The House Judiciary Committee will vote on Thursday to authorize subpoenas for 12 of former special counsel Robert Mueller's witnesses — including President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his former deputy Rod Rosenstein, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former chief of staff John Kelly and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Each of the witnesses provided crucial testimony to Mueller about Trump's efforts to thwart the Russia investigation, and the committee's efforts are certain to meet resistance from a White House that has already blocked testimony from senior aides like former White House Counsel Don McGahn and former longtime adviser Hope Hicks.
The barrage of subpoena authorizations represents a major expansion of the committee’s Trump-focused investigation, casting a wider net from obstruction of justice to hush-money payments. The committee has faced repeated resistance from the White House as it investigates obstruction of justice allegations against the president.
A majority of the committee’s Democrats already favor launching formal impeachment proceedings against the president, and the number is likely to grow after Mueller testifies next week before the Judiciary and Intelligence committees.
The subpoena targets include two executives of American Media, Inc. — Dylan Howard and David Pecker — who testified about Trump's alleged hush-money payments to a woman who accused him of an extramarital affair before the election. And it includes current and former Trump administration officials Rick Dearborn, Jody Hunt and Rob Porter.
The list also includes Keith Davidson, an attorney who previously represented adult-film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen orchestrated a $130,000 payment to Daniels to buy her silence over an alleged affair with Trump. Cohen is serving a three year prison sentence in part for the hush-money payment, which prosecutors said amounted to a campaign finance violation.
Davidson previously said he had asked the committee for a so-called “friendly” subpoena in order to comply with the committee’s demands for documents and testimony.
“As always, I remain open to reaching a reasonable accommodation and will not issue subpoenas if the information we are seeking is voluntarily provided. We will get answers one way or the other,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
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Republicans panned the subpoenas as an effort to “relitigate” the Mueller investigation.
“Mr. Mueller’s team issued more than 2,800 subpoenas before concluding that no Americans conspired with Russia,” Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “Even if Chairman Nadler still believes subpoenas are conversation starters, it’s hard to imagine this handful of subpoenas will do anything but reinforce the principal conclusions we’ve been able to read about for months.”
Though the current and former White House aides are likely to refuse to comply with the committee’s demands, that decision is more complicated for figures like Lewandowski, who has had no official role with the Trump White House yet remains a top confidant of the president.
Mueller relied on testimony from Lewandowski and Hicks to recount an episode in which Trump tried to pressure Sessions to assume control of the Russia probe and dramatically constrain its scope. Additionally, Porter, who served as White House staff secretary, turned over his contemporaneous notes which detailed Trump’s frustrations with the Mueller investigation and his efforts to thwart it.
The committee has already subpoenaed McGahn for testimony and documents, but the former White House counsel refused to comply at the direction of the Trump White House. The Judiciary Committee has vowed to take McGahn to court to enforce its subpoena, but the panel has taken no action since McGahn blew off their subpoena deadline in May.
The House Intelligence Committee has also subpoenaed Flynn for documents and testimony, but the panel’s chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has repeatedly declined to say whether Flynn, who is awaiting sentencing for lying to the FBI, is cooperating.
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