WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed the former White House aide Rob Porter to testify about President Trump’s efforts to impede the Russia investigation, its chairman announced, the latest step in the panel’s expansive inquiry into whether to impeach Mr. Trump.
Mr. Porter was a key witness to Mr. Trump’s repeated attempts to thwart the special counsel investigation, including the president’s efforts to get the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II to falsely deny a New York Times article that revealed his order to fire the special counsel.
One of the highest-profile witnesses sought by the House, Mr. Porter is referenced many times throughout the Mueller report’s second volume, which focuses on obstruction of justice. Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, declined to determine whether Mr. Trump criminally obstructed justice but suggested in his report that others could use the evidence he gathered to make that call.
“The committee intends to hold hearings and obtain testimony over the coming months as part of its efforts to hold the president accountable as we move forward with our investigation into obstruction, corruption and abuse of power by Trump and his associates,” the Judiciary Committee chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, said in a statement.
The White House is all but certain to try to keep Mr. Porter, a former aide in the Senate and to a federal judge, from complying with the order to appear on Capitol Hill, just as it has stonewalled previous attempts by the House to secure information from other top aides to Mr. Trump. This month, the Judiciary Committee sued to enforce its subpoena of Mr. McGahn, calling him “the most important witness, other than the president, to key events” at the center of the Mueller investigation and saying his testimony was essential to the panel’s impeachment inquiry. The case is pending.
If he did speak publicly, Mr. Porter could likely provide a rich account of Mr. Trump’s conduct. His job as staff secretary, which included controlling every piece of official paper the president saw, entailed near-constant presence around Mr. Trump. He kept notes of his time at the White House, which the Mueller team referenced in footnotes of its report.
And unlike other witnesses that the Judiciary panel has sought to compel to testify, such as Hope Hicks, the former White House communications director, and Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s first campaign manager, Mr. Porter was not an unquestioning Trump loyalist. He sometimes moved to prevent the president from taking actions that he considered ill-advised or poorly considered, and made it his business to try to impose some order on a freewheeling West Wing led by a president who shunned policy deliberation and spoke openly with his staff about his whims.