Trump Administration

McConnell and Chafetz on Trump's Resistance to Congressional Oversight

Two notable scholars debate whether there is anything particularly troubling with the way the Trump Administration is refusing to cooperate with Congressional investigations.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Stanford law professor (and former federal judge) Michael McConnell had a Washington Post op-ed this week suggesting that many critics are over-reacting to the Trump Administration's refusal to cooperate with Congressional investigations. It begins:

Never before have so many congressional committees issued so many subpoenas demanding documents and testimony from so many executive-branch officials, with so little attempt at negotiation or accommodation. President Trump says he will invoke executive privilege on "all" of them. Attorney General William P. Barr balks at appearing before a House committee to discuss the Mueller report without changes in the format. Democrats threaten impeachment, and solemn commentators proclaim that Trump's refusal to comply subverts America's constitutional system of checks and balances.

How quickly Washington forgets — when it is convenient. Trump is not the first president to resist congressional investigation of the inner workings of his administration, and Barr is not the first Cabinet officer to negotiate the terms of his appearance before a committee. In fact, the responses are unremarkable.

As Professor McConnell notes, prior administrations have often been quite uncooperative with legislative oversight committees, going all the way back to the Washington Administration. Moreover, the refusal to cooperate has sometimes provoked a stern response, as when the House voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate adequately with the "Fast and Furious" probe (and Holder's not the only one, as this CRS report discusses).

Professor McConnell concludes:

What does this history tell us? That disputes over congressional demands for documents and testimony are as old as the republic. Congresses demand; presidents resist. Generally, after a political tussle the two sides meet somewhere in the middle. As a leading scholar of the subject, Cornell law professor Josh Chafetz, has written, "most disputes between the executive and legislative branches over information have historically been settled by negotiation and accommodation."

This process cannot take place if one side assumes that it has unilateral authority to demand whatever it wishes and that any delay or resistance from the other branch is categorically illegitimate. Trump should abandon his attempt to defy "all subpoenas," but the House should recognize that the executive is an equal branch of government with constitutional privileges of its own. For a president to assert the rights of his office, as almost every president has done, is neither blameworthy nor impeachable.

Professor Chafetz, for his part, has a different take, as he noted in this Twitter thread. In Professor Chafetz's view, the difference between the Trump Administration's behavior and that of prior administrations is that, in the past, resistance to congressional oversight has usually focused on specific requests for specific information about specific matters, such as the Bush Administration's decision to fire multiple U.S. Attorneys or the Obama Administration's handling of the"Fast & Furious" scandal. Here, however, the Trump Administration appears to be resisting oversight across the board. This, according to Professor Chafetz is "different not just in degree but in kind."

It's not a claim that Congress doesn't deserve access to some particular information; it's a claim that Congress doesn't deserve access to any information."

That, in turn, amounts to a claim that Congress has no legitimate oversight role. And that claim is radically different from the claim that some specific piece of information is privileged.

And here's the kicker from Professor Chafetz:

To my mind, denying that Congress has any role whatsoever in overseeing the executive ought to be understood as an impeachable offense.

Indeed, it is the prospect of potential impeachment proceedings, in part, which induces executive officials to cooperate with congressional investigations in the first place. As a general matter, the White House doesn't turn over documents just to be nice, but because there is an implicit threat of potential escalation and sanction -- ultimately impeachment itself -- if legislative investigation is unduly obstructed.

Although Professor McConnell is not on Twitter, he did send a response to Professor Chafetz, which I am posting with Professor McConnell's permission.

1.       I agree with you that Trump's statement that he would defy "all subpoena" is overbroad, which is why the conclusory paragraph of my op-ed stated that "Trump should abandon his attempt to defy 'all subpoenas.'" (I do not agree with you that overbroad claims, unaccompanied by action, are impeachable offenses.)

2.       Mr. Trump has the self-destructive tendency to deliver blunderbuss declarations, which are quickly abandoned or modified. That is the way I interpret his "no subpoenas" tweet.

3.       Already, two Trump administration officials (Barr and Kline) have testified in response to congressional demands, and Barr has agreed to testify in the House if the House committee will employ the ordinary procedures used for cabinet officials. "Apparently, "defy all subpoenas" means "comply with some of them."

4.       The Supreme Court has held that the content of communications between the President and his aides is "presumptively privileged" on the sensible ground that Presidents need to be able to talk candidly before decided on acts. Trump waived that privilege for Mueller, but he has no obligation to do so with every House committee that asks.

5.       President Obama invoked executive privilege in the Fast & Furious investigation on the ground that any testimony regarding internal deliberations (even by low-level officials in a Department) would "inhibit the candor" of executive-branch deliberations and that "compelled disclosure would be inconsistent with the separation of powers established in the Constitution."

6.       I have not seen all the House committee demands for information, but quite a few of them seem to intrude on the deliberative process privilege, or others.

7.       Ordinary congressional oversight involves the administration of congressionally-authorized offices and authorities. (Fast and Furious is a clear example.) Many of the current investigations have to do with President Trump's exercise of his own constitutionally-vested powers. These raise delicate unresolved questions of separation of powers.

8.       In the past, congressional committees have proceeded in a less precipitous fashion: asking for testimony first, narrowing their demands in response to legitimate executive branch concerns, and issuing subpoenas and threatening contempt only when discussions break down.

9.       Let us see how this plays out in the context of actual congressional demands and actual executive responses. There is too much hair-trigger talk of defiance on one side and contempt, sanctions, and impeachment on the other--and too little of the "negotiation and accommodation" your excellent scholarship has identified as characteristic of the past.

