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Congressional Committee Investigations into Trump

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#161

@Pet_Proletariat – Thanks for this. These paragraphs really stood out to me.

“The department has repeatedly failed to respond, refused to schedule any testimony, and provided no documents responsive to our legitimate and duly authorized oversight activities,” Schiff said in a statement.

“The department repeatedly pays lip service to the importance of a meaningful accommodation process, but it has only responded to our efforts with silence or outright defiance,” Schiff added. “Today, we have no choice but to issue a subpoena to compel their compliance.”

In his letter to Barr informing the attorney general of the subpoena, Schiff said the Intelligence Committee required the information in order to “discharge its unique constitutional and statutory responsibilities,” including conducting oversight, examining potential national security issues and drawing up legislation to address vulnerabilities.

Yes! Schiff makes it clear that Trump cares more about his own skin than our nation’s security. The Intel Committee needs this intel – they need it to protect us – that is their purpose. Trump has done nothing to guard against foreign attacks on our elections – and when Congress actually tries to do something about it, he suppresses vital information that they need to do their job. Shameful.


#162

Tonight Rachel Maddow reviewed a list of questions for Mueller that have been drafted by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. They are all excellent questions and truthfully make me wonder if Mueller really did as thorough a job as we were assuming he was. I know he was operating under constraints limiting what he could investigate, and I know some of his findings are hidden from us while 12 related investigations are ongoing, and maybe Barr pressured him to wrap up before he wanted to, but despite all these reasons to cut Mueller some slack, I still wonder if some crucial areas of investigation were passed over. And that’s all the more reason to hear his testimony and ask him these essential questions.

Here’s the complete list of questions.


#163

Yes, these get to a lot of unknown parameters of the investigation and would answer a lot of probing questions key to finding out “what did the president know, and when did he know it.” They are so direct and so revealing and it would be great to hear back from Mueller if he was able to answer them fully.

I wonder if Barr threw down a gauntlet, so to speak and told Mueller, “under no circumstances is the President able to be indicted in office.” That alone would have curbed the investigation. Or did Mueller start off with this premise?

So many questions…and Maddow said the most important one to consider with all of these subpoenas going around, and various investigations, is that Mueller’s testimony is key to getting beneath the whys and how much the President was involved. The potential damning testimony is the thing T MOST fears, as do the R’s and they will do their best to prevent it from happening.

TICK TOCK


#164

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the United States is in a “constitutional crisis” and warned that House Democrats may move to hold more Trump administration officials in contempt of Congress if they continue their refusals to comply with committee subpoenas.

Speaking to reporters in the Capitol, Ms. Pelosi said she agreed with Representative Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who said Wednesday that the nation is in a constitutional crisis after his committee recommended the House hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over an unredacted version of the special counsel’s report, along with the report’s underlying evidence.

“The administration has decided they are not going to honor their oath of office,” she said.

Ms. Pelosi said Democrats would bring the contempt citation to the floor for a vote of the full House “when we are ready.”

Democrats have not settled on a precise date for the full House to vote to hold Mr. Barr in contempt of Congress, though Mr. Nadler said after Wednesday’s vote that he wanted a vote scheduled “rapidly.”


#165

Thanks @matt, I totally missed this story. :woman_shrugging:t2:


#166

President Trump said on Thursday that he would leave it up to Attorney General William P. Barr to decide whether Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, may testify before Congress on the Russia investigation.

His comments were a seeming reversal, since Mr. Trump wrote over the weekend on Twitterthat Mr. Mueller should not be allowed to appear before Congress.


#167

In addition to declaring that we are in a “constitutional crisis:rotating_light: as posted by @Pet_Proletariat above, the Speaker of the House has indicated that Democrats may delay holding Barr in contempt for a “few weeks” while at the same time consolidating contempt charges for other individuals into a unified vote on the floor of the House.

My gut feeling is that they should move ahead swiftly and charge Barr immediately, but I also have faith in Pelosi and in Lieu and Schiff (who backed up her comments) - I just hope our Democratic leaders will act fiercely and chart the best course.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday that the House could pursue contempt charges against multiple people in Donald Trump’s orbit — not just Attorney General William Barr — as Democrats look to overcome the president’s blanket effort to hobble their investigations.

