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24 Apr, 2019 03:24

Enough is enough? Trump opposes aides testifying to Congress in post-Mueller probes

Enough is enough? Trump opposes aides testifying to Congress in post-Mueller probes

US President Donald Trump says he doesn’t want his aides testifying before Democrat-led congressional committees about the contents of the Mueller report, as the hunt for collusion morphs into a hunt for obstruction.

"There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it's very partisan – obviously very partisan," Trump told the Washington Post in an interview. "I don't want people testifying to a party, because that's what they're doing if they do this."

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Trump's administration cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe for two full years and was vindicated when the investigation turned up zero proof of collusion in the 2016 presidential election, Trump told the Washington Post – so why should they submit to further probing at the hands of a Democrat-controlled House eager to score political points off him?

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler accused Trump of obstructing his obstruction probe following reports the president planned to block Nadler's subpoena of former White House Counsel Don McGahn by exerting executive privilege. The lawyer became the latest vessel for the Democrats' impeachment hopes when the Mueller report revealed McGahn had refused Trump's order to remove the special prosecutor in June 2017, afraid of "triggering another Saturday Night Massacre" (and presumably meeting a Nixonian end). McGahn, whose name appears in the 448-page report 150 times, reportedly sat for 30 hours of interviews with Mueller's team, and Trump told the Post he believes Democrats should be satisfied with what the attorney (and other White House officials, for that matter) told the special counsel – though he stressed that he had not "made a final decision" over whether to formally invoke executive privilege to deflect the subpoena.

The Trump administration did ask former security director Carl Kline to resist a subpoena, this time from the House Oversight Committee, after Kline was called in to testify on Tuesday concerning a whistleblower's report that he'd granted more than two dozen security clearances to members of the administration considered security risks – including Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law. The committee held Kline in contempt when he failed to show up in court. And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has stonewalled the House Ways and Means Committee's demands for six years of tax returns from Trump and several of his businesses, claiming the request brings up constitutional and privacy issues that must be addressed by the Justice Department.

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With their collusion hopes firmly dashed by Thursday's release of the redacted 448-page report, Trump's opponents have seized on language that they believe details 10 incidences in which the president obstructed justice – though the report itself did not reach a conclusion on the president's guilt. Democrats have taken that opening and run with it, with multiple committees opening probes into possible obstruction, even as the party remains divided over whether impeachment is feasible.

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