NEXT: Mini Review: Arrested Development

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  1. This is just like with the Supreme Court – the GOP condoning or even endorsing an extreme and blanket policy because in particular cases Democrats did something similar.

    If the DoJ says only Congress can investigate the President, and then the President prevents Congress investigating him, then the President is effectively above the law if this is allowed to occur.

    1. “Democrats did something similar”

      Yes, Mr. Norm, once a precedent is established and a prior norm violated, then the other side will seek to use or even extend the precedent.

      What lesson do you take?

      1. Mistaking forests for trees to own the libs.

        1. Sure. When my side does it, it’s just a tree in a forest of otherwise good conduct. When the other side does it, it’s indicative of all the other stuff that’s evil about he other side.

          1. Bob, I get – he’s a political nihilist who thinks Dems are so bad any means is justified.

            But TiP, you can see the difference between a blanket ban and case-by-case refusals; I know you are not so obtuse.

            It’s the difference between a forest and a tree.

            1. Can you see the difference between a warrant to search the forest vs a warrant to search a specific tree?

              1. If you want Congress to seek a warrant, take it up with the Founders.

                1. Originalism for the win? I suppose it had to occur one of these days.

            2. A blanket ban that isnt a blanket as stated with examples in the article sarcastro. Stop being stupid.

        2. No lesson. Sad.

          Doomed to repeat it I guess.

          1. Yeah, your lesson is a political nihilism that will destroy the Republic.

            I’m thankful you haven’t joined the ‘We need a Republican Pinochet’ crowd, but your political philosophy has never had integrity; you justify all political actions in service of your side as worth it.

            1. “you justify all political actions in service of your side as worth it”

              Bah, you just justified the Dems’ actions as not as bad as the GOP’s very similar ones. You don’t see that your side cannot do stuff without a reaction and yes, extension.

              So get the beam from your own eye.

              1. A forest is not very similar to a tree.

                On this very thread you’ve made it clear you don’t care about legitimacy; only that political might makes right.

                1. Pen and phone dummy. I’ve never seen you even call put judicial activism for example the 9th saying trump cant rewrite an Obama EO On DACA. Dishonesty is your strong suit.

    2. First off, Congress is an elected body, and if they can’t get the votes to investigate, well, elections have consequences, or so I have been told. This is not a matter of Trump forbidding Congress from investigating him. This is not the first time a President has resisted Congressional snooping.

      Second, I got the strong impression that the latest Dem snooping attempt was just that — snooping, with no clear goal in mind. Some kind of general warrant, as it was called in the Declaration of Independence. A fishing expedition. No probable cause, so to speak. No trail of evidence. Just “we don’t like him and want to go look because Trump” and their feelz got hurt by the GOP calling for them to put their votes where their campaign speeches were on the New Green Deal.

      This is no crisis. It’s just politics as usual, with the only remarkable aspect being how much the Dems have deranged themselves over a bungled election.

      1. Read to OP, Trump isn’t resisting some stuff and not others; he’s stonewalling Congress. That is a constitutional crisis.

        The President doesn’t get to decide that an investigation if him is actually a fishing expedition, for obvious reasons.

        1. Constitutional crisis my ass. Every President has stonewalled Congress as much as they can get away with.

          Good grief. What a puny molehill to die on.

          1. Armor yourself in as much contempt as you can muster, but saying no to an individual subpoenas and inquiries is fundamentally different than saying no to all subpoenas or inquiries. And ordering all your subordinates and even associates to say no.

            1. Such drama!
              Impeach or STFU

              1. Single reactor ignition. You may fire when ready.

            2. Individual general warrants are still general warrants.

              1. Until Trump claims the Fourth Amendment, Congress doesn’t work like that.

          2. “Every President has stonewalled Congress as much as they can get away with.”

            That explains (all of) the Benghazi hearings.

        2. Let’s apply your quote across the board:

          The President doesn’t get to decide that an investigation if him is actually a fishing expedition, for obvious reasons.

          Left out the other half, didn’t you?

          Congress doesn’t get to decide that an investigation if the President is actually a fishing expedition, for obvious reasons.

          1. Those are not parallel.

            A President has an inherent conflict of interest in investigations of himself.

            Congress does not have an inherent conflict of interest in investigations they run.

            1. “Congress does not have an inherent conflict of interest ”
              The present House majority campaigned on being proud to have just such a conflict.

              1. You don’t know what inherent means.

              2. By your logic, all police are conflicted out of their jobs.

                1. By your logic, all police are conflicted out of their jobs.

                  I guess you’ve never heard of internal police investigations, then.

            2. It’s not an investigation. It’s a fishing expedition for political theater.

              We had an investigation. It’s over. There’ s a full report. Charges weren’t recommended.

        3. “Read to OP, Trump isn’t resisting some stuff and not others; he’s stonewalling Congress. That is a constitutional crisis.”

          I could swear a saw Barr testifying to the Senate just yesterday. He delivered the Muller report to Congress when he had no obligation to do so, etc.

          You guys are just so steamed over the exoneration that you are inventing constitutional crises now.

          1. Exoneration, my ass, TIP.

            Don’t throw away your credibility with nonsense like that.

            1. You wouldnt know what credibility meant if you were handed a dictionary.

        4. “he’s stonewalling Congress. That is a constitutional crisis.”

          That’s bullshit, Sarcastr0, and you should know it. He’s not stonewalling, ‘though it may appear that way because of the enormous volume of ridiculous and over-broad requests congress has made.

