Federal judge rejects Jen Psaki’s bid to duck testifying in censorship lawsuit against Trump
The former White House adviser’s lawyers told a judge Tuesday that the former Department of Homeland Security official will be forced to testify if she declines to waive her Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.
A federal judge granted the request, ruling she would have to appear before the House Oversight and Reform Committee and appear to be available for voluntary interviews by reporters.
Psaki’s lawyers said they would seek to persuade her to waive her Fifth Amendment protections, which she could do in return for a lesser sentence.
The lawyers also said they would seek to have a new judge appoint a public defender to represent her in the case.
The Justice Department has argued that the former White House official is not entitled to a lawyer under the Constitution. It has argued that the White House has sole control over who sees the former adviser, including whether she does or does not waive the Fifth.
“This case involves issues of significant importance to this country and to the rule of law,” U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan wrote in his opinion. “Its resolution has the potential to impact the country for generations to come.”
Psaki was the former executive secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush, who tapped her to serve as the White House official dealing with the war on terror.
She was forced last November to resign in the wake of a report that she had told FBI agents that her personal email account for government work included a list of “crazy” people who posed a threat. She has also been subpoenaed to appear before Congress.
In his ruling issued Tuesday, Sullivan wrote that he sees no reason for a different result in this case when compared to decisions with similar facts.
“The Government has failed to meet its burden for a new trial,” Sullivan wrote. “Rather, it appears that the only issues in dispute are the extent to which the Government can exercise absolute control over who witnesses Psaki and the extent to which she shall be compelled to answer questions by the United States House Oversight Committee or the public.”