Pelosi declined to provide a timeline for when the full House would vote to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to provide the unredacted Mueller report, telling reporters there may be other related “issues” Democrats will want to handle simultaneously.

“When we’re ready we’ll come to the floor,” Pelosi said, a day after the House Judiciary Committee approved the contempt resoluion. “And we’ll just see because there may be some other contempt of Congress issues that we might want to deal with at the same time.”

Pelosi’s comments indicate Democrats could wait weeks to take further action against Barr, while they determine whether other Cabinet officials are interfering with committee requests that range from accessing Trump’s tax returns to demanding details about the U.S. Census’ citizenship question.

"We’re not going to wait a few months, but I think we could wait a few weeks," said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.).

Democrats have also mused about holding former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents to the Judiciary Committee connected to his testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller. And they’ve chafed at Trump’s move to have his personal attorneys try to disrupt Democratic efforts to subpoena Trump’s financial information from Deutsche Bank, Capitol One and Mazars USA.

Now we’re not even talking about isolated situations, we’re talking about a cumulative effect of obstruction that the administration is engaged in,” Pelosi said. “I support the path that our chairmen are on and I do believe that it will establish the case for where we go from here.”

Other Democrats have also talked in recent days about not moving to an immediate floor vote on Barr, saying it may be more advantageous to wait.

“Because the Trump administration has decided to do a blanket denial of all subpoenas, it’s not just affecting the Judiciary Committee, it’s affecting every committee that’s trying to get information on behalf of the American people,” Lieu said.

“We’re checking with other committees to see their timeline and if they’re also reasonably close to any contempt proceedings then we might just roll it all into one floor vote,” he added. “Intel, Oversight, Financial Services have all issued subpoenas.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, whose panel issued its own subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report on Wednesday, offered similar comments.

“A lot of these issues are coming to head in the various committees,” Schiff said on MSNBC Wednesday night.

“I think it would make sense to try to consolidate at least the date when we take up these contempt resolutions, if there are multiple resolutions, so they can be adjudicated at one time and we don’t take up time every week to re-litigate this.”

It’s that last sentence that gives me pause. Wouldn’t it actually be better to keep Trump’s acts of obstruction out there in front of the American people so they are in the headlines day after day and week after week? Will one consolidated vote really have more impact than multiple individual votes? Maybe the Democrats think the public will get “contempt fatigue,” but personally, I don’t think we will. :fist:


#168

This is very good.

Congress and Donald Trump’s fight over his financial records is now on the fast track.

Judge Amit Mehta plans next week to weigh the major legal issues raised in President Donald Trump’s challenge of a congressional subpoena for his accounting firm’s records, according to an order issued Thursday – putting the case on an even faster track than it previously looked to be.


#169

Republicans in the House Intel Committee are now praising Chairman Adam Schiff. I have no insight here but I don’t trust these fools. :smirk:

GOP Rep. Mike Conaway, the mild-mannered Texan who led the committee’s hotly politicized Russia probe last year, is suddenly praising Schiff for creating a newfound sense of comity on the Intelligence Committee — reflected in the committee’s bipartisan request for all of special counsel Robert Mueller’s files.

“Schiff probably deserves the lion’s share of the credit because he sets the tone as chairman,” said Conaway, adding that California Rep. Devin Nunes, the panel’s top Republican, also deserves credit for the detente.

“Let’s keep looking through the front windshield and not reprise a fight that’s behind us,” Conaway added. “The committee for the last several weeks has operated old school, and that’s a credit to leadership — Adam Schiff’s leadership as well as Devin’s.”

Conaway’s comments come as GOP leaders and top committee Republicans rail against Democrat-led investigations targeting Trump.

Conaway led the call among all committee Republicans for Schiff to resign as chairman, taking the extraordinary step of announcing the GOP push to oust Schiff during a March hearing. The resignations calls followed Attorney General William Barr’s four-page letter stating that Mueller didn’t find evidence that Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election.


#170

Make it $50k per day. :smirk: Go hard or go home. JK.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told Axios’ Mike Allen Friday that the House is considering reviving its “inherent contempt” power, which would allow Congress to enforce subpoenas through coercive measures like fines.