          As far as “constitutional crisis” is concerned. If you look up ‘hyperbole’ in the dictionary now you will se the symbol of the Democratic Part, or perhaps Liz Warren’s or Nancy Pelosi’s or Jerry Nadler’s picture. They resort to call for impeachment, they call for people to resign, they call for people to be prosecuted at the drop of a hat! how can anyone take them seriously? Or you? Do you really, really think we are experiencing a constitutional crisis? If you do, you are deranged.

          They have subpoenaed his personal financial records;
          they have subpoenaed his tax returns;
          hey have subpoenaed the full, unredacted Meuller report, which Barr would be VIOLATING THE LAW to comply with.

          I get the impression that the Dem reps don’t even order coffee and a doughnut any more, they subpoena it!

          And yesterday, with the fried chicken – what a bunch of clowns!

          Trump saying he will resist all subpoenas is just an old New York “fuck you all!”

          1. Your accusations of bad faith don’t change Congress’s powers, nor the executive’s denial of them.

            You do not understand that Congress can ask for private info and view it privately; no laws are violated in that case.

            1. Could you show some citation for Congress’s authority to do all that? Even they need to follow some laws.

              1. The House does have authority under a law passed in the 1930s to view personal tax data. The theory behind that, is that because all bills for revenue must start there, they needed it to do oversight. Sorry I can’t cite the specifics…I heard it in passing on NPR of all places.

                That said, it was not in the past used to go on fishing expeditions against a sitting president, and it’s constitutionality has never been tested by the Courts (if you believe in judicial supremacy).

                1. How long since a president (or presidential candidate) concealed his tax returns, or since low-quality Americans were willing to vote for a candidate who concealed (after promising to provide) tax returns?

                  1. How long since someone who was not a career politician became president?

                    1. How is that relevant to concealing tax returns? Trump is also the first president with grotesque hair within memory, and the first president to have relied on inheritance and a television career for his money, but those points are irrelevant to the issue of violating a pledge to provide — in line with longstanding practice — tax returns.

                  2. Why does a president need to release them?

                2. Can Congress request to review tax returns under 26 U.S. Code Sec. 6103(f) where the return belongs to a member of another branch of government and where the request is possibly based on a nonofficial motive (one not related to fair administration of the tax laws). If the President’s returns were presented to Congress via 6103(f), information from those returns would probably be selectively disclosed on the floor of the House in quick order.

                  1. nonofficial motive

                    I don’t think this is a thing.

                    1. Watkins v. U.S.

            2. You may want to think about that a little bit. Does Congress really have inherent authority to coerce any private information from any party? Do you really trust Congress with this kind of power?

              1. Congress has the authority for oversight of the Executive, not just anyone.

                What made you use the word coerce?

                1. “not just anyone”

                  Then why are they seeking Trump family records, not just Trump’s?

                  1. Trump’s made his family advisers in his Admin.

                    Also they run his business, which is closely tied to him.

                    Also family is fundamentally germane to the person. Witness whatever Trump is trying to drum up about Biden’s family.

                    1. The two sons who run the business are not members of the administration.

                      You are excusing harassment of family members who are not government officials. I can’t see how that will bite your side in the but later.

                      Seems like not involving family members who are not part of government was a norm that had value but what do I know, I just want to win, unlike you and your side.

                    2. Anyone who thinks investigating the Trump family cannot really be related to investigating Trump is not thinking straight.

                      You can see how Trump has been having his personal attorney do foreign trips trying to gin up scandal about Bidens’ family, do ya? Biden’s family isn’t off limits, but deploying emissaries to get other countries to open up embarrassing investigations sure is.

                      Hillary Clinton was just Bill’s wife, what about all the harassment of her in the 1990s?

                    3. “made his family advisers ”

                      Not the two sons. Informal advice is not the same as being an actual assistant like Ivana. Should Jill Biden’s records be subpoened by the Senate?

                      Biden’s kids should be off limits. But what you are saying Trump is already extending the precedent.

                      Hillary became a combatant when they put her in charge of the failed health care experiment. Plus, didn’t they campaign as “two for one”?

              2. That is the essential question. What are the limits on Congress’ ability to subpoena information?

            3. “Congress can ask for private info and view it privately;”
              And that there is NO penalty if the majority leadership decides that it is politically expedient to make the information public.

              There is no crisis. There are legitimate avenues of recourse all withing the confines of the Constitution.

              1. What are the legitimate avenues of recourse for Congress if Trump tells all of his people to not listen to their requests and subpoenas?

                Where are you getting there’s no penalty for Congress doing an unauthorized disclosure? But regardless, ThePublius’s ‘Bar would be VIOLATING THE LAW’ to give it to Congress is BS.

                1. It’s not B.S. It is against the law to disclose grand jury information. There is grand jury information in the report.

                2. It’s referred to as “6e material” for Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 6, “The Grand Jury,” section (e).

                  https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcrmp/rule_6

                  How’s that bullshit for you?

                  1. Disclose != disclose to Congress, as discussed above. See also classified materials and materials with personally identifying information.

                    1. Oh, contraire! Read this:

                      “In disclosing the Mueller report, Attorney General William P. Barr will have to redact grand-jury information. That is the upshot of the ruling today by a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.”

                      https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/04/mueller-report-attorney-general-grand-jury-information/

            4. Okay, okay. Big flame war going on here. Let the leadership of the House go to court, state their case, and hope to get a court order to turn over the requested documents. And have Trump — of course — state his case against the subpoenas. Trump hasn’t stiffed a court decision yet. Which would be an impeachable offense, I believe.

