During the Russia investigation, former special counsel Robert Mueller sought testimony from a long list of people. But according to a court filing on Sunday, two people who Mueller did not force to testify before a grand jury were Donald Trump Jr. and former White House Counsel Don McGahn. And U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell wants to know why.
The court filing on Sunday, according to The Week, was in response to a ruling Howell made on Thursday — when Howell asserted that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was withholding too much information from the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York. The House Judiciary Committee, The Week’s Peter Weber reports, has been “wrangling” with DOJ over the evidence that Mueller obtained during his lengthy investigation.
On Thursday, Howell wrote that it was unclear why Mueller didn’t force Trump Jr. or McGahn to testify. “The special counsel’s reasons remain unknown,” Howell explained. “The reason is not that the individuals were insignificant to the investigation. To the contrary, both of the non-testifying individuals named in paragraph four figured in key events examined in the Mueller Report. Assessment of these choices by the special counsel is a matter for others.”
Bill Burck, McGahn’s attorney, told Politico that in McGahn’s case, there “was no need for a grand jury subpoena” because the former White House counsel “voluntarily agreed to be interviewed.” And legal expert Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, agrees with Burck’s explanation. Mariotti tweeted, “if a witness agrees to be interviewed by FBI agents, as McGahn did, typically prosecutors won’t put him in the grand jury to testify unless there’s a concern that he will later change his story. As for Trump Jr., this suggests to me that his lawyers said he would take the Fifth.”
The House of Representatives has received FBI reports on Mueller’s interviews with many others he spoke to during the Russia investigation, including Michael Cohen (Trump’s former personal attorney), Paul Manafort (Trump’s former 2016 campaign manager), former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.