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Congressional Committee Investigations into Trump 2019

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#141

Breaking:

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn will not comply with a congressional subpoena for documents related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, after the White House instructed him not to abide by House Democrats’ demands.

The WH is citing executive privilege after the fact.

The White House on Tuesday invoked executive privilege to bar former White House counsel Donald McGahn from complying with a congressional subpoena to provide documents to Congress related to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone wrote in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee that McGahn does not have the legal right to comply with its subpoena for 36 types of documents — most relating to Mueller’s nearly two-year probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Rather, Cipollone argued the committee needed to send the request to the White House — and even hinted that they could assert privilege to block the information.

“The White House provided these records to Mr. McGahn in connection with its cooperation with the special counsel’s investigation and with the clear understanding that the records remain subject to the control of the White House for all purposes,” he wrote. “The White House records remain legally protected from disclosure under long-standing constitutional principles, because they implicate significant executive branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege.”


#142

taunting, taunting, taunting

President Donald Trump is “goading” Democrats to try and impeach him because he believes it would help “solidify his base” of supporters, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday.

Pelosi has not been shy about publicly criticizing the president and his administration. But she has shown clear resistance toward the politically fraught prospect of impeaching Trump, even amid growing pressure from her progressive Democratic colleagues to support the drastic move.

[…]

"Trump — I use his name — Trump is goading us to impeach him," she said. "That’s what he’s doing. Every single day, he’s just like taunting, taunting, taunting."

Pelosi said Trump was dropping that bait because "he knows that it would be very divisive in the country, but he doesn’t really care. He just wants to solidify his base."

[…]

Pelosi described impeachment as a difficult political situation for Democrats, in which the party risks alienating one bloc of supporters on the left if they refuse to impeach Trump, and another bloc of potential supporters in the middle if they proceed with impeachment.

As Pelosi described it, the party “can’t impeach him for political reasons,” but also can’t refuse to impeach him for political reasons, either. “We have to see where the facts take us,” she said.


#143

Header is updated. Breaking News Below. :point_down:


#144

The Justice Department offered on Tuesday to allow more congressional staffers access to a less-redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report — an attempt to head off a Wednesday vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a Democratic subpoena for Mueller’s entire findings and evidence.

The concessions also included allowing a select number of senior lawmakers — just 12 have been allowed access to the less-redacted version — to keep their handwritten notes on the report.

But importantly, the offer does not include allowing additional lawmakers to view the document, and those who can would still be forbidden from discussing it or sharing their notes with colleagues — leaving a key demand from Democrats unresolved.

According to two sources familiar with Tuesday’s negotiating session, the Justice Department offered to allow each of the lawmakers to bring two staffers — instead of just one — to view the less-redacted version.

Initially, the department said it would only allow the top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, in addition to bipartisan House and Senate leaders, to view the less-redacted version.


#145

Waiting for this story… Nunes and Schiff working together again.


#146

Don’t take it!! I want contempt votes, fines & jail. This has gone on long enough & I’m out for blood :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:


#147

Don’t worry, they’re not going to take it.

Contempt of Congress for one William Barr has been scheduled for Wednesday morning, 10am. ET :popcorn::popcorn:

https://judiciary.house.gov/legislation/markups/committee-report-resolution-recommending-house-representatives-find-william-p


#148

The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday threatened to withhold the salaries of Interior Department officials who have blocked lawmakers from interviewing agency employees about whether Secretary David Bernhardt was complying with recordkeeping laws.

The committee’s threat ratchets up the pressure on Interior in the latest skirmish between House Democrats and the Trump administration over the lawmakers’ complaints that agencies are withholding documents and ignoring requests to send senior officials to testify before Congress.


#149

:hugs::hugs::hugs:

The House Intelligence Committee’s Democratic chairman and Republican ranking member are threatening to hit the Justice Department with a rare bipartisan subpoena if the department doesn’t hand over testimony and briefing materials produced by Special Counsel Robert Mueller during the Russia investigation.

In a letter dated April 25, Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) wrote to Attorney General Bill Barr, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and FBI Director Christopher Wray to complain that the “Department of Justice and the FBI failed to keep the Committee ‘fully and currently informed’” of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information obtained in the course of Mueller’s investigation. Schiff and Nunes expressed concerns that the Department and Bureau also failed to the address the committee’s prior request for Mueller to testify before the committee.

WSJ has it too.

Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, joined with committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) in a bipartisan letter late last month demanding that the Justice Department turn over the evidence Mr. Mueller collected related to intelligence or counterintelligence matters.

A copy of the letter was shown to The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday by an intelligence committee aide, who said the panel would “soon” consider a subpoena if the Justice Department didn’t begin talks about how to fulfill the panel’s request.


#150

Watch the vote in the House here :point_down:


#151

Just as the first vote is completed to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in Contempt of Congress.

President Trump asserted executive privilege on Wednesday in an effort to shield hidden portions of Robert S. Mueller III’s unredacted report and the evidence he collected from Congress.

The assertion, Mr. Trump’s first use of the secrecy powers as president, came as the House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Wednesday morning to recommend the House of Representatives hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for the same material.

