Trump Has Always Depended On The Kindness Of Staffers
Did you enjoy the first half of the concert? Was the Russian Interference Symphony all you hoped it would be? Frankly, it left us a bit unsatisfied. Robert Mueller is a hell of a soloist, but it was just such a careful performance -- you really felt like he was missing boldness, passion, sturm und drang! Well, now that we've gorged on box rosé and eight-dollar M-n-M's in the lobby, the lights are dimming and it's time for the second half. Forgive the tinniness, but concertmaster Mulvaney has insisted the orchestra tune to A450 "for the troops." And now, on with the Obstruction Variations, by Donald Trump.
And by "all the subpoenas," he means every single request for information or testimony from Democrats in the House.
This week alone, the Trump administration refused to allow testimony from security clearance ratfucker Carl Kline, racist psychopath Stephen Miller, and DOJ lawyer John Gore, who could shed light on the reason the citizenship question was added to the US census. (Hint: It sure as shit wasn't to ensure compliance with the VRA.) The White House also instructed Don McGahn to ignore a Judiciary Committee subpoena, saying that Trump intends to assert executive privilege over McGahn's testimony, despite the fact that the information already appeared in the Mueller report.
Steven Mnuchin has refused to hand over Trump's tax returns to the Ways and Means Committee, despite the clear language of the law. Trump has also sued his own accountants and the House Oversight Committee in a facially ridiculous suit to stop Elijah Cummings from seeing his financial documents. Telling an entire co-equal branch of government, on whom you rely to fund the executive branch, to eat shit is a bizarre strategy. But clearly, that's how this shit is going down, as Chairman Cummings noted:
Based on these actions, it appears that the President believes that the Constitution does not apply to his White House, that he may order officials at will to violate their legal obligations, and that he may obstruct attempts by Congress to conduct oversight. It also appears that the White House believes it may dictate to Congress — an independent and co-equal branch of government — the scope of its investigations and even the rules by which it conducts them. To date, the White House has refused to produce a single piece of paper or a single witness in any of the Committee's investigations this entire year.
As of now, Chairman Cummings has already scheduled a contempt vote for Clearance Concierge Kline. In days of old, that might mean getting locked in the basement of the House building. But now it falls to the US Attorney for DC to prosecute the scofflaws, and Bill Barr is clearly too busy obstructing justice his own self to enforce the law. Which means that House lawyers will have to sue to enforce subpoenas. The bad news is that this takes for-freaking-ever, and could well drag on past the 2020 election. The good news is, the pain for these contemptible contemners starts now, since they have to fork over all their cash for lawyers to represent them. Remind us to feel real bad about all the Trumplanders liquidating their IRAs because they insist on carrying water for the Trump administration ... NEVER.
So House Democrats are brainstorming some new ideas. Bloomberg says that Chairman Nadler favors a return to detaining those who refuse to testify, or at the very least fining the shit out of them. And the Washington Post quotes California Rep. Jared Huffman suggesting that Congress impeach IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.
"The idea that the IRS commissioner would instead follow the direction of Donald Trump's legal team instead of statutory directive just can't stand," Huffman said in an interview Wednesday. Impeachment of the heads of departments and agencies, he said, "is the constitutional backstop when executive branch officials refuse to follow the law. . . . It has to be in the conversation at some point if they continue to act like arms of the Trump legal team."
Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi pushed through a rule change that makes it easier to fast track lawsuits for contempt of Congress.
Anticipating potential showdowns with Trump, Pelosi backed an obscure rule change at the start of the Congress that would enable the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group — a three-member panel of Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — to approve taking a civil contempt charge to court, according to a congressional aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.
Traditionally, the House votes on a resolution holding someone in contempt before the counsel takes the matter to court. But leadership realized they could have multiple instances of contempt, and sought a way to streamline the process. Under the new rule, only two members of the advisory group would have to approve such court action.
So sorry for your bad luck, Kevin! Looks like you're outvoted.
Meanwhile, House investigators are finding other ways over the bullshit barricade. Deutsche Bank has started complying with Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters's request for Trump documents. And New York State Attorney General Letitia James is hoovering up documents from DB as well. CNN reports:
The bank is in the process of turning over documents, including emails and loan documents, related to Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC; the Trump National Doral Miami; the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago; and the unsuccessful effort to buy the NFL's Buffalo Bills.
And speaking of New York, state tax authorities there already have Trump's personal, business, and trust state returns, and likely his federal ones as well. Probably shoulda domiciled himself in a red state if he wanted the local authorities to run defense for him against the congressional record requests! Boy, it would be a damn shame if Commissioner Rettig found himself in contempt of Congress and Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal got Trump's tax documents from New York anyway, huh?
Because Trump may succeed in warping the apparatus of the federal government to hide the evidence of his corruption -- and no one loses their shit like this over NO CORRUPTION. And he might succeed in slowing down the process by filing a bunch of nonsense lawsuits. He might even convince former employees like Don McGahn to refuse to testify while Trump's claim of executive privilege is litigated. But he isn't going to bully all of them into silence, particularly once those legal bills start piling up. He isn't going to persuade the corporations to buck congressional subpoenas forever. And he sure as hell isn't going to be able to stop New York regulators from putting the squeeze on every bank, accountant, and insurance company that ever did business with him, since every major financial institution in America has an office in New York. You can't block 'em all.
SUBPOENAS ARE COMING.
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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.