Don McGahn, You Are TELL IT TO THE JUDGE!
After Robert Mueller's public testimony, House Democratic leaders signaled that they were moving forward to get all the information they needed to decide on whether to proceed with articles of impeachment. A day after that, they kinda gave up the game and admitted the House Judiciary Committee is already conducting an impeachment inquiry, mentioning the word "impeachment" in a court filing demanding the 6(e) grand jury information from the Mueller Report no fewer than 7,000-eleventy times. Has this train left the station? Choo choo, motherfuckers!
One of the important next steps House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler said the committee would take was to go to court to sue to enforce the subpoena issued for former White House counsel Don McGahn, which the White House has been blocking. That has now happened, and we have the lawsuit. Before we get to that, though, let's skip right to the response from McGahn's lawyer Bill Burck, because LOL WTF SHUT UP CLOWN NUTS.
In a statement ahead of the filing, McGahn's lawyer William A. Burck said his client "does not believe he witnessed any violation of law" by the president, adding that McGahn "has an ethical obligation to protect client confidences."
"[T]he president instructed Don to cooperate fully with the special counsel but directed him not to testify to Congress unless the White House and the committee reached an accommodation," Burck said. "When faced with competing demands from co-equal branches of government, Don will follow his former client's instruction, absent a contrary decision from the federal judiciary."
How many bullshits do we count in that statement? TWO BULLSHITS!
Bullshit 1: McGahn "does not believe he witnessed any violation of law." That's not what he told Robert Mueller! Unless the "crazy shit" Trump tried to get him to do -- like ordering McGahn to have Robert Mueller fired, in order to obstruct justice, and then ordering McGahn to create a false record suggesting Trump never ordered him to have Mueller fired, in order to obstruct justice -- just simply don't count as "crimes" in the Very Good Lawyer Brain of Don McGahn. You betcha!
Bullshit 2: All this yapping about "his client" and "client confidences," McGahn just wants to follow his former client's obstruction, we mean instruction, BLAH BLAH BLAH! As Rachel Maddow mused last night, is McGahn not aware that he was the White House counsel, and not the president's personal lawyer? Because the White House counsel doesn't have the sort of "his client" status with the president as Trump's personal lawyers do, as "his client" was the office of the presidency itself. Remember how well that worked out for Richard Nixon vis-à-vis John Dean? It certainly doesn't fly with impeachment inquiries or proceedings.
Of course, the statement kind of gives up the game at the end, where it says that "absent a contrary decision from the federal judiciary" McGahn will comply with the obstructions, we mean instructions, from his former boss. So go ahead, judge! MAKE CONTRARY DECISIONS FROM THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY NON-ABSENT AGAIN!
So, the lawsuit itself! If you wanna read it, it's here.
It says IN-PEACH a lot. Like here:
McGahn is the Judiciary Committee's most important fact witness in its consideration of whether to recommend articles of impeachment and its related investigation of misconduct by the president, including acts of obstruction of justice described in the special counsel's report."
Each day that McGahn refuses to testify, the Judiciary Committee is deprived of its ability to carry out the significant Article I task of determining whether to recommend that the president be impeached and potentially removed from office.
Article I of the Constitution provides that "[t]he House of Representatives … shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."13 Article I also vests Congress with "[a]ll legislative Powers."14 Congress's powers include the authority to investigate matters relating to subjects within its broad legislative purview; conduct oversight of Executive Branch agencies; examine whether those agencies are faithfully, effectively, and efficiently executing the laws; and determine whether changes to federal law are necessary and proper. The Supreme Court has long recognized that the Constitution vests the House with the power of inquiry—with process to enforce it—commensurate with the House's Article I legislative authority to investigate any subject on which "legislation could be had."
And many, many more!
The lawsuit is broadly focused on some of the Trump White House's thinnest horseshit of all, namely that anybody who ever took a shit in the White House during the reign of King Yap-Mouth The Tiny-Handed has "absolute immunity" from testifying. That's the horseshit kissing cousin of Trump's lawyers' other very legal and very cool argument, which is that Congress is not Trump's real dad. That argument also has a starring role to play here!
It notes the Office Of Legal Counsel (OLC) memo that says you can't indict a sitting president, quotes Robert Mueller's statement that "the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing," and raises its hand and says "HI, WE ARE THE PROCESS HE WAS TALKING ABOUT! IN-PEACH!" (That is not a direct quotation from the lawsuit.)
Re: absolute immunity and executive privilege and LOL WTF SHUT UP CLOWN NUTS:
The President's claim that McGahn is entitled to "absolute immunity" has no basis in law, and no court has ever accepted this type of blanket claim in response to a Congressional subpoena. McGahn thus must appear before the Judiciary Committee and answer all of its Members' questions unless a valid basis for asserting executive privilege exists as to any specific matter. To date, the President has not formally attempted to invoke executive privilege. Moreover, by authorizing the public release of the Report and extensively commenting about its substance after its release, among other statements and actions, the President has waived any privilege about matters and information discussed in the Report. When the Report was released publicly, Attorney General William Barr confirmed that the President "would not assert privilege over the Special Counsel's report" and, therefore, the Report contained "no material … redacted based on executive privilege."11 And DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has acknowledged that the Attorney General's release "of a redacted version of the Special Counsel's report (with the President's consent) extinguish[ed] the Executive Branch's confidentiality interests in the precise information" revealed in the Report.
We've said a lot of times that part of why this was taking so long is that Jerry Nadler wanted to dot every "i" and cross every "t," in order to make a record for the judge that Congress tried as hard as it possibly could to handle this on its own. That's what the Mueller testimony was. That's what the Hope Hicks testimony, where she was directed to say "NUH UH!" in response to most questions, was. This lawsuit to compel McGahn's testimony states that they have done literally everything they possibly could, and details their efforts, but says they were "all to no avail." They declare, Your Honor, that they are now at an "impasse" with Mr. McGahn.
And by the very fact that they are now in court, we can conclude that the committee now feels it has the strongest case possible to get what it wants. Yes, it's aggravating and tries our patience, but this shit takes time.
A Democratic lawyer for the Judiciary Committee told Politico they're pretty sure McGahn "has the goods" and has "more to share" about Trump, beyond what is in the four corners of Robert Mueller's book report on Russian active measures against the United States and the presidents who love it, especially later in the summer. Wonkette has reason to agree with that assessment, and our reasons are 1) LOL WTF SHUT UP CLOWN NUTS and 2) the Trump White House probably wouldn't be working so hard to silence McGahn if they weren't scared of what he might be forced to say under oath.
And to be clear, Don McGahn is the ball game, not just because of everything he's witnessed, but because he opens the floodgates for real testimony from Hope Hicks, from McGahn's former deputy Annie Donaldson, and from every other person who's ever smelled the president's farts within the dutch oven confines of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Politico reports that on top of this lawsuit, the committee also filed a notice with the court on Wednesday that this case is linked to its earlier case to get the 6(e) grand jury information, which means that, at least for now, it will go before the same judge, Beryl Howell. You've met her before. She's also the judge on the mystery secret company-owned-by-a-country case that came out of Robert Mueller's office, which we assume is still "continuing robustly." So we'll see what she does!
Howell has put all this on the calendar she keeps in her Trapper Keeper for September, which means some shit's going down after Labor Day. Wheeeee!
Now, you may have an OPEN THREAD. Wheeeeee!
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