House panel to subpoena third ex-Trump adviser within two weeks

Politics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House Judiciary Committee will subpoena former White House aide Rob Porter to testify about alleged efforts by President Donald Trump to impede a federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to a person familiar with the panel’s plans.

FILE PHOTO: White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter (L) reminds U.S. President Donald Trump he had a bill to sign after he departed quickly following remarks at his golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Porter, who will be the third former Trump adviser to draw a congressional subpoena within the past two weeks, will receive a subpoena directing him to testify before the Democrat-led panel, as part of a congressional investigation that could ultimately lead the House of Representatives to impeach Trump.

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Porter could not be immediately reached for comment.

On Aug. 15, the panel subpoenaed Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn to testify about the president’s alleged efforts to pressure then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to direct U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation away from the 2016 Trump campaign.

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It is not clear whether the White House will seek to block the testimony of Porter and Dearborn, as it has that of former White House Counsel Don McGahn and other onetime Trump White House aides. Lewandowski, a Trump confidant who has never served on the White House staff, has said he will testify on Sept 17.

Porter, who was White House staff secretary, appeared in Mueller’s 448-page investigation report as a witness to an episode involving McGahn that Democrats view as a keystone event in their efforts to show that Trump sought to obstruct justice.

McGahn told Mueller that Trump repeatedly instructed him to have the special counsel removed and then asked him to deny having been so instructed when news of the action emerged in news reports. McGahn did not carry out either instruction.

According to the Mueller report, Trump turned to Porter to pressure McGahn into writing a letter of denial.

“If he doesn’t write a letter, then maybe I’ll have to get rid of him,” the Mueller report quotes Trump as telling Porter. The report said Porter recalled that the president referred to McGahn as a “lying bastard.”

Trump also asked Porter to stay in touch with former Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, whom Porter knew, as a possible replacement for Sessions after the attorney general recused himself from the Russia probe and refused Trump’s demands that he reverse his decision.

“In asking him to reach out to Brand, Porter understood the president to want to find someone to end the Russia investigation or fire the special counsel, although the president never said so explicitly,” the Mueller report said.

Porter was interviewed twice by the special counsel team, and, according to the Mueller report, took contemporaneous notes during a number of other incidents that now interest Democrats.

He left the White House in February 2018 after accusations of domestic abuse from his former wives.

Reporting by David Morgan; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Jonathan Oatis

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