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Ex-White House lawyer McGahn agrees to U.S. House interview -panel chairman

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Former White House counsel Don McGahn sits with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell while speaking to a gathering of the Federalist Society at the State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, U.S. October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston - RC1121CC8830

WASHINGTON, May 13 (Reuters) - Don McGahn, who served as White House counsel under former U.S. President Donald Trump, has agreed to be interviewed by the House Judiciary panel after a years-long legal battle, according to the Democratic chairman of the committee.

The deal follows a two-year fight for the lawyer's testimony as House Democrats sought to enforce a subpoena for McGahn's testimony as part of its investigation into Trump's efforts to impede former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation that documented Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

McGahn, who left his post in late 2018 halfway through Trump's four-year term, had declined to testify in May 2019. The Justice Department at the time had advised him to defy the subpoena, one of a number of refusals by the Trump administration as it sought to block congressional inquiries into the former Republican president.

"When the former President vowed to fight 'all of the subpoenas' aimed at his Administration, he began a dangerous campaign of unprecedented obstruction," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in a statement late Wednesday, adding the deal begins "to bring that era of obstruction to an end."

Nadler's panel and the U.S. Justice Department have asked to postpone oral arguments in the ongoing lawsuit after reaching the settlement with McGahn, the committee said. More details about the planned transcribed interview would be released later, it added.

Representatives for McGahn could not be immediately reached, and a representative for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

McGahn emerged as a key figure in Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election that saw Trump defeat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 2018 midterm election, handing them investigative powers. Trump lost the November 2020 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden and left office in January.

Reporting by Susan Heavey, Editing by Nick Zieminski

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