        5. Read the fucking article sarcastro, his bluster is different than his actions. Barr was in Congress this week. How dumb are you?

    3. Yeah, this is what I don’t understand about McConnell’s response. A tu quoque citing another example of executive intransigency that resulted in a notable rebuke of a Cabinet official means… Trump’s actions are no big deal?

      1. What don’t you understand? McConnell is grasping at weak straws to defend his man. It’s just like Barr claiming it was OK for Trump to try to kill the investigation because he was angry and frustrated.

        There’s nothing these guys won’t say.

        1. Relax, bernard11. The continuing improvement of the American electorate indicates we won’t need to worry about Republicans in national elections much longer. Soon enough, not even gerrymandering, voter suppression, census manipulation, or the structural amplification of rural voices (in the Senate and Electoral Coalition) will be enough to maintain a Republican-conservative electoral coalition for backwardness, intolerance, and superstition.

    4. Yep, precisely. But hey, don’t expect the bootlickers here to actually want to uphold law and order. Nope- just sit back and watch them comment about how it’s all ok. They’ll be hopping mad when a Dem does it next but hey, that’s ok for now.

    5. There are standards for and limits on the power of Congress to investigate anyone, including the President. See Watkins v. United States, Supreme Court, 1957.

      “The power of the Congress to conduct investigations is inherent in the legislative process. That power is broad. . . . But, broad as is this power of inquiry, it is not unlimited. There is no general authority to expose the private affairs of individuals without justification in terms of the functions of the Congress. . . . . Nor is the Congress a law enforcement or trial agency. These are functions of the executive and judicial departments of government. No inquiry is an end in itself; it must be related to, and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of the Congress. Investigations conducted solely for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to “punish” those investigated are indefensible.”

  2. Don’t forget, the unprecedented and, frankly, illegitimate abuse of lawfare that the dems are launching against our HEROIC AND NOBLE PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP. He is entitled to refuse to cooperate with their soft coup attempt.

    1. Poe’s law in action Chem. Be more subtle.

      1. Not Poe’s Law; this is my actual position.

  3. The fundamental difference is more around past Congressional inquiries being focused on a specific act or concern.

    In this case, Congress is attempting to issue blanket subpoenas in a fishing expedition to find something, rather than knowing what they are investigating.

    In such a case, the President is correct to object to all efforts, until such time as Congress acts in good faith themselves.

    1. Exactly.

      They are even trying to get family banking records. Its harassment.

      1. I applaud your aggressive, reflexive support of Pres. Trump, Bob from Ohio, because I believe it is going to expedite the diminution of political positions you prefer.

    2. Bingo. In this case, they start out with the conclusion that Trump must be guilty of SOMETHING, and are just issuing blanket demands for information to search through for that something.

      But my understanding is that the Democrats are actually refusing to look at a less redacted version of the Mueller report, that has already been made available to them.

      It’s not even legal for the DOJ to turn over a fully unredacted version of the report, as divulging grand jury testimony is illegal.

      1. They demand a fully unredacted report for theatrical purposes for the benefit of their base, knowing parts the report must be redacted.

        Did the DoJ ever release a fully unredacted version of the DoJ Office of Inspector General Review of Operation Fast & Furious? I recall one less redacted version released after a few court cases had been settled, but it still had blackouts.

        1. Given the record of Barr’s handling of information thus far, why would anyone provide benefit of doubt to Barr and rely on his summaries, characterizations, and assertions?

          By “thus far,” I include the 30-year-old episode involving Barr’s misleading but politically convenient summary of an official report.

          1. The summary that Mueller, the author, said was accurate?

            1. How do you know Mueller described Barr’s summary as accurate . . . because Barr said it?

              1. Truly astoundingly stupid. Who gives a shit what Mueller may whine about now. The public can view the report and Congress can view a virtually unredacted version. It’s obvious that the summary was accurate as to the findings of the report.

                1. “It’s obvious that the summary was accurate as to the findings of the report.”

                  Backwater religious schooling and polemical partisanship have consequences. Not attractive ones.

                  1. Probably a waste of time asking but, what the hell. Tell me then, how was the summary in any way inaccurate.

  4. Yup. The dems would have alot more credibility if they acted like a good faith opposition party instead of the #Resistance!!!

    1. How is credibility relevant? This is a fundamental structure of our government issue.

      1. I got the impression that many were rather unimpressed by the finding of contempt against Holder because they didn’t find the Republicans very credible, no?

        1. That was different 12.

          Wait til Barr is cited for contempt and nothing happens. The wailing, oy vey, even though the same happened with Holder

        2. But no one said Congress lacked that power, TiP.

          1. Did you complain about not following through then?

            1. Your continued attempts to change the argument are telling. I’m not talking about what Congress should do, I’m talking about what it can do.
              Nothing wrong with thinking Congress should have thrown the book at Holder and should be acceding to all Trump desires. But thinking Congress can’t investigate Trump unless Trump consents is just crazy.

              Congress had the power to censure Holder, whether I thought it was warranted or not.
              Congress has the power to investigate Trump, whether you think it’s warranted or not.

    2. Barr would have more credibility if he acted like a good faith AG, rather than Trump’s personal lawyer.

      1. You mean sort of like Eric Holder saying he was Barak’s wingman?

        1. Which is relevant, how?

          Oh. And learn to spell.

