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Congressional Committee Investigations into Trump

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#61

The White House has instructed a former official who was in charge of the security clearance process to not comply with a House subpoena demanding his appearance for an interview, the latest move by the Trump administration to thwart Democratic-led investigations into all aspects of the presidency.

After a day of tense negotiations, the White House late Monday told the former official, Carl Kline, who now works at the Defense Department, to not appear at Tuesday’s deposition, contending that Democrats were seeking access to confidential information that should be off limits.

The move raises the prospect that the House Oversight Committee could seek to hold Kline in contempt, a step that Chairman Elijah Cummings warned Monday he would take.

Outrageous! First order of business tomorrow morning: Hold Kline in contempt. We need to pounce – as soon as he’s held in contempt, there will be more stalling by the Republicans. Every time the ball lands in our court we must slam it back over the net. :tennis:


#62

The NYT had an editorial today by Joe Lockhart saying the same thing and that keeping Trump in office will destroy the Republican party.


#63

House panel moves to hold former White House official in contempt after he obeys Trump administration’s instruction not to testify

The House Oversight Committee moved Tuesday to hold a former White House personnel security director in contempt of Congress for failing to appear at a hearing investigating alleged lapses in White House security clearance procedures.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said he would consult with the House counsel and members of the panel about scheduling a vote on contempt for former White House personnel security director Carl Kline. At the instruction of the White House, Kline failed to show up for scheduled testimony on security clearances.


#64

Thanks @matt


(Matt Kiser) #65

oopsies! thanks!


#66

I found this op-ed very compelling – it pretty much expresses my views on whether or not the House should start impeachment proceedings.

(Mods: Hope this is OK here. I tried to post in the “Must Read Op-Ed” thread, but hit a 3-post limit.)

By Eugene Robinson
Columnist

The constitutional case for impeaching President Trump was best made two decades ago by one of his most servile Republican enablers, Lindsey O. Graham, now the senior senator from South Carolina:

“You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body [the Senate] determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role . . . because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.

The political case for moving deliberately but fearlessly toward impeachment is even clearer: If timorous Democrats do not seize and define this moment, Trump surely will.

What just happened is that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III delivered a searing indictment of a president who has no idea what “honor” and “integrity” even mean — a president who lies almost pathologically, who orders subordinates to lie, who has no respect for the rule of law, who welcomed Russian interference in the 2016 election, who clumsily tried to orchestrate a coverup, who tried his best to impede a lawful Justice Department investigation and failed only to the extent that aides ignored his outrageous and improper orders.

What Trump claims just happened is a “witch hunt.”

Anyone who thinks there is a chance that Trump will lick his wounds and move on has not been paying attention. Having escaped criminal charges — because he is a sitting president — Trump will go on the offensive. With the help of Attorney General William P. Barr, whose title really should be Minister of Spin, the president will push to investigate the investigators and sell the bogus counternarrative of an attempted “coup” by politically motivated elements of the “deep state.”

Here is the important thing: Trump will mount this attack no matter what Democrats do. And strictly as a matter of practical politics, the best defense against Trump has to be a powerful offense.

I fail to see the benefit for Democrats, heading into the 2020 election, of being seen as such fraidy-cats that they shirk their constitutional duty. Mueller’s portrait of this president and his administration is devastating. According to Graham’s “honor and integrity” standard — which he laid out in January 1999, when he was one of the House prosecutors for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in the Senate — beginning the process of impeaching Trump is not a close call.

It is also important for Democrats to keep their eyes on the prize. The election is the one guaranteed opportunity to throw Trump and his band of grifters out of the White House, and the big anti-Trump majority that was on display in last year’s midterm elections must be maintained and, one hopes, expanded.

But that task will largely fall to the eventual Democratic nominee, whoever that turns out to be. Presidential contenders should be free to position themselves however they see fit on the impeachment question. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has chosen to single herself out by leading the charge. Others may choose to demur and focus instead on the kitchen-table issues, such as health care, that polls show voters care about.

But most Democratic members of Congress (believe it or not) are not running for president. Their focus has to be on their constitutional duty — and nowhere in the Constitution does it say “never mind about presidential obstruction of justice or abuse of power if there’s an election next year.”

