President Donald Trump is directing former White House counsel Don McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena.
The White House on Monday cited a legal opinion from the Justice Department, which argues that McGahn would have immunity from testifying before Congress about his work as a close Trump adviser.
Democrats have been eager to hear from McGahn - a key figure in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation who described ways in which the president sought to curtail the probe.
The decision is certain to deepen tensions between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration. They've accused Trump and Attorney General William Barr of trying to stonewall and block Congress from carrying out its oversight duties.
The House Judiciary Committee had issued a subpoena to compel McGahn to testify by Tuesday.
The Justice Department says former White House counsel Don McGahn can't be compelled to testify before Congress about the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation.
The department's Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion Monday finding that McGahn would have "immunity" as a former presidential adviser. It could clear the way for McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena ordering him to testify by Tuesday.
Lawmakers have been eager to hear from McGahn, who was a key figure in Mueller's Russia investigation.
The Justice Department issued a similar opinion in 2014 that found that close presidential advisers have "absolute immunity" from congressional subpoenas.
The committee's chairman, Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, has threatened to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress if he doesn't testify.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.