          1. Because, bern, if you didn’t have a problem with Holder playing offensive lineman for Obama, why the heartburn now when Barr (in your eyes) appears to be doing the same for Trump?

            1. Holder said something he shouldn’t have said.

              Barr is lying under oath and misrepresenting the Mueller report to the public.

              Big difference.

              And don’t pretend he’s not lying.

              1. I would like some evidence, other than your word and Nancy Pelosi, that Barr is lying. I heard a floated out there, but no actual proof like we have, for example, with Brennen. Maybe it’s just not in my media diet, but even if it’s an Alternet link, can I see a source?

                And Holder accurately named a thing, which according to Confucius, is the first step towards wisdom. Don’t take that from him.

                1. Read the transcript of the exchange.

                  1. I did super lawyer. Barr was completely accurate in his testimony.

                  2. He did that’s how he knows there is no lying dummy.

                    1. What the hell are you talking about? bernard11 claimed Barr lied and referred to the transcript when challenged on his idiotic claim. I looked at the transcript and noted Barr was accurate in his testimony. What you mean, I can’t say, kind of like Mueller’s fuzzy legal logic.

                    2. Apologies JesseAz if I misconstrued your comment as directed at me. It is physically painfully to read bernard11’s astoundingly idiotic claims of perjury.

                    3. All I can say is that if I caused you physical pain I’m pleased.

                      You, and Jesse, are two of the many who are damaging the country with your blind, brainless, support of anything Trump does or says.

                    4. Still waiting for bernard11 to point to out where Barr lied. Not surprising that he is incapable of doing so, since Barr’s testimony was at all times completely accurate.

                    5. Barr quoted Mueller blatantly out of context, implying an exoneration that is the Report explicitly declaims.

                      Barr conflates Mueller’s decision not to evaluate presidential obstruction with a decision on his part that the evidence is insufficient to find that Trump committed crimes.

                      Barr claims the FISA warrants were somehow improper or strange (‘spying’), when they are normal procedure in counterintelligence investigations.

                      Barr argues that Trump’s frustration obviates any corrupt intent, which is not the law.

                      Barr says Trump fully complied with the investigation, and Mueller says he did not.

                    6. Now you’re just embarrassing yourself. Again, you claimed Barr perjured himself. Point to any false testimony. Ranting like an MSNBC host doesn’t really cut it. WHERE IN THE RECORD IS THERE ANY INSTANCE OF BARR LYING UNDER OATH? There is none. Does the summary provided misrepresent the “report” findings? No it doesn’t. Now you’re claiming a legal argument you disagree with is lying? That’s just idiotic. Let me give you some advice, since you seem to be incapable of understanding. You lost the argument. You claimed that Barr lied under oath, and are now have a tantrum because you can’t actually identify any instances of perjury (that’s lying under oath in case you didn’t know).

                    7. The above comment was intended for bernard11, but if Sarcastr0 wants to take up the challenge, fine. Like I said to bernard11, identify anything in the record constituting false testimony.

              2. You mean like Holder lied about Fast & Furious? Defied their subpoena?

                On the other hand, politicians don’t know how to not lie, they only differ in how they try to cover it up, and maybe that’s why they hate Trump so much, because he doesn’t try to cover it up.

              3. What are you talking about? How? Point to one falsehood.

              4. In sum, bernard11, in the realm of stupid comments being made (and it’s hard to keep track of them all), a claim that Barr perjured himself ranks pretty high among the truly stupid, at least for this week.

                1. I’d say a claim that he didn’t ranks pretty high.

                  The man lied in his testimony, in his letter, and in his press conference.

                  You don’t want to admit it because Trump has you bamboozled, OK.

                  1. Kind of pathetic. You are unable to identify any falsehood (because there are none) but keep parroting Nancy Pelosi. Identify one lie or shut the hell up.

                    1. Identify one truthful statement or shut up.

                      The sad thing is that you’re a sucker and don’t even know it.

                    2. You claimed he lied. I asked you to identify one lie. You can’t. I think we’re done here.

          2. The term is “precedent”, maybe you’ve heard of it?

            Don’t expect us to take Democrats screaming about something seriously, if they not so long ago were doing the same thing and claiming it was OK.

            1. ‘I’m going to o use my powers to help the President with his preferred policies’ is not precedent for ‘I’m going to use my powers to shield the President from accountability.’

              1. Barr didn’t have to give anything to Congress per the law that Congress passed and the president signed. You really do get dumber by the thread.

            2. So here’s a question, Brett.

              Suppose there were someone who criticized Holder at the time, and is now similarly criticizing Barr.

              Would you accept that person’s criticism of Barr, or not?

              1. Brett??

                Where are you? Are you OK?

        2. Exactly different.

  5. Chafetz’s claim that a Trump tweet “ought to be understood as an impeachable offense” is patently ridiculous. It’s emblematic of why it’s so hard to take so much of academia (and, indeed, so much of the “resistance” more broadly) seriously.

    1. You’re correct. It sets up a catch-22. Either comply with the Dem’s fishing expedition to look for impeachment material, or don’t comply and get impeached for it.

      1. You seem to be saying that the House has no right to investigate to determine if impeachment is justified.

        That can’t be right.

        1. The requests are overly broad and not related to a specific issue of oversight and are unprecedented (as per the OP). Thus, it’s a fishing expedition to LOOK for impeachment material. You may not agree with that conclusion, but it is still not oversight in the normal sense (again, as per the OP).

          The catch-22 is thus that failure to comply with a fishing expedition to look for impeachment material is thus turned into grounds for impeachment.

