President Donald Trump said Thursday that he did not want former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify before Congress about allegations that the president obstructed justice.
“Congress shouldn‘t be looking anymore. This is all. It‘s done,“ Trump told Fox News. “Nobody has ever done what I‘ve done. I‘ve given total transparency. It‘s never happened before like this. They shouldn‘t be looking anymore. It‘s done.“
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler is making what he calls a final “counter offer” to Attorney General William Barr’s refusal to grant immediate access to the underlying evidence in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
In a new letter to Barr on Friday, Nadler (D-N.Y.) is giving the Justice Department until 9 a.m. Monday to comply with his adjusted request before moving forward with an effort to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a committee subpoena demanding Mueller’s full unredacted report and underlying documents by May 1.
This letter is spot on. Two paragraphs at the end especially stood out to me. First, Nadler exposes that the DoJ’s stonewalling of the Judiciary Committee’s requests for documents is baseless, considering that the DoJ recently turned over mountains of documents during the Clinton e-mail investigations (emphasis is mine):
Accommodation requires negotiation that takes into account the legitimate interests and responsibilities of both Congress and the Department. Your proposed conditions are a departure from accommodations made by previous Attorneys General of both parties. As recently as last Congress, the Department produced more than 880,000 pages of sensitive investigative materials pertaining to its investigation of Hillary Clinton, as well as much other material relating to the then-ongoing Russia investigation. That production included highly classified material, notes from FBI interviews, internal text messages, and law enforcement memoranda. The volume of documents cited in the Special Counsel’s report is surely smaller, and the Committee is willing to work with the Department to prioritize production of materials even within that defined category. Additionally, in the most recent prior instance in which the Department conducted an investigation of a sitting President, Kenneth Starr produced a 445-page report to Congress along with 18 boxes of accompanying evidence.
Next, Nadler unequivocally establishes Congress’s absolute right to investigate the President (emphasis is mine):
Lastly, it cannot go unremarked that, in refusing to comply with congressional oversight requests, the Department has repeatedly asserted that Congress’s requests do not serve “legitimate” purposes. This is not the Department’s judgment to make. Congress’s constitutional, oversight and legislative interest in investigating misconduct by the President and his associates cannot be disputed. The Committee has ample jurisdiction under House Rule X(l)to conduct oversight of the Department, undertake necessary investigations, and consider legislation regarding the federal obstruction of justice statutes, campaign-related crimes, and special counsel investigations, among other things.
By writing this “final notice letter” and setting a Monday morning deadline, Nadler is expertly walking a fine line between 1) demonstrating to the courts that he is giving Barr ample opportunity to comply and 2) moving expeditiously towards contempt proceedings.
Here’s some encouraging historical context from Michael Beschloss, presidential historian and contributor to MSNBC and PBS. This headline from 45 years ago reminds us that when the White House rejects subpoenas, it may result in some sensationalistic reporting, but it is ultimately a futile gesture, doomed to failure.
Reading this NYT article back in 1974, you might be persuaded that Nixon’s rejection of subpoenas was going to shut down the entire Watergate investigation, yet it turned out to be hardly a bump in the road. From Wikipedia:
The [Watergate] scandal led to the discovery of multiple abuses of power by members of the Nixon administration, the commencement of an impeachment process against the president and Nixon’s resignation. The scandal also resulted in the indictment of 69 people, with trials or pleas resulting in 48 being found guilty, many of whom were top Nixon officials.
This story has changed since this morning…
A key member of the House Judiciary Committee said Sunday that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has tentatively agreed to testify on May 15.
The committee has been seeking to hear from Mueller amid disagreements about whether Attorney General William P. Barr mischaracterized the special counsel’s report in his congressional testimony and statements.
Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) said on “Fox News Sunday” that the panel and Mueller’s representative had reached a tentative agreement for his testimony.
President Trump said Sunday that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III should not testify before Congress, reversing course from his previous position that the decision is up to Attorney General William P. Barr.