“This is to advise you that the president has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials,” a Justice Department official, Stephen E. Boyd, wrote Wednesday morning, referencing not only the Mueller report but the underlying evidence that House Democrats are seeking.

Mr. Barr released a redacted version of the special counsel’s 448-page report voluntarily last month. But Democrats say that is not good enough, and they have accused the attorney general of stonewalling a legitimate request for material they need to carry out an investigation into possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by Mr. Trump.


#152

Just for fun. I concur, this is the Michael Scott Presidency. :clap:


#153

In the recording, provided to Observer by Arnold, Cohen lamented his time testifying before the House Intelligence Committee during a closed door hearing in March.

[…]

Last summer, Cohen resigned as the RNC’s deputy finance chairman following investigations into his business dealings led by the special counsel and New York’s Southern District. He departed the organization soon after Steve Wynn and Elliott Broidy left the RNC’s finance committee—the former over allegations of sexual misconduct, the latter following reports of an alleged payoff to a Playboy model.

“They’re attacking me as if i’m the worst human being on the planet,” continued Cohen. “But they thought I was the greatest when me, Steve Wynn, Elliott Broidy… we were raising money like it was going out of style.”

[…]

On the current RNC chair, Ronna McDaniel, Cohen spoke harshly.

“Ronna Romney McDaniel, who is one of the worst human beings on the planet, she’s just a bad human being,” said Trump’s former fixer. “Don’t let that Mormon nonsense fool you. She is not a good person.”

Cohen is currently serving time in Otisville Correctional Facility for campaign finance violations, lying to Congress and other crimes.

“Michael Cohen is a proven liar. In fact, he is currently serving a prison sentence for lying,” a spokesperson for the RNC told Observer. “The truth is, Cohen barely raised a dime for the RNC. He was lazy, and untrustworthy. We hope the prison system does its job and he is able to emerge a better man.”

Yeah he did those things but who hired him? Under whose orders did he follow? Why is Cohen in prison?


#154

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pelosi-says-trump-is-becoming-self-impeachable/2019/05/08/87464a68-718c-11e9-9f06-5fc2ee80027a_story.html?utm_term=.21684b26aa6f

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that President Trump is “becoming self-impeachable,” pointing to his efforts to fight all subpoenas from congressional investigations and prevent key aides from testifying before Congress.

“The point is that every single day, whether it’s obstruction, obstruction, obstruction — obstruction of having people come to the table with facts, ignoring subpoenas . . . every single day, the president is making a case — he’s becoming self-impeachable, in terms of some of the things that he is doing,” Pelosi said at a Washington Post Live event.


#155

Good primer, click link for more.

What is Congress’s subpoena power?

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution gives Congress broad authority to investigate matters of national interest as it considers what laws to pass.

That power “includes surveys of defects in our social, economic or political system for the purpose of enabling the Congress to remedy them,” justices have written. “It comprehends probes into departments of the federal government to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste.”

This oversight role, courts have said, includes the power to issue subpoenas compelling people and organizations to turn over documents or testify, even if they do not want to comply.

What can lawmakers do if someone defies a subpoena?

They can vote to hold someone who defies a subpoena in contempt of Congress. First, the committee that issued the subpoena would vote to recommend that step — the move the Judiciary Committee was considering on Wednesday — and then the full House of Representatives would vote on whether to do so. Just one chamber can do this, so it does not matter that Republicans control the Senate.

What is the punishment for contempt of Congress?

On paper, defying a congressional subpoena for testimony or documents is a misdemeanor crime, punishable by one to 12 months in jail. But in practice, this law is generally toothless in disputes between Congress and the executive branch. Invoking prosecutorial discretion, the Justice Department can decline to charge an official who defies a subpoena at the president’s direction.

Can Congress enforce a contempt citation on its own?

In theory, yes, but this is outdated. Historically, Congress has exercised “inherent contempt” authority to detain recalcitrant witnesses until the end of its session. But Congress has not tried to use that authority since 1935.

Congress lacks any prison for holding someone in long-term detention, and trying to use its limited security forces to arrest an executive branch official could provoke a dangerous standoff. While some lawmakers have talked about instead imposing a fine, there is no precedent for that, according to the Congressional Research Service, and it is not clear how the House could enforce that penalty.

What about going to court?

Congress could ask a federal judge to enforce its subpoena — and declare witnesses who defy any judicial order to provide the information to Congress in contempt of court. If the Justice Department declines to prosecute someone for contempt of court, judges can appoint special prosecutors to bring the case instead. Still, Mr. Trump could pre-emptively pardon such defendants.

Is Congress’s subpoena power unlimited?

No. For one thing, the Supreme Court has saidthere must be a link between the information and a legitimate task of Congress, like weighing whether a new law is needed. Lawmakers cannot use their subpoena power and expose private affairs simply to aggrandize investigators or punish a target.

What are other limits on Congress’s power?

Even if lawmakers are conducting a legitimate investigation, it is not a crime to defy a subpoena if there is a legal basis to do so. For example, it is not a crime to refuse to answer questions under one’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

What about executive privilege?

A valid assertion of executive privilege by the president can also provide a basis to lawfully defy a subpoena, so Mr. Trump’s invocation of it gives Mr. Barr an argument and a shield as the matter moves toward a likely court fight.

The Supreme Court has ruled that presidents have the authority keep secret certain internal communications, including discussions with aides about how to carry out their constitutional duties. The lines are murky between where Congress’s power stops and the president’s begins, in part because such disputes are usually resolved through compromises rather than definitive rulings.

Notably, judges have said they want to see the two branches engage in good-faith negotiations to find a compromise that accommodates the constitutional needs of each, so Mr. Trump’s overt stonewalling may undermine the executive branch’s position when some of these disputes get into court.

But in the exchange of letters between the Trump administration and the Judiciary Committee leading up to Wednesday’s vote and invocation, the executive branch argued that it was trying to make accommodations in good faith about the Mueller report, so it was Congress that was being unreasonable.

The Trump administration had offered to let a small number of congressional leaders read a less-redacted version of the report that would permit them to see information related to, for example, ongoing investigations and cases, although not the grand-jury material.

But the Justice Department insisted that they sign nondisclosure agreements and take no notes away with them, so they would not be able to discuss what they saw even with other members of the Judiciary Committee. Democrats said that offer was insufficient.


#156

Posted this news in Day 839, but should have posted it in this thread. So here’s Buzzfeed’s reporting which has some information on what happens next (sorry about the duplication):

:rotating_light: :rotating_light: :rotating_light:

The House Judiciary Committee voted 24-16 Wednesday to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt for refusing to turn over an unredacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report as well as Mueller’s investigative files.

The vote is the first step — the resolution will then go before the full House. If Democrats want to sue Barr and the Justice Department to enforce their subpoena, they’ll have to specifically vote to do so, regardless of the final outcome of the contempt proceedings.


#157

Don Jr. is considering pleading the fifth?

The Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. for him to return and testify again, and the committee is now at a standoff with Trump’s eldest son, according to sources familiar with the matter.

One option Trump Jr. is considering in response to the subpoena is to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, and another is just to not appear at all, according to one source.

Discussions for Trump Jr’s testimony began several weeks ago before the Mueller report was released, the sources say. Trump Jr.'s team resisted giving testimony, in part, because the findings of the Mueller report were still not known.


#158

I just realized a huge takeaway here. It was a Republican-controlled Senate committee that issued the subpoena to Trump Jr.!! “Senate” was right there in the headline, staring me in the face, but I guess I’ve just become so conditioned to the fact that the House has been the only chamber executing responsible oversight of this administration that I totally overlooked that key word!

The daytime news panels are all over this – and here’s Vox’s take:

Donald Trump Jr. has been subpoenaed by a congressional committee investigating the Russia scandal — but the surprising twist is that it’s a Republican-controlled committee that has made the move.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has demanded Trump Jr. return for further testimony about the Trump Tower Moscow project and other matters…

It’s an intriguing development for a few reasons. First, it’s coming from a committee in the Republican-controlled Senate, chaired by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). Subpoenaing the president’s son is a dramatic move that we might have eventually expected from the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, so it’s noteworthy that a Republican-controlled body is taking this step first.

Second, news of the move comes even though special counsel Robert Mueller has wrapped up his investigation and declined to charge Trump Jr. with any crime — but, per Axios’s report, there are “questions” about Don Jr.’s previous testimony to Senate investigators that the committee wants to clear up.

In 2017, Trump Jr. testified about Russia-related matters behind closed doors to both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. His Intelligence Committee testimony has not been publicly released, but his Judiciary Committee testimony has been. In it, Trump Jr. claimed he knew “very little” about Michael Cohen’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and was only “peripherally aware” of it.

But Cohen later told a different story. The former Trump lawyer struck a plea deal in which he himself admitted lying to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow efforts in 2017. Cohen also testified this year that he briefed Trump family members on the project “approximately 10” times, and that those family members were Don Jr. and Ivanka (though he did not say if all 10 briefings were with Don Jr.).

So much for Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, announcing “case closed” – on the contrary, the actions of one of his own senior Republican senators are speaking louder than words: the case continues!


#159

@Keaton_James

Yup and I believe this is the 2nd instance of bipartisan oversight this week, with Nunes and Schiff requesting the counterintelligence findings from the Special Counsel‘s office. We’re getting closer…


#160

Schiff and Nunes subpoena everything, the unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, in addition to all of the foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information collected during the investigation.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff issued a subpoena to the Justice Department on Wednesday for the unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, in addition to all of the foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information collected during the 22-month investigation.

The subpoena comes after Schiff (D-Calif.) and his Republican counterpart, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, made a rare joint request for the documents. Schiff said the Justice Department had yet to respond to the committee’s request, prompting him to issue a subpoena.

[…]

The committee’s subpoena requires the Justice Department to turn over the documents by May 15.

Schiff and Nunes penned joint letters to Barr — one on March 27 and another on April 25 — demanding the full Mueller report and its supporting materials. In the second letter, the lawmakers threatened a subpoena “absent meaningful compliance” by the end of last week.