          1. IIRC, SCOTUS informed us, in the travel ban case, that we were not to look at the motives behind some act, or campaign speeches, or anything like that.

            Facial legitimacy is all.

            1. And yet your whole belief in obstruction requires one to look into motives behind trumps use of constitutional powers you raging moron.

  6. The notion of negotiation and accommodation between the branches is a poor fit for a situation subject to attempts to run out the clock during the countdown to an election. If the Trump administration wants a more accommodating approach from Congress, maybe it could get it after a good-faith commitment to provide reasonably sought-for materials in short order, and forswearing threats to drag things out in the courts. But does that seem likely?

    For their part, the Democrats ought to be willing to limit their demands for materials to those for which a clear legal precedent already exists, and to limit demands for witnesses to those positioned similarly to others who have been examined in previous cases. Given history, that won’t turn out to be a high bar. Also, the administration should have nothing to say about the methods congress chooses to conduct examinations.

    With regard to executive privilege, it’s mysterious to me why that ought to confer any bar to testimony from aides about what Trump himself said. No president should have legitimate privilege to protect the privacy of his own attempts to obstruct justice, for instance.

    Even with guidelines such as those, myriad disputes would probably arise, and threaten to drag out the process. Maybe there needs to be an express lane to the Supreme Court, for quick turnaround to keep things moving.

    If the courts, as a practical matter, can’t deliver a sufficiently prompt and orderly resolution on procedural questions, then the only other forum to sort the issues is an impeachment. When you look at all the details which the administration could dispute in court to slow the process down, the wisdom of having a separate congressionally-controlled process for impeachment begins to stand out.

    1. I agree with your premises about comity and moderation, but not your conclusions for what should happen without it. Each branch has the authority and right to determine what the Constitution means for powers delegated to it. Even if they didn’t, and deferred to SCOTUS, it would side with Trump more likely than not on these demands. And impeachment, that’s just sour grapes.

    2. “after a good-faith commitment to provide reasonably sought-for materials in short order,”

      It would seem that the far-less-redacted Mueller report was exactly such a good faith effort. Why then, haven’t the D leadership taken advantage of reading it? Because they must do so in a SCIF, because they cannot take written notes out?
      They only need those quasi copies if they want to make something public. So why have they not also made a good faith effort to review the extended material?

      1. because they cannot take written notes out?
        They only need those quasi copies if they want to make something public.

        Really? That’s the only reason to take notes? What about as an aid to memory? Are they supposed to memorize the whole thing?

        1. The whole thing wasnt redacted dummy. Are you and sarcastro in competition for dumbest statement?

    3. “No president should have legitimate privilege to protect the privacy of his own attempts to obstruct justice, for instance.” Okay, but what about a president who asks his aides about legal boundaries? If I ask my lawyer “what is legal and what is not legal,” that is not evidence of an intent to violate the law.

      I have experience working with people like Trump. They want to do something in a specific way. I have to tell them that the specific way they want to do it will violate some law. Ideally, I will be able to propose a course of action that will achieve the same result without violating the law.

      And what do we mean when we say “violate the law?” If a member of the executive branch talks with a subordinate to drive 70 MPH in a 65 MPH zone, that constitutes a violation of the law. A criminal violation. But would we characterize that conversation as a criminal conspiracy?

  7. Look, I know he’s a “respected Constitutional scholar” or whatnot, but Michael McConnell is an utterly predictable advocate for right-wing causes, and his arguments, at least some we’ve seen here, are often downright hackish.

    I guess that makes him the go-to guy when you need someone to write stuff like this, but that doesn’t make his case a good one.

    1. And yet you couldnt intelligently argue against a single one of his arguments.

      1. You wouldn’t know an intelligent argument if it bit you on the ass.

  8. “2. Mr. Trump has the self-destructive tendency to deliver blunderbuss declarations, which are quickly abandoned or modified. That is the way I interpret his “no subpoenas” tweet.”

    In what way is this self-destructive? Is hyperbole the exclusive province of the Democrat? How is constantly invoking impeachment, calling for people like Barr to resign, not self-destructive, and why don’t you feel it necessary to point that out?

  9. Barr has agreed to testify in the House if the House committee will employ the ordinary procedures used for cabinet officials.

    Classic. What gives Barr the right to decide the format of the hearings? And why is the committee obligated to follow what McConnell describes as “ordinary procedures?”

    And why is Barr afraid – yes, afraid – to be questioned carefully?

    There is a long history of Congressional Committees letting counsel question witnesses. McConnell is manufacturing precedent here.

    1. What gives him the right to dictate the circumstances, is the precedent Democrats set during the Obama administration, that executive branch employees can blow off Congressional demands.

      You didn’t want Republicans doing it to you, you shouldn’t have decided it was OK for you to do to Republicans.

      1. The F&F business you’re so amped up about involved a claim of executive privilege. Maybe that was spurious. I’m not a big fan of executive privilege myself. Nor did I myself blow anything off.

        But Barr is not claiming executive privilege or any other privilege here. He is willing to testify, so long as the question is disjointed and unfocused, as it always is when it proceeds in five-minute segments. He simply wants to avoid any serious questioning. I don’t blame him, but let’s be blunt, it’s cowardice and toadyism, not principle, that motivates him.

        Hillary Clinton testified for eight hours in front of Gowdy’s kangaroo Benghazi committee, and turned over tons of documents. But Barr is shitting his pants.

