Fired White House Staffers Delighted To Go Bankrupt/To Jail To Protect President, You Bet!
Time to send Bezos out for an econo-box of antacids, because we're clearly heading into two years of trench warfare. Hooray! After two years of Gowdy, Goodlatte, and the rest of the House GOP allowing them to refuse to answer questions JUST CUZ, the Trump administration is finally facing real oversight from a Democratic House. Consistent with the Rule of Laws Pat Cipollone Just Pulled Out of His Ass in a Desperate Effort to Run Out the Clock, Team Trump is now stonewalling all document requests and instructing witnesses to ignore subpoenas and risk contempt of Congress charges.
"I don't want people testifying to a party, because that is what they're doing if they do this," Trump told Bob Costa at the Washington Post. "I allowed my lawyers and all the people to go and testify to Mueller — and you know how I feel about that whole group of people that did the Mueller report ... I was so transparent; they testified for so many hours. They have all of that information that's been given." Then this morning on the White House lawn Trump confirmed that "we're fighting all the subpoenas" citing the very cool, very legal argument of "the Democrats are trying to win 2020."
If we might translate the president's sophisticated legalese, that means DON'T WANNA YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!!!!
Yesterday, just hours after Carl Kline, Jared Kushner's security clearance concierge, defied a summons from the Oversight Committee, the Post reported that the administration has decided to invoke executive privilege to stop former White House Counsel Don McGahn from testifying in response to a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee. Executive privilege is an IRL legal doctrine with an articulable standard -- as opposed to vague allusions to "privacy" which they used to fob off Democratic inquiries when the GOP held the House -- and the White House has shied away from invoking it thus far. But, here we are, really discussing Steve Bannon's stupid fucking Hot Tub Time Machine Executive Privilege Defense like it's actually a real thing.
OH, FINE. One time in an absinthe torpor, Steve Bannon saw a goblin that said, "Special Counsel is part of executive branch. So nothing Trump minions say to him has left the executive branch. You have only to shout, 'By the power of Grayskull, I have the executive power!' and all your foolish words will come back home to you." And then the demon vanished in a puff of foul, green smoke. Allegedly! Anyway, these assholes really think they can magically claw back witness testimony about stuff in the Mueller report by invoking executive privilege now.
There's only one problem with that theory, of course. And it is that the White House already didn't invoke executive privilege over the substance of that testimony when Bill Barr okayed it for publication. Even if Bannon's goblin was right, the time for the He-Man and She-Ra cosplay was before Evan spent three longass days liveblogging all 448 pages of the Mueller report. You can't make something secret after everyone in the country already read it. As Richard Nixon's chief of staff H.R. Haldeman famously said of the Watergate testimony, "Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it's going to be very hard to get it back in." And, by the by, that guy went to jail for 18 months.
Actually, there's another problem. And it is that Donald Trump is a vindictive dick. If he wanted Don McGahn to stick his neck out for him, President Arty McDeals probably shouldn't have spent the weekend firing his law firm and shit-tweeting about his former employee. Marcy Wheeler has an interesting theory that McGahn wants to testify against Trump:
I suspect this is a friendly subpoena — a subpoena giving the witness an excuse for testifying. I say that not just because McGahn is a self-promoter who likes to pretend he's the hero of saving Trump from prison, but also because McGahn got noticeably more chatty with Mueller's office as Trump grew more unmanageable and the risk to McGahn's future increased. Indeed, because he leaked his heroic role to the press, he ended up getting called in for further interviews.
Guess we'll find out soon, won't we! But we already know that Don McGahn, and Reince Priebus, and John Kelly, and Rex Tillerson, and Kirstjen Nielsen, and Rob Porter, and Hope Hicks, and Corey Lewandowski, and everyone else who got more or less unceremoniously kicked to curb, are out there on their own. No one is paying their astronomical legal bills, no one is going to jail with them if they are convicted of contempt of Congress, and no one will be there to save their professional reputations if shit goes totally south and Trump throws them under the bus. Again.
Which probably accounts for Grandpa Dementia's extreme batshittery these past couple of days since the House started raining down subpoenas in response to the Mueller Report. Or maybe it's syphilis. Anyway, we're going to have a nice lunch of antacids, and we suggest all those potential congressional witnesses do the same. Because if Donald Trump loses in 2020, the new Justice Department might take a dim view of people who obstructed Congress. Just sayin'.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.