In an interview with MSNBC, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who serves on the Judiciary Committee and is a member of his caucus leadership, said Monday that the White House’s reported plan to invoke executive privilege and block former White House counsel Don McGahn’s from testifying would justify the launch of an impeachment inquiry.
The Rhode Island Democrat said if McGahn does not testify on Tuesday, he thinks the panel should open an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump citing “a pattern from the White House to impede our investigation.”
“This is a cover-up by the White House and there comes a point where we have to stand up for the rule of law,” he said. “It is not just about this president. It is about future presidents. It’s about the message it sends about our respect for the Constitution and for the rule of law. And I think if this pattern by the president continues where he’s going to impede and prevent and undermine our ability to gather evidence to do our job, we’re going to be left with no choice.”
Cicilline noted that he was not speaking on behalf of leadership or the committee.
“The opening on an inquiry may be one of the only ways we can compel successfully the production of this,” he said. “We have deferred in every way and attempted to accommodate the White House in every way, but we have a responsibility, we have a job to do and we intend to do it.”
BREAKING: @RepCicilline: “If Don McGahn doesn’t testify, it is time to open an impeachment inquiry….No one is above the law including the president of the United States.” #MTPDaily pic.twitter.com/ClND8cONyv
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) May 20, 2019
Earlier Monday, the president ordered McGahn to not testify on Tuesday. His administration said the former adviser has “absolute immunity” and is not legally required to comply with a congressional subpoena.
In a letter to committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., current White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote that an internal Justice Department opinion determined that Congress cannot compel the president’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties.
California Rep. Ted Lieu, a Judiciary member and DPCC co-chair, also agreed that if McGahn doesn’t show for the hearing that the panel should open an impeachment inquiry.
“Hopefully the White House would make it so we don’t have to take more drastic steps, but it’s up to the White House,” he said.