        1. Serious question: what’s the legitimate reason to interrogate Barr? General clarification question I get, but I don’t see the Benghazi analogy as useful – Barr wasn’t the one around at the time, like Secretary Clinton was.

          Putting Mueller over the coals I understand – he’s the one who was actively involved (and far more so than Secretary Clinton was with Benghazi – ignoring the RedState theories on what “really” happened). But what’s really to be gained by having Barr interrogated?

          Q. “Why did you decide _____?”
          A. “Executive Privilege, deliberations”

          1. The reason is oversight. That you don’t think it would be effective doesn’t matter.

            1. Congress most certainly has the authority to oversee the President’s exercise of authorities that Congress delegated to the president. On the other hand, it’s questionable whether or not Congress has the authority to oversee the President’s exercise of his Article II powers.

              1. If the President seems to Congress to be exercising Article II powers in furtherance of high crimes and misdemeanors, then Congress has oversight, but only insofar as the question of impeachment is under consideration. The House should long since have appointed a select committee on impeachment, and funneled its multiple investigations through it.

        2. ” question is disjointed and unfocused”

          LOL. You insult your own congress people.

          Cabinet officers are peers of members of Congress, they don’t have to tolerate staff flunkys.

          1. I insult the procedure, Bob, as carried out by both parties.

            It’s hard to have focused questioning when the questioner changes every five minutes.

            Some do OK – Harris had Barr asking what “suggest” means – but time is limited, the witnesses filibuster, etc.

          2. Cabinet officers are not peers of member of Congress.

            While former Governor of Idaho Cecil Andrus was serving as U.S. Secretary of the interior, I had occasion to ask him why he went by “Governor,” instead of by “Mr. Secretary.” He replied that he had researched the protocol, and discovered that it was customary to rank elected office ahead of appointed office. So you should be titled by the highest office to which you have ever been elected, and that is what he chose to do.

            I’m guessing that view of protocol might not prevail if someone whose highest elected office was town assessor somehow then got appointed to the U.S. Cabinet, but it does seem a worthy custom otherwise.

    2. Do you know the details about the format that Nadler set? All Dem committee members deferred their time to staff lawyers who would question Barr as if he was a hostile witness, without the normal time give back and forth to the opposition party.

      1. Not true, m_k.

        According to Reuter’s,
        A resolution, adopted by a party line vote of 21-14, allows committee lawyers to question Barr during an extra hour of proceedings, on top of a traditional hearing format that provides each lawmaker on the panel with five minutes for questions and remarks.

        I think the extra hour is thirty minutes each to the majority and the minority counsels.

        1. Thanks for the link, even though it doesn’t undermine my point at all. Let me clarify. It’s the questioning by the Dem staff lawyers that is the sticking point, which does require Dems to defer their time, and during that hour of questioning, there wouldn’t be the normal back and forth with the opposition party.

          I’d refuse to show up too, and after all, he just testified in the normal fashion in the Senate.

          1. No. There will be the regular questioning as well as that by the counsel. It’s extra time.

            And the minority counsel will have an equal amount of time to lob softballs and generally whitewash Barr’s testimony.

            That he testified in the Senate is immaterial.

            1. That he testified to the Senate, under normal conditions, is not immaterial, in that it shows his willingness to testify to Democrats under normal conditions.

              From your link, it’s not clear that an equal hour of time is given to a GOP staff lawyer, which they don’t want or need anyway. That said, an hour’s time by a lawyer from the opposition party with no back and forth, that’s a set up for a “lying to Congress” charge, and you ought to be savvy enough to spot it. You wouldn’t have expected Holder to be stupid enough to walk into that, would you? Even when the GOP Senate questioned Ford at the confirmation hearings for Kavenaugh by deferring their time to a specialist, it was only in short segments before going back to the opposition party. That’s the closest precedent I can think of. Do you know any time, in the history of the Congress, where a member of the Executive Branch testified to a lawyer like that?

              1. It’s not at the link, true, but my understanding from news reports is that each side’s counsel gets half an hour, over and above the time allotted to members.

                As to your question, as I recall during the Watergate hearings counsel did lot of questioning.

                Then there is this, by W. Neil Eggleston, who was deputy chief counsel for the Iran-Contra committee.

                Writing about those hearings, he says,

                Of particular relevance to the current dispute between the attorney general and the House Judiciary Committee, witnesses who testified at the hearings were first questioned on television and in open hearings not just by the members of Congress but by lawyers on the committees’ staff.

                Further,

                This practice applied to all witnesses, including the Cabinet secretaries and other senior administration officials who testified. Caspar Weinberger, who was secretary of defense, was later indicted for his testimony; he was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. Attorney General Edwin Meese also testified at the hearings without limitation. The committees believed that the oversight and public education functions of the hearings would be better met by initial uninterrupted questioning by committee counsel. The committees also believed that it was entirely under its discretion to determine the best method of conducting the hearings.

                And,

                The role of a committee lawyer questioner at the Iran-Contra hearings was not my only exposure to the practice of having counsel conduct questioning in congressional hearings. In the 1990s, I was an associate counsel in President Bill Clinton’s White House counsel’s office. I was called to testify before the Senate Whitewater Committee, an examination that also took place in an open hearing and on television. The initial questioning was done by Michael Chertoff, who was lead counsel to the committee. At the time, Republicans controlled the Senate, and Sen. Al D’Amato was the chairman. A number of Clinton administration witness were called to testify before that committee and, to my memory, were all questioned first by committee counsel. I don’t remember any objection from the Clinton White House to that process.

                So this plan is far from unheard of.

