hardest hit “Well, I think Page has the opportunity to become the anti-Strzok,” Farrell explained during a Monday appearance on Fox Business Network’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

A ruling in the House's favor, for instance, could encourage resistant witnesses from the administration to testify and could bolster any case the House makes to impeach the President for obstructing its impeachment efforts.

The House sued McGahn in August, claiming the Judiciary Committee needed his public testimony about Trump's attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation. McGahn had been a key witness on several instances of obstruction that special counsel Robert Mueller investigated, and had since left the White House.

But McGahn never appeared before Congress. The White House had claimed he had "absolute immunity" and could ignore the call for him to testify.

The White House has since used the same idea to block several more witnesses in the House impeachment probe, including top former national security officials with knowledge of the President's dealings with Ukraine.

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  Trump appears to launch another real-time attack on an impeachment witness Trump appears to launch another real-time attack on an impeachment witnessPresident Donald Trump on Thursday appeared to level another real-time attack against a witness in the House impeachment inquiry, questioning the testimony of a State Department official who claimed to have overheard an incriminating phone call that involved the president.

Next, Nunes visits the White House to brief Trump on the intelligence reports. Directly after, he holds another press conference, this time on the White House lawn. The spokesperson further clarifies that, “because of classification rules , the source could not simply put the documents in a backpack

The documents come from a firm that handled Manafort's bookkeeping and the electronic devices of Rick Gates, his longtime business associate. Ellis also approved the special counsel's request to offer immunity to five witnesses who are expected to testify at Manafort's trial.

All along, the House has called that assertion unlawful and has waited for a judge to weigh in.

Judge's roles

McGahn's case headed to the judge in DC District Court near the height of the House's Ukraine impeachment furor.

On Halloween, Jackson heard arguments from House lawyers and the Justice Department, which defends the White House and McGahn.

The judge, during the hearing, seemed floored that the White House was attempting to control even its former officials' public statements.

"We don't live in a world where your status as a former executive branch official somehow shields you or prevents you from giving information," Jackson said. "I see almost every day people who are former executive branch officials giving information to the media."

That same afternoon, another federal judge began considering the case of a different White House witness, former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman, whom the White House blocked from speaking about Ukraine, claiming the same type of "absolute immunity."

Schiff isn't ruling out more impeachment hearings

  Schiff isn't ruling out more impeachment hearings The House Intelligence Committee has begun work on its report in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, Chairman Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., said in an interview Friday. The committee, which on Thursday wrapped up public testimony with a dozen current and former administration officials, will continue working on its investigation while compiling the report, Schiff said.The committee, which on Thursday wrapped up public testimony with a dozen current and former administration officials, will continue working on its investigation while compiling the report, Schiff said in his Capitol Hill office.

The other staffers granted immunity were John Bentel, who was director of the State Department's Office of Information Resources Management, and Cheryl Mills, a longtime Clinton aide, received an immunity deal from the Justice Department during the investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails. |

Prosecutors denied an immunity application from other brother, who was expected to support the defendant, but would have potentially implicated himself on other grounds. The defendant lost on appeal and wanted the Supreme Court to settle a split among other federal courts on this issue.

In that case, the judge is about a month away from being able to rule, keeping Kupperman and his former boss John Bolton on ice.

The House has argued that the coming decision in McGahn is all they should need as a guide -- but the national security advisers' lawyer has made clear they may not follow in line.

Potential outcomes

Even so, a ruling Monday in favor of the House could help make the case that other former or even current White House officials should testify.

If Jackson says McGahn must testify, he could be called to the House right away, needing further action from the courts to avoid him being held in contempt.

He and the coming ruling also could become a key part of other potential impeachment avenues. The House has already hinted it's considering impeaching Trump on obstructing their proceedings, including by stopping witnesses with the "absolute immunity" claim, making a federal court's judgments even more significant.

Any increased chance that McGahn and others should now testify would be a triumph for the House, enabling it to draw even more attention toward arguments against the President. The House said it needed a ruling quickly regarding McGahn because he could speak to them about Trump potentially obstructing justice, and even perhaps Trump lying in written answers to the special counsel.

McGahn is the "principal witness," the House has told the court, on evidence that Trump obstructed justice. The Judiciary Committee says it wants him to testify after the House Intelligence Committee's hearings on Ukraine end.

(The Ukraine inquiry could lead to separate impeachment charges of bribery or abuse of office.)

But if the House loses in the McGahn case Monday, the White House's "absolute immunity" would stay strong for now, and one of the most significant witnesses against the President --and others -- would be protected behind the firewall.

Trump’s impeachment participation strategy: Insult, sit out, wait .
Team Trump is refusing to engage unless certain demands are met, opting instead to blast Democrats from the outside and wait for a friendlier Senate landscape. Trump’s legal and political aides argue that participating in the hearings — as the Judiciary Committee has invited the White House to do — would only legitimize the process, even as it leaves the door open to negotiating with Democrats. And it’s a tactic, they say, that is protecting future presidents from congressional overreach.

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