White House will claim 'absolute immunity' in effort to block former top McGahn aide ahead from submitting testimony to House: report
FILE PHOTO: White House Counsel Don McGahn sits behind U.S. President Donald Trump as the president holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The Trump White House is expected to move to prevent former White House Deputy Counsel Annie Donaldson from giving written responses to questions from the House Judiciary Committee, Politico is reporting.


When she was working in the White House, Donaldson reported directly to former White House Counsel Don McGahn — which made her an important witness in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. In May, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler, subpoenaed Donaldson to testify as part of its probe into whether or not President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct Mueller’s investigation.

Because Donaldson is pregnant, her attorney Sandra Moser said, it is difficult for her to travel — and the House Judiciary Committee agreed to let her submit written responses to questions rather than traveling to Washington, D.C. to testify in person.

But the Trump White House doesn’t want Donaldson to testify and is claiming that like others who formerly worked in the Trump Administration, she enjoys “absolute immunity.” Legal experts, however, have been stressing that there is no such thing as “absolute immunity” when it comes to congressional investigations of the executive branch of the U.S. government — and that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the matter in the 1970s when it rejected President Richard Nixon’s “absolute immunity” claims.

The White House can, however, make executive privilege assertions in response to congressional probes. And the courts can either uphold or reject those assertions.

The Trump White House has been urging Donaldson and others to defy subpoenas from House committees, claiming executive privilege. Nadler and other House Democrats have vowed to keep fighting the Trump White House in court.