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Trump, U.S. House face off in court over subpoena power

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday heard oral arguments in a historic dispute between the Trump administration and the U.S. House of Representatives over how much power Congress has to enforce subpoenas demanding testimony or documents.

Holding oral arguments by phone, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit considered whether a House committee can sue to enforce a subpoena for testimony from former White House Counsel Donald McGahn. “Disputes between the political branches about their institutional prerogatives have occurred since the founding, but lawsuits between them are a novel and unsanctioned tactic,” Hashim Mooppan, a Justice Department lawyer arguing for the Trump administration, told the court. Judge Judith Rogers appeared skeptical of the notion that courts cannot intervene when the executive branch and Congress are at odds. “Are you of the view there can be no role for the courts in terms of preserving the separation of powers?” she asked Mooppan. A divided three-judge panel of the court ruled for Republican President Donald Trump in February, saying the court had no place in settling the closely watched dispute between the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government. The court said that nine of its 11 judges would reconsider that ruling.

28 April 2020


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