“Much as I like the visual of [throwing people in jail], I think it’s far more practical to consider levying individual fines on the person — not the office — until they comply. You could fine someone $25,000 a day until they comply. You can do that. We’re looking through the history and studying the law to make sure we’re on solid ground.”


#171

Lots of cautious debate about opening an impeachment investigation as the President continues to balk at any and all congressional oversight. If congress can’t check and balance the executive branch, we are in a total constitutional crisis.

House Judiciary Committee Democrats on Wednesday voted to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt for refusing to hand over the unredacted Mueller report and the special counsel’s underlying evidence. The contempt citation says the full Mueller report is needed to determine whether the committee should be “taking any further steps” to check the executive branch.

“That includes whether to approve articles of impeachment with respect to the President or any other Administration official,” the resolution says.

But some lawyers with Hill experience are cautioning Democrats against embracing impeachment proceedings solely for the benefit of new arguments to make in their legal briefs.

“I don’t think it’s the panacea that’s going to make all the problems go away,” said Alan Baron, who worked as an attorney for the House Judiciary Committee on four judicial impeachments, including the Hastings case.

“It does help you, but it doesn’t solve all your problems,” Baron added. He predicted the Trump administration would still resist Democratic-driven demands if it were to face impeachment and try to drag things out in court through the 2020 election. “The clock is already running,” he said.

Ted Kalo, a former general counsel for House Judiciary Democrats, cautioned against the “mistaken assumption that the commencement of an impeachment inquiry grants the House superpowers that would cause the Trump administration to comply with subpoenas quickly.”

“It wouldn’t,” he added. “It’s fair to assume the administration would still stonewall and the House would still be left with litigation as its primary means of enforcing its subpoenas.”


#172

The White House is essentially telling Congress to “impeach or move on”.

As the White House and Congress escalate their constitutional showdown, President Trump and his team are essentially trying to call what they see as the Democrats’ bluff. The message: Put up or shut up. Impeach or move on.

Confident that there are not enough votes to remove him from office through an impeachment trial in the Senate, Mr. Trump and his advisers have chosen the path of maximum resistance, calculating that they can put the Democrats on the defensive in a fight that is politically useful for the president.

The decision to assert executive privilege and defy subpoenas across the board suits Mr. Trump’s natural combative instincts and fits the grievance narrative he has adopted by arguing that the establishment is out to get him. The president seems eager to force the hand of Democrats who are investigating him as if they are conducting an impeachment inquiry without actually calling it that and risking any of the political problems that might come with it.

“If it’s an impeachment proceeding, then somebody should call it that,” said Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of the president’s personal lawyers. “If you don’t call their bluff now, they’ll just keep slithering around for four, five, six months.”


#173

Older article but a good reminder.

The 4 Types of Constitutional Crises:

1. The Constitution doesn’t say what to do.

2. The Constitution’s meaning is in question.

3. The Constitution tells us what to do, but it’s not politically feasible.

4. Institutions themselves fail.


#174

Group Contempt of Congress hearings is actually a pretty funny idea.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Friday endorsed the idea of bundling several contempt resolutions against people or entities affiliated with President Trump before having lawmakers vote on them — a sign that House Democrats expect to be stepping up their legal battles with the administration in the coming weeks.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) told reporters, noting that while such a vote would not happen in the next week, “it’ll be soon.”

“Given the unprecedented situation in which the administration’s essentially stonewalling all subpoenas — we’ve never had this before in American history so far as I know — it just makes sense to spend as little floor time as possible and do them together,” Nadler said.


#175

The White House is trying to bullying conservative senators on the Senate Intel. Committee into not enforcing the subpoena sent to Don Jr.

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump Jr.’s political allies launched an all-out war against the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, turning several Republican senators Thursday against the panel’s chairman amid news that he subpoenaed testimony from the president’s son.

The broadsides included tweets targeting the Republican chairman, Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, calls from people close to the president to at least one vulnerable Republican senator, and a Breitbart story aimed at senators including the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, according to multiple people involved in the effort.

