A federal judge has struck down the House Democrats attempt to “game the system,” regarding their subpoena of former White House counsel Don McGahn, in their so-called “impeachment probe” into President Trump.
The Democrats tried to link their subpoena of McGahn to a separate request for secret grand jury information from the Russia investigation, after the Justice Department accused them of trying to “game the system.”
Normally cases are assigned to judges randomly, which the DOJ said is meant to keep parties from “attempting to game the system” by “shopping” for a judge they like. But in a court filing, the department alleged the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee was trying to do just that by exploiting an exception that allows “related” cases to be heard by the same judge.
In this case, the DOJ said the panel improperly sought to connect the McGahn case to the grand jury case — simply because they’re both part of their investigation of President Trump.
“At first blush, the House Judiciary Committee’s view that the related case rule applies is understandable,” D.C. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell wrote in her order rejecting the bid. “Nonetheless, closer examination demonstrates that these connections between the two cases are too superficial and attenuated for the McGahn Subpoena Case to qualify.”
Howell, who is currently assigned to the grand jury case, agreed with the DOJ’s argument that the committee’s request to unseal secret grand jury information from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe has to do with the application of the law under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, while the McGahn case is a civil matter dealing with enforcing a subpoena where immunity has been asserted.
DOJ Says the Two Cases Are Unrelated
Regarding the case of McGahn refusing the Committee’s subpoena, the DOJ argued in its court filing, that “This later-filed, subpoena-enforcement suit involves no issues of fact or law common to the earlier Grand Jury application, nor does it focus on a common event or transaction such that the matters would be ‘related.’”
The House Judiciary Committee claimed that the cases are related because they both tie into what they are now calling an “impeachment investigation” of Trump. Their complaint against McGahn calls him the “most important witness, other than the President, to the key events that are the focus of the Judiciary Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The DOJ, however, successfully argued that the term “related” refers to cases that have “common issues of fact” or stem from a “common event or transaction.” They claimed the committee “gets it backwards” because they are “trying to relate completely unrelated cases simply because it filed them in service of its overarching desire to bring various matters together in its investigation of the President.”
The McGahn case will now be transferred to the Calendar and Case Management Committee to be randomly reassigned.