I have no intention of letting congressional Republicans off the hook. They have constitutional responsibilities as well, though it’s clear they will not fulfill them. Imagine, for a moment, if the tables were turned — if a GOP majority were running the House and a Democratic president did half of what Trump did. Do you think Republicans would hesitate for a New York minute? Articles of impeachment would have been drawn up long ago and stern-faced senators, including Graham, would already be sitting in judgment.

The conventional wisdom is that Republicans made a political error by impeaching Clinton. But they did win the White House in 2000 and go on to dominate Congress for most of President George W. Bush’s tenure. If impeachment was a mistake, it wasn’t a very costly one.

Does it “play into Trump’s hands” to speak of impeachment? I think it plays into the president’s hands to disappoint the Democratic base and come across as weak and frightened. Voters who saw the need to hold Trump accountable decided to give Democrats some power — and now expect them to use it.


#67

The White House plans to fight a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee for former White House counsel Donald McGahn to testify, according to people familiar with the matter, setting up another showdown in the aftermath of the special counsel report.

The Trump administration also plans to oppose other requests from House committees for the testimony of current and former aides about actions in the White House described in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report, according to two people familiar with internal thinking.

White House lawyers plan to tell attorneys for administration witnesses called by the House that they will be asserting executive privilege over their testimony, officials said.


#68

A deadline for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to turn President Donald Trump’s tax returns over to a congressional tax oversight committee expired on Tuesday without lawmakers receiving the documents, a committee aide said.

The outcome, which was widely expected, could prompt Democrats who control the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee to subpoena the documents, as an opening salvo in what many expect to be a lengthy court battle that might have to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.


#69

Follow up about Mnuchin missing the deadline set by the Ways and Means committee. Same old excuse, Trump’s tax returns still under audit.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin again delayed a decision on whether to turn over President Trump’s tax returns to Congress, telling House lawmakers late Tuesday that the Treasury and Justice Departments needed until May 6 to assess the legality of the “unprecedented” request.

In a letter to Representative Richard E. Neal, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Mnuchin said that the Treasury Department “cannot act upon your request unless and until it is determined to be consistent with law.” Mr. Mnuchin said the department expected to make a final decision by May 6 “after receiving the Justice Department’s legal conclusions.”

Earlier Tuesday, Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, signaled that Mr. Trump was girding for a protracted fight over his tax returns.


#70

True to form, the Republicans are stalling another two weeks. What are the odds that Trump’s handpicked defender running the DoJ will allow his department to actually conclude “yes, it’s OK to comply with the law”? The contempt citation for Mnuchin, should already have been locked and loaded – and it should be served now. Somehow, I doubt that will happen, but I would be pleasantly surprised if it did.

I will say this: Following an outright refusal by Mnuchin on May 6 (or a request for more time, or some other b.s.), I’ll be one p.o.'d Democrat if I hear that the Ways and Means Committee is “now considering its options,” or “consulting with counsel” or some similar wishy washy response. The time for all considering and consulting has passed.

This piece from Above the Law makes an excellent case for holding Mnuchin and Kline in contempt immediately.

A constant feature of the Trump administration involves Donald Trump or his sycophants doing something unethical or wrong, people screaming “that’s illegal,” and then lawyers running around explaining the difference between “laws” and “norms.” It happens so often that one gets the impression that there are no laws, or that Trump is some kind of Bill Belichick evil genius who carefully stays within the letter of the law while completely disregarding the spirit of the law.

Because we’re so defeated by Trump’s flagrant disregard for norms, it kind of goes under the radar when Trump violates actual laws and gets away with it because he’s violating laws we don’t normally enforce. That’s a little bit of what’s happening with the Mueller report. The report outlines multiple violations of law, but the DOJ doesn’t normally charge sitting presidents with crimes. Nobody is willing to break the norms to stop a norm breaker, even when the norm breaker violates actual laws.

That bullshit must end. Somebody has to be willing to violate some freaking norms in order to attack Trump and his people. Trump is out here throwing eggs off a balcony, and everybody is running around trying to catch the eggs, instead of blowing up the balcony.

If might be a while before Democrats go from zero to impeachment, what with their lack of vertebrae making it hard for them to move at pace. But I have some easier prey for Democrats to practice on, as they try to learn what strength is all about: let’s go get Steve Mnuchin and Carl Kline.

