Trump’s top aide to testify in impeachment panel

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A judge of the United States District Court in Washington, Ketanji Brown Jackson has ruled that a former top aide to President Trump, Donald McGahn must testify in the impeachment hearing despite claims that he had absolute immunity as a top presidential adviser.

The ruling is a damaging blow to Trump’s US ongoing fight with the Congress. The ruling has potentially far reaching implications for Trump as he struggles to fend off impeachment.

The ruling could also affect other key witnesses called before Congress. Those high-value witnesses include John Bolton, the former national security adviser who is reported to have been deeply unhappy about Trump’s posture on Ukraine, Bolton’s deputy Charles Kupperman and the current acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

In each of those cases the White House has deployed the same argument – that the officials were so core to executive functions that they enjoyed immunity in the face of congressional subpoenas.

The Chairman of the House intelligent committee, Adam Schiff, a key Democratic figure in the impeachment inquiry, called the ruling a “very significant victory”.

“With today’s ruling, the courts have made it absolutely clear … that absolute immunity is not a legitimate basis by which to prohibit senior White House officials from testifying before Congress.”

The justice department instantly moved to appeal the decision, rendering an appeal hearing inevitable and opening up the possibility that such a fundamental dispute over where power lies in modern America will end up at the door of the US Supreme Court. In the short term, though, the immediate question is whether the Democrats in control of the impeachment process in the House of Representatives will be able to use this legal opening to oblige McGahn and other crucial witnesses to testify.

McGahn has already spent many hours in front of the special counsel on the Russia inquiry, Robert Mueller. His testimony may be important in determining whether obstruction of justice is included as a ground for impeachment.

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