Democrats subpoena former Trump aide Hope Hicks

US President Donald Trump's former aide Hope Hicks has been subpoenaed to testify about her former boss by the House Judiciary Committee (AFP Photo/Mandel NGAN)

Washington (AFP) - The Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas Tuesday for former White House aides Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson to testify in the panel's obstruction investigation of President Donald Trump.

The subpoenas were announced hours after Trump's former lawyer and Donaldson's ex-boss Donald McGahn refused to testify to the committee under orders from the White House, raising the stakes in a power showdown between the two parties and two branches of government.

Like McGahn, both Hicks and Donaldson were important witnesses for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia meddling and obstruction investigation, their names appearing scores of times in his final report, which outlines potentially criminal obstruction acts by the president.

It was not immediately clear if the White House would also try to prevent them from testifying before the Judiciary Committee.

Hicks was a close aide to Trump during the 2016 election campaign and then became White House communications director until she stepped down in March 2018.

In both positions she had an inside view into actions by Trump and top associates, and spoke to the Mueller investigation on issues of both possible collusion with Russia and obstruction.

Donaldson was chief of staff for McGahn's White House Counsel office for nearly all of 2017, during which she took copious notes on meetings, conversations and actions that were addressed in the Mueller investigation.

McGahn's testimony to Mueller on Trump's attempts to interfere with the Russia investigation supported the strongest allegations by Mueller of potentially obstructive behavior.

Mueller's report makes clear that Donaldson corroborated much of McGahn's testimony.

Mueller ultimately declined to render a judgement on whether Trump obstructed justice, leaving it up to Congress to investigate further and take action to impeach Trump if warranted.