Don McGahn To Congress: LOCK! ME! UP! LOCK! ME! UP! LOCK! ME! UP!
This morning, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing that was supposed to star former White House counsel Don McGahn, whose testimony to Special Counsel Robert Mueller formed the lion's share of the Mueller Report's volume on Trump's obstruction of justice. The committee -- and the rest of us! -- would just love to hear McGahn tell Congress and the American public the stories he told Mueller, of how Donald Trump obstructed justice by ordering him to have Mueller fired, how McGahn threatened to resign because the president was asking him to do "crazy shit," and how, when that story became public, Trump obstructed justice again by asking McGahn to deny the press reports and create a fake paper trail denying the first obstruction of justice crime ever happened.
McGahn, of course, didn't show up at Congress today, because Donald Trump ordered McGahn, who is now a private citizen, to defy the subpoena sent by the committee.
House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler is pissed:
During an opening statement, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) vowed that his panel would eventually hear McGahn's testimony about alleged obstruction of justice by Trump "even if we have to go to court to secure it."
"We will not allow the president to block congressional subpoenas, putting himself and his allies above the law," Nadler said. "We will not allow the president to stop this investigation, and nothing in these unjustified and unjustifiable legal attacks will stop us from pressing forward with our work on behalf of the American people. We will hold this president accountable, one way or the other."
"[Trump] took to Twitter to call Mr. McGahn a liar. His lawyers went on cable television to do the same," Nadler said at a brief committee hearing that was supposed to feature McGahn's testimony.
"In short, the president took it upon himself to intimidate a witness who has a legal obligation to be here today," he added. "This conduct is not remotely acceptable."
Democrats didn't vote to hold McGahn in contempt this morning -- yet -- but Nadler said that just might be coming if McGahn doesn't get right with God and fix his shit.
We had an inkling what would happen this morning all the way back on Monday, when McGahn released a statement through his lawyer that said he was "obligated" to do what Donald Trump says and play hooky from Congress, because Donald Trump is his real daddy. (That might not be what the statement said verbatim.) Accompanying the announcement, because they're all justice-obstructing organs of the same criming shit-monster, the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) released a memo written by Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel (ghostwritten by Roy Cohn's wet farts, ALLEGEDLY) that said McGahn didn't have to testify, because Donald Trump is his real daddy, even though he doesn't actually work in the White House anymore, and even though Congress wants to question McGahn about shit that is already in the fucking Mueller Report, which makes Trump's claims of "executive privilege" some TOTAL FUCKING BULLSHIT. (That ... OK, that's basically what it said, except for the ALL CAPS ITALICS ARE YOU GODDAMNED FUCKING KIDDING US parts Wonkette added.)
The DOJ memo from Engel serves as a handy sidepiece to the letter current White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent Jerry Nadler last week, which argued with a straight face that Congress isn't allowed to investigate basically anything that might in any way hurt Donald Trump by exposing the truth about Donald Trump, because in Cipollone's dumbfuck eyes, the Judiciary Committee's investigations don't serve a "proper legislative purpose." For a handy rebuttal to that godforsaken nonsense, see DC District Judge Amit Mehta's ruling against Trump yesterday afternoon, which said Trump's accounting firm Mazars must comply with a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee to turn over Trump's financial records. For another handy rebuttal to that godforsaken nonsense, just open up the fucking Constitution. Pick an Article, any Article! (But mostly pick Article 1.)
The Washington Post erroneously headlined its report on McGahn's blow-off announcement, saying Trump had "blocked" McGahn from testifying, which is actually not a thing Trump can do with a private citizen. Nine paragraphs in, the Post told the truth:
As a private citizen no longer in the government, McGahn is not necessarily bound by the White House directive, or the Office of Legal Counsel memo, to refuse to comply with the subpoena.
And the choir said, "No fucking DUH."
Nadler responded with his own letter Monday night, and just like this morning, he was pissed. Nadler noted that the OLC memo didn't actually cite case law -- because there isn't any -- supporting its contention that McGahn isn't required to appear, but mostly cited its own previous opinions. Nadler stated that the Justice Department's "own longstanding policy" is that "executive privilege ... should not be invoked to conceal evidence of wrongdoing or criminality on the part of executive officers," which is pertinent because the committee specifically would like to ask McGahn about CRIMES DONALD TRUMP ASKED HIM TO COMMIT.
Nadler reminded McGahn that Trump has been mean-tweeting and calling McGahn's testimony to Mueller into question, and that, as the Mueller Report laid out, Trump literally wanted McGahn to lie in public and deny press reports that Trump had asked McGahn to get Mueller fired. Executive privilege who what now?
Oh yeah, and Nadler reminded McGahn that actually neither the OLC memo nor Pat Cipollone's whine-ass letter said Trump had actually officially asserted executive privilege over McGahn's testimony, "nor could he." It concludes by saying Nadler is ready to use "all enforcement mechanisms" available to the committee to get McGahn's lily-white ass in that testifying chair, where it goddamn belongs. LOVE, JERRY.
So why is McGahn doing this, even as Trump is caterwauling on Twitter about how he is a big liar and like such as? Why would McGahn be putting his ass on the line, opening himself up to contempt proceedings from Congress, possibly being fined $25,000 every day he refuses to testify, as House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff has suggested he might do with witnesses bucking his own committee, OR MAYBE EVEN BEING LOCK HER UP-PED? Well! We can't imagine it has anything to do with how McGahn has gone back to work at Jones Day, the law firm that represented the Trump campaign in 2016, which works for the RNC now, and which Trump could totally mean-tweet about, in essence threatening the witness by threatening the witness's employer:
If McGahn were to defy Trump and testify before Congress, it could endanger his own career in Republican politics and put his law firm, Jones Day, in the president's crosshairs. Trump has mused about instructing Republicans to cease dealing with the firm, which is deeply intertwined in Washington with the GOP, according to one White House official and a Republican close to the White House not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.
It's a reasonable fear, considering how Trump has already minimized Jones Day's role in his 2020 campaign, in a move pretty much every sane person alive understood Trump made because he was GRRRRR MAD at McGahn.
As far as those wondering why Dems didn't push for a contempt vote today, it's worth noting a Twitter thread on impeachment that we encourage you all to read, about why the process of this is so important. Essentially, with impeachment, and we also think with this, it's important for Dems, when they ultimately go to court, to be able to tell the judge they did everything they could do to be accommodating, gave the witness (or the obstructing president) every opportunity to comply, but that at the end of the day, they simply had no choice but to take drastic measures. It makes a lot of sense.
It's also worth noting that Nadler reportedly told Nancy Pelosi on a phone call last night that he's ready for Dems to start an impeachment inquiry, so it doesn't seem like he's resting on his laurels.
So what's next for McGahn? Fines? More stern talkings-to? A court fight? LOCK-HER-UP-PAGE? Guess we'll find out.
Don't lose your fucking backbone now, Jerry!
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