“Bob Mueller should not testify,” Trump said in an afternoon tweet. “No redos for the Dems!”
If Mueller exonerated Trump (as Trump falsely claims) then shouldn’t Trump welcome his testimony? Instead, Trump is desperately amping up his efforts to hide his crimes.
For the umpteenth time, Trump screams “NO OBSTRUCTION” in all caps, but Mueller never said there was no obstruction. On the contrary, Mueller documented 10 potential acts of obstruction – he did not rule on whether or not they were actually acts of obstruction because it is against DoJ policy to indict a sitting President. It will be up to Congress to make the ruling. Bottom line: If Trump were not President, he would already be indicted.
Trump says there should be no “redos.” What redos? Mueller’s testimony is not a “redo,” it is a confirmation of his findings. Impeachment proceedings would also not be a “redo,” they would be a continuation of an established process: 1) Investigation --> 2) Findings that expose criminal acts --> 3) Impeachment. We are currently wrapping up Step 2.
Trump’s reversal here plays to his beloved bait and switch strategy. Time and again he’ll score some quick points with his base by announcing he’s going to do one thing; then later he’ll do exactly the opposite, knowing that most of his base will continue to recall only his original promise. Before the election, he promised he would release his tax returns; now he says he’ll never release them. He said he would be happy to be interviewed by Mueller; then he refused. He claimed his tax plan would hurt the wealthy; then he handed the wealthy one of the biggest tax breaks in history. Etc., etc.
He says $35 million was spent on the investigation, but fails to mention that it will break even since Mueller has confiscated at least that amount from Manafort’s ill-gotten gains. And let’s not forget that Trump has spent more than $64 million on his trips to Mar-a-Lago.
Finally, and most depressing to me, the President of our nation yet again sounds like a little baby throwing a tantrum. You can read his infantile rant in the article – I’m too embarrassed to reproduce here.
As a matter of principle, I avoid reading his tweets whenever possible. I also do not think the media should give then & the name calling any traction.
House Judiciary Committee will take a vote on Wednesday to hold Atty General Barr in contempt. Go get him…
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee said they will vote Wednesday on whether to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress after Barr missed a deadline to produce a complete version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.
The panel had set a deadline of 9 a.m. Monday for Barr to provide the unredacted version of Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. It announced the planned vote in a statement Monday.
Guys it’s on like Donkey Kong!
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has scheduled a Wednesday vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress after the Justice Department declined to provide an unredacted version of the Mueller report to Congress.
The vote to hold Barr in contempt marks the first time that House Democrats are moving to punish a Trump administration official for defying a congressional subpoena and represents a dramatic escalation in tensions between Democrats and the White House.
Nadler set Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee vote after Barr did not agree by Monday’s 9 a.m. ET deadline to comply with a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller’s full, unredacted report and underlying evidence to Congress.
Two committees - House Foreign Affairs and Financial Services Committee are calling for sanctions for all the human rights abuses in Russia. Dems shaking it up.
The leaders of the House Foreign Affairs and Financial Services Committees are accusing the Trump administration of violating a law requiring a report on human rights abuses in Russia.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Foreign Affairs panel, and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the Financial Services chairwoman, on Monday said the Trump administration is four months late to a deadline requiring a report on the U.S. government’s efforts to impose sanctions on human rights abusers in Russia.
“Given the concerning increase and high profile of human rights violations in Russia, it is important that the administration take action under the Russia Magnitsky Act in order to send a clear signal to members of Vladimir Putin’s repressive government that their actions will not go unanswered and make clear to the world the United States’ profound concern about the deteriorating human rights conditions in the Russian Federation,” Engel and Waters wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Most telling paragraphs from the CNN reporting.
… Democrats on the tax-writing committee have argued that they have the ability to request Trump’s personal tax information under an obscure statute that permits three people to request personal tax information of any individual: the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, the Senate Finance Committee chairman and the chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation.
The statute says that the secretary of the Treasury “shall furnish” it.
