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.
Porter, who will be the third former Trump adviser to draw a congressional subpoena in 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.
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.
Whether the White House will seek to block the testimony of Porter and Dearborn is not clear, as it has that of former White House Counsel Don McGahn and other one-time Trump White House aides. Lewandowski, a Trump confidante 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 former White House Counsel Don McGahn.
Democrats view the Sessions and McGahn episodes as evidence that Trump is guilty of obstructing 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 press 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 left the White House in February 2018 after accusations of domestic abuse from his former wives.
(The story was refiled to correct “last week” in Paragraph 3 to Aug. 15)
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)