On Monday, federal district court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ruled that former White House counsel Don McGahn must comply with a congressional subpoena and testify, despite a White House order to the contrary. Following that ruling, it was expected that the Department of Justice would appeal. And it did. On Wednesday morning, the DOJ asked Jackson to halt the implementation of the decision while it prepared an appeal.
On Wednesday afternoon, Judge Jackson agreed to do so, but, as TPM notes, the administrative stay is limited to seven days. The judge made it clear in her statement that the stay should in no way “be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of the motion for stay pending appeal.” Attorneys for the House, who were present when the DOJ made the request for the pause, did not oppose this brief administrative stay—which seems unlikely to affect any potential testimony, considering that the House is currently on Thanksgiving break.
Whether Judge Jackson will give the DOJ a requested longer stay is still up in the air, but considering the force of her decision—which declared that there was no such thing as the Trump White House’s claimed “unlimited immunity” for members of the executive branch, and stated bluntly that “presidents are not kings”—she made clear her position that there is absolutely no merit in the case being pressed by the DOJ. That leaves the possibility that the seven-day time-out could expire in the middle of next week, and that Jackson could very well refuse to extend the stay.
It looks like William Barr is going to need to keep some staff busy over the holidays, scrambling to get that appeal together in time to shield McGahn—especially since the ruling on McGahn’s case is being treated as a test for whether other officials, including John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney, can be forced to appear in the impeachment hearing.