WASHINGTON (CN) — House Democrats confirmed in federal court papers Tuesday that they are formally investigating whether the president lied to former special counsel Robert Mueller.
The disclosure appears in a case where the House Judiciary Committee seeks to compel testimony from Don McGahn, the former White House counsel who emerged as a central character in Mueller’s report on Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
But House attorney Douglas Letter also highlighted the new arm of the impeachment inquiry a day earlier, at a hearing in the D.C. Circuit.
Citing testimony from a top campaign aide during the trial this fall of Roger Stone, Letter emphasized that Stone was convicted on seven counts of lying to Congress about his communications with President Donald Trump on the 2016 campaign trail regarding upcoming WikiLeaks releases of Russian-hacked documents.
A longtime adviser to the president, Stone joins other convicted Trump insiders to face prison time for crimes uncovered by Mueller’s two-year investigation. Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort are already behind bars, while Michael Flynn and Rick Gates await sentencing after pleading guilty.
“They are lying about things that go directly to the Mueller report,” Letter told the D.C. Circuit.
Gates, the 2016 deputy Trump campaign manager, was considered the star witness of Stone’s trial. He described a call he overheard between Stone and Trump, after which the president told Gates that more releases of stolen WikiLeaks emails, damaging to his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, were coming.
Letter wrote Tuesday to the judge presiding over McGahn’s subpoena challenge that Trump gave Mueller a written statement where he denied “any recollection of conversations with Stone about WikiLeaks and any awareness of Stone discussing WikiLeaks with other campaign officials.”
The outcome of the Stone trial underpins the House claim that there is an “even more pressing” need for the court to force McGahn’s testimony, according to Letter’s request for expedited ruling
“Given that the House’s impeachment inquiry is proceeding rapidly, the committee has a finite window of time to effectively obtain and consider McGahn’s testimony,” Letter added.
Prosecutors said Stone lied to Congress because “the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.” House Democrats now aim to bring the accusation to Capitol Hill in the impeachment inquiry centered on reports that Trump illegally pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival, former vice president Joe Biden.
The committee will hold impeachment hearings after the House Intelligence Committee concludes the public testimonies that kicked off last week in televised proceedings.