Even President Trump got involved on Thursday, telling reporters he was “pretty surprised” his son — “a very good person” — would be subpoenaed after Mr. Burr had said publicly he had found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The main target of the pressure campaign appeared to be Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, a close ally of Mr. Burr’s who is facing a conservative primary challenger next year. Some of Mr. Trump’s allies said they anticipated that the president would tweet support for Mr. Tillis’s primary opponent if the senator did not speak out.


#176

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) introduced an act on Friday that would “pause the statute of limitations for any federal offense committed by a sitting president.”

Between the lines: The “No President Is Above the Law Act” is likely an attempt to circumvent the Justice Department’s ruling that states a sitting president cannot be indicted or criminally prosecuted.

The big picture: Special counsel Robert Mueller laid out extensive evidence of possible obstruction by Trump in volume 2 of his report, though he ultimately opted not to make a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” in part because of the OLC opinion.

The backdrop: More than 650 former federal prosecutors have signed onto a statement asserting that if the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) did not prohibit a sitting president from being indicted, President Trump would be charged with obstruction of justice in the aftermath of Robert Mueller’s report.


#177

Next up for subpoenas Treasury Sec Steven Mnuchin and IRS Charles Rettig


#178

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal has issued subpoenas for President Donald Trump’s tax returns, the committee told CNN on Friday, an escalation in the fight for the President’s personal financial records and the latest step this week in Democrats’ fight for information from the Trump administration.

Neal sent subpoenas to both IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. A Treasury spokesman confirmed to CNN it has received Neal’s subpoena request.

Neal, who has unilateral subpoena power, took the step days after the Treasury Department formally denied Neal’s request for six years of the President’s personal and business tax returns earlier this week.


#179

:boom:

McGahn must testify!

The White House requested that former White House counsel Don McGahn publicly state that President Donald Trump didn’t obstruct justice, but McGahn declined, an administration official told CNN on Friday.

The timing of the White House’s request – which was made through top White House lawyer Emmet Flood, according to the official – is unclear.

The official and a separate source familiar with the matter said that McGahn previously told special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators he didn’t believe Trump obstructed justice.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the White House’s appeal to McGahn.


#180

A little news analysis from the New York Times. Good article.

Congress’s power to punish refusals to cooperate is a more complicated matter. In theory, it can take matters into its own hands, instructing the sergeant-at-arms to take witnesses into custody until they agree to testify. That method has not been used since 1935.

It could ask the Justice Department to pursue contempt proceedings, but earlier administrations have refused to cooperate in disputes involving executive branch officials, and the current one would no doubt follow suit.

The House can go to court on its own, and probably will, but the resulting proceedings are likely to be lengthy. If history is a reliable guide, the administration is likely to lose confrontations over congressional subpoenas, though is not clear that the Trump administration would comply with any eventual court order.

There is a fourth alternative, one that serves two goals, said Michael Conway, who served as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during impeachment proceedings against President Richard M. Nixon. Were the House to open impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump, its right to gather information would be strengthened, Mr. Conway said. And refusal to cooperate with such inquiries, he added, could itself be an impeachable offense.

Indeed, one article of impeachment against Mr. Nixon arose from his refusal to comply with such a congressional subpoena. He resigned rather than face what appeared to be certain impeachment and removal.

Mr. Conway said current lawmakers should consider that historical analogy.

“In Watergate, Congress acted by finding that interfering with the impeachment inquiry was in fact itself an impeachable offense,” Mr. Conway said. “Short of that, I don’t think Congress is going to be able to get these subpoenas enforced in any timely way.”

In a 1974 report, the Judiciary Committee drew a similar conclusion. “Unless the defiance of the committee’s subpoenas under these circumstances is considered grounds for impeachment,” the report said, “it is difficult to conceive of any president acknowledging that he is obligated to supply the relevant evidence necessary for Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibility in an impeachment proceeding.”

Congressional investigations have more than one goal, Professor Marshall said.

“The value of congressional oversight is not only that it might uncover previous wrongdoing,” he said. “It is also that it serves as a deterrence going forward. A White House free of congressional oversight will likely behave far differently than one that knows it can be the subject of congressional investigations.”