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House can subpoena former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify, appeals court rules

FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2018, file photo former White House counsel Don McGahn speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md. McGahn was barely on speaking terms with President Donald Trump when he left the White House last fall. But special counsel Robert Mueller's report released Thursday, April 18, 2019, reveals the president may owe his former top lawyer a curious debt of gratitude. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

 (CNN) — The House of Representatives can sue to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify, a federal appeals court ruled Friday, but McGahn can continue to challenge the House’s subpoena and likely will not have to appear anytime soon.

A divided US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said McGahn’s refusal to testify is grounds for the House to sue.

The ruling is a win for Congress as a whole, emphasizing that it can sue to take an administration to court when there’s a standoff between the branches, and a loss for the Trump administration’s attempt to expand executive powers.

But in letting McGahn continue to challenge the subpoena on other grounds, the practical impact is that the court case is ongoing and he may not have to testify before the election.