                1. Fair enough, not completely unheard of, then again, neither is not testifying due either.

  10. Mr. Trump has the self-destructive tendency to deliver blunderbuss declarations, which are quickly abandoned or modified. That is the way I interpret his “no subpoenas” tweet.

    He’s just the President. You can’t assume he means what he says. Some defense.

    1. Politicians lie and are full of bluster (no matter whose side you’re one). Obama said he’d walk the picket line with Union protesters, for example, or that “if you like your plan you can keep your plan.” Any self respecting person should have known that he was as full of shit as when Trump said he’d deport every illegal alien.

      Look at what they do, not what they say. So yea, it actually is a pretty good defense, when Trump is, as the post by the Conspirator notes, generally complying with the courts, etc.

    2. A public statement isnt an official memo idiot.

  11. To my mind, denying that Congress has any role whatsoever in overseeing the executive ought to be understood as an impeachable offense.

    To members of the left-wing establishment President Trump having two scoops of ice cream “ought to be understood as an impeachable offense.”

    The Democrat party (including Prof. Chafitz) is floating ideas to justify impeachment of President Trump to see what sticks in the public mind.

    1. Nice ad hominem. Now, what do you think about the statement you quoted?

      1. I’ll answer: no.

        Preventing Congresses role in oversight would be impeachable.

        “Denying” it as it’s been done (in words only this far) is not.

        Alternatively, if just the claim is impeachable, then every President thus far should have been impeached, and we’ll run through the entire Succession Act in under a year, and we’ll do so with the next president too. I’m actually happy with this outcome, but it’s a very different equilibrium.

      2. The statement is simply an absurd “ad hominem” attack itself. Another embarrassment to legal academia. The president has not asserted that Congress has no oversight role and has never acted in such a way that indicates he believes that Congress has no oversight role. That would be the previous administration.

        1. Sad you don’t know what ad hominem means.

          Trump has stated he intends to prevent Congress’s from fulfilling it’s oversight role.

          1. And you believed him?

          2. Like every politician ever in the entire history of the universe, trump says he will do things, and then doesn’t do them.

            1. So the answer to whether what Trump said is bad is that Trump was certainly lying?

              Considering the instructions he’s already sent out to his people, this seems dubious.

              1. No, the answer is: Too soon to tell. Ask again later.

              2. The instruction to let barr testify this week? You dumb.

          3. Really, he said “I intend to prevent Congress’s from fulfilling it’s oversight role”? Nonsense.

      3. I am criticizing Mr. Chafetz as being inauthentic. That is perfectly legitimate and not ad hominem.

        I generally try to avoid engaging in debates with someone over something they don’t sincerely advocate for.

  12. I think it is pretty obvious to any observer that these Congressional “investigations” have nothing to do with proper oversight but are just a bad faith effort by Dems to dig up dirt on Trump. And seeing this I don’t think it takes a political genius to understand why the administration doesn’t want to cooperate.

    Do you really think the House wants his tax returns (which he is under no legal, moral, or ethical obligation to disclose) so they can conduct a good faith investigation? Or do you think they want them just so a few more copies are floating around and *woops* they got leaked? Yeah the later I am pretty sure. Same with just about everything else.

    1. First there’s a plain black-and-white statute that requires the IRS to turn over tax returns requested by Ways and Means.

      Second, in the past Trump repeatedly promised to publish his returns.

      So in your deranged mind obeying a law is not a legal requirement, and keeping one’s promises is not a moral or ethical one.

      Trumpist “thinking.”

      1. While you’re correct about the law’s requirement to turn over tax returns (assuming it would apply to the president and there was no issue with executive privilege, etc.), do you feel that it might set a bad precedent for the House to go through a president’s tax returns absent some specific reason?

        1. The language of Sec. 6103(f) is clear. However, I wonder if the courts might impose limits on this statute, especially when Congress is trying to obtain tax returns from a member of a co-equal branch of government.

          1. Since the original idea behind the statute was precisely that, I doubt it.

        2. I would prefer that Presidents, and candidates release their tax returns, as most or all have done for decades.

          If someone decides they don’t want to, then I prefer they be honest about it early on, rather than promising repeatedly to do so, then making up absurd excuses – “I’m being audited” – for not following through.

          Is it a bad precedent for Congress to look at the President’s returns? Bad precedent for what? Future Congresses doing the same? Not very bad, no.

          I mean, I doubt a future Republican Congress would refrain from doing this to a Democratic President, precedent or not. Of course that reflects my extremely low opinion of the integrity of Republicans, which has gotten even lower as I see so many kowtow to Trump.

          1. Hillary should have been forced to release her medical records then… right?

            1. WTF are you talking about, Jesse?

              That’s a real reach.

              Medical records and tax returns are two different things, you know.

              I’m not aware that candidates routinely release their medical records.

              1. Medical records and tax returns are two different things, you know.

                They’re both protected under privacy act laws, so the distinction is without a difference.

            2. Oh wait. I just found out where Jesse is coming from on this medical records business.

              Apparently, in the extreme, idiotic, precincts of the alt-right there is the idea that Clinton suffers from all sorts of ailments, too numerous to list. And Jesse the Gullible believes it.

      2. The statute as applied violates his Constitutional right to privacy under the concept of ordered liberty found in the 14th amendment.

        He doesn’t waive that just because he got elected.

        1. HAHAHAHA!

          If a woman can kill a baby because of the 14th Amendment, a president should be able to keep his tax returns (prior to being elected) private because of the 14th Amendment. I love it (in a good way).

          1