The statute has been used by Congress before, including in the Republican investigation under President Barack Obama into whether the IRS was discriminating against conservative groups applying for non-profit status. Requests for information using the law are also made on a regular basis for research purposes. …
So the Republicans can use this statute to investigate a Democratic Administration, but Democrats can’t use it to investigate a Republican Administration? The fact that this has a clear precedent demonstrates that the Republicans are simply obstructing here – pure and simple.
And note to the media: Since the statute was used by Republicans as recently as under the previous administration, let’s stop calling it “obscure.” Just call it what it is: a statute – and Trump’s Treasury Secretary is breaking the law when he refuses to comply with it.
Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a leading contractor for President Trump’s inaugural committee and a former adviser to the first lady, Melania Trump, has publicly disputed accounts of her departure from the White House last year, rejecting claims from officials that she had been dismissed.
Ms. Winston Wolkoff specifically took issue with suggestions by White House officials that she was forced out because of reports that she had profited excessively from her role in helping organize inaugural events. She gave her account of what happened in a statement to The New York Times more than a year after she parted ways with the White House, where she had served as an unpaid adviser to Mrs. Trump after the inauguration.
“Was I fired? No,” Ms. Winston Wolkoff said in the statement. “Did I personally receive $26 million or $1.6 million? No. Was I thrown under the bus? Yes.”
It was the first time Ms. Winston Wolkoff has provided extensive public comments about the events around her split from the White House, including characterizations at the time by White House officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, that she had been forced out because of reports about lavish spending on the inauguration.
Her lawyer recently informed inaugural committee officials that she had been cooperating since last fall with federal prosecutors in Manhattan investigating the committee’s spending and fund-raising.
I wonder if she’s cooperating with the House Judiciary Committee as well. The head of the Inaugural Committee, Tom Barrack, has announced that he’s cooperating. Although I’m skeptical if he will be truthful when push comes to shove since he is a staunch friend and unrelenting defender of Trump.
The strange goings on within Inaugural Committee was not in the Mueller Report. This area could use more investigation.
Rachel Maddow does a great job of explaining what is in the massive cache of documents that White House Counsel Don McGahn has been commanded to hand over to the House Judiciary Committee by 10am tomorrow (Tues., May 7). The entire segment is worth watching, but if you’re most interested in this “trove of evidence,” zoom to the 6 minute mark.
The two big questions are: 1) Will McGahn refuse to comply with the subpoena? 2) Even if McGahn agrees to comply, will Trump try to block him at the last minute? We’ll soon find out!
She does a GREAT job…and all of her guests say once they are introduced if she got the story right, and they ALWAYS say…yes, you have explained it very well.
McGahn seems to know that he as WH lawyer could only act on certain things, and was smart to set his limits when it came to T, and his trusty Annie Donaldson who wrote those notes. McGahn was saving his own hide when it came to talking with Mueller’s team absolutely.
But McGahn accomplished his goals in that position - load the courts with very conservative judges - See Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and all the judges they found via the Federalist Society and put into judgeships.
McGahn has since gone back into a law firm, the one that he left. He got what he needed - prestige job, protect his job, get others hired, CYA.
McGahn, who left the West Wing last October, was a key figure in the selection and confirmations of Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh, whose nomination last year was roiled by sexual misconduct allegations.
According to two Senate GOP aides, McGahn has recently boosted Neomi Rao, Trump’s nominee to replace Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in phone calls with lawmakers. Rao has encountered some Republican resistance, with a few GOP senators questioning whether she would expand abortion rights.
McGahn declined to comment about private exchanges.
McGahn’s moves inside and outside the White House have drawn criticism for giving conservative groups such as the powerful Federalist Society and their allies too much influence in the judicial nomination process.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen the equivalence of the Federalist Society in any administration prior, either Republican or Democratic,” said Walter E. Dellinger, a former acting solicitor general for President Bill Clinton. “You have the White House, Federalist Society and Senate leadership working together in an unprecedented way.”