Steven Mnuchin is the Treasury Secretary and therefore the head of the IRS. In a few hours, he will be in violation of a Congressional order to remit six years of Donald Trump’s tax returns for Congressional review. The law is clearly on Congress’s side, and Mnuchin is violating that law in order to appease his master.

If Mnuchin refuses to release the tax returns today, Congress should hold him in contempt tomorrow. The contempt can be a precursor to formal impeachment proceedings against Mnuchin for refusing to perform his duties as Treasury Secretary.

Carl Kline is a security specialist, subpoenaed to testify in front of the House Oversight Committee about the security clearance given to Jared Kushner. The White House told Kline to ignore the subpoena, and Kline’s lawyers told the committee that he was afraid of complying with Congress for fear of losing his job at the Pentagon.

Yes, Democrats should add another count of witness intimidation to their impeachment charges against Donald Trump. But in the meantime, they should hold Kline in contempt of Congress.

Refusing to respond to lawful requests from Congress is a violation of an actual law. Not a norm, not a convention, but a straight-up freaking law.

Contempt of Congress is defined in statute, 2 U.S.C.A. § 192, enacted in 1938, which states that any person who is summoned before Congress who “willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry” shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a maximum $1,000 fine and 12 month imprisonment.

Congress can vote to hold these people in contempt tomorrow, and theoretically throw them in jail tomorrow for their refusal to comply with a Congressional investigation. …

The second half of this piece dives into Congress’s legal options for enforcing the Contempt of Congress statute. Very informative – highly recommended.


#71

100% this and if the shoe was on the other foot, they wouldn’t even blink.


#72

Please, please, please, throw them in jail!


#73

John Gore, who heads the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, will not appear for a deposition scheduled for tomorrow with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, according to a letter the Justice Department sent the committee chairman on April 24.

Stephen Boyd, the department’s top Hill liaison, wrote in the letter, which The Daily Beast obtained, that Gore will not appear as long as Chairman Elijah Cummings blocks him from bringing along lawyers from the Justice Department.

The committee wants to question Gore about his role in the Trump administration’s effort to add a question to the 2020 Census about citizenship. The committee authorized a subpoena of Gore earlier this month. His refusal to participate in a deposition may result in an effort by the committee to hold him in contempt.


#74

President Donald Trump vowed Wednesday to battle every subpoena lodged by House Democrats.

“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Trump told reporters outside the White House, en route to an event in Georgia on the opioid crisis.

In recent months, House Democratic leaders have issued dozens of requests for information or cooperation from Trump, his administration and his associates.

[…]

On Tuesday, Trump told The Washington Post that he did not see any reason to “go any further” in allowing his aides to testify before congressional committees, “especially in Congress where it’s very partisan — obviously very partisan.”

Trump has already backed up his rhetoric with action: On Monday, the president sued House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and the president’s former accounting firm Mazars to block a subpoena seeking years of financial information from Trump and his businesses.

Several legal scholars have since noted that the lawsuit against the accounting firm is a long shot and appears to be more of a delay tactic than anything else. In their justification for why the courts should block the release of the president’s taxes, Trump’s lawyers cite case law from an 1880 ruling as their precedent. In 1927, that precedent was replaced with a much broader reading of congressional powers, which has set the legal standard ever since, although Trump’s lawyers do not mention this.

“They’re seeking … to overturn the entire modern case law that the courts have put together to respect Congress’ investigative power,” University of Baltimore law professor Charles Tiefer told The Washington Post. “These suits look like an act of desperation by the Trump lawyers.”


#75

Yes…stall, refute the law, bring their own lawyers in…defy, defiant, and defiantly reckless with the law AND checks on balance of power.

No one is above the law vs (R’s & T) will not let go of their power.

Unreal. :exploding_head:

.


#76

Is Trump currently obstructing congressional investigations? What do you all think?

Special counsel Robert Mueller may be done, but President Donald Trump and his team are still adding to an already hefty record of evidence that could fuel impeachment proceedings or future criminal indictments.

Team Trump’s bellicose tweets and public statements in the last few days are potentially exposing Trump to fresh charges of witness intimidation, obstruction of justice and impeding a congressional investigation — not to mention giving lawmakers more fodder for their presidential probes — according to Democrats and legal experts.

[…]

But the president’s taunts and missives directed at their investigations — and the potential witnesses they may call — could end up serving a double purpose: goading Democrats into taking the plunge on impeachment and also delivering them evidence to support the case.

“It is unrealistic to expect that the president is going to suddenly change his behavior or suddenly manifest respect for the rule of law,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), another Judiciary Committee member. “The president ought to be accountable for any additional conduct that may constitute an attempt to impede or interfere.”

“We ought to consider not only the full contents of the Mueller report but any subsequent conduct,” Cicilline added.

[…]

Legal experts disagree, and many see the president’s continuous chatter as ripe material for federal prosecutors if they decided to take the monumental step of pursuing Trump after he’s out of office.

While Mueller nodded to longstanding Justice Department legal opinions that a sitting president can’t be indicted as he explained his decision not to conclude whether Trump obstructed justice, he also included a footnote near the end of his report highlighting the risks that Trump nonetheless faces in both Congress and the courts.

[…]

“A possible remedy through impeachment for abuses of power would not substitute for potential criminal liability after a President leaves office,” Mueller wrote. “Impeachment would remove a President from office, but would not address the underlying culpability of the conduct or serve the usual purposes of the criminal law.”

Essentially, legal experts say, Mueller is signaling that Trump could face criminal charges even if he was impeached.

Any prosecutors who indict Trump after he’s out of office would be working with a five-year statute of limitations on obstruction of justice cases. That means the president could only be exposed for any behavior during his first term if he doesn’t win re-election next November. But anything Trump does from here on out would keep restarting that five-year clock, meaning a second term wouldn’t make him bullet proof.

[…]

A House Intelligence Committee Democratic source argued that the panel is “uniquely positioned” to investigate obstruction of its own probes should the commentary continue.

“It’s clear that the White House plans to obstruct all legitimate congressional oversight, just like Trump obstructed in Mueller’s probe at every turn and witnesses previously obstructed our committee,” the source said.


#77

Header has been updated. :pushpin:


#78

Oh

A contempt citation can take many forms, from a symbolic vote on the House floor to the long-dormant inherent contempt, in which an individual or official is held against their will until they comply. Congress can also vote to refer someone to the US attorney in DC to put before the grand jury for potential prosecution, but that’s a limited option if the President has asserted executive privilege.

“There is no clear, simple, easy enforcement mechanism because it has depended on institutional relationships for so long,” said John Bies, the chief counsel at American Oversight and a former Justice Department lawyer. “The system has never really been tested this way.”

It’s been decades since Congress tried to invoke historical options like jailing someone.

“In the old days, the contemnor risked being arrested by the sergeant-at-arms and hauled off to the Capitol jail,” Vladeck said. “Because we don’t do that anymore, the downside is just political, not legal.”

The next option for the House is to sue to enforce the subpoena in court, a process that can take months or years. That can be done along with a contempt citation, but it doesn’t have to be done in tandem. As a result, congressional Democrats will have to make decisions about what to prioritize in an environment where the administration stands to gain more from stonewalling than complying with their requests.

In the wake of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has encouraged her members to focus on their own investigations rather than launch impeachment proceedings. But in an era where Trump has pledged total resistance, the fight to get information could turn into a series of court battles that could force Democrats to make decisions about which fights to pick with the White House.

Democrats have issued a subpoena for the full, unredacted Mueller report. And, a fight for the President’s tax returns is also expected to go to court eventually. In upcoming weeks and months, members and aides will have to decide how many of the subpoena fights, including those subpoenas for individual interviews and testimony, they are willing to take to the courts where the process could drag out far beyond their majority or even Trump’s time in the White House.


#79

Darn. Maybe it’s time to bring it back. Can you imagine the uproar that would cause?!

I wasn’t for impeachment at this stage, but this is pushing me in that direction. I wish Republicans were appalled by this.


#80

The White House has informed the House Oversight Committee that aide Stephen Miller will nottestify before the panel about his role in President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration policies, according to a letter obtained by CNN.

In the Wednesday letter, White House counsel Pat Cipollone says there’s “long-standing precedent” for the White House to decline offers for staff to testify on Capitol Hill. Instead, the White House counsel said Cabinet secretaries and other executive branch officials would make a “reasonable accommodation” for House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings’ questions on immigration policy.

But the move is likely only to ratchet up tensions between the White House and the Maryland Democrat after both the administration and the Trump Organization have defied three of his subpoenas this week alone – and have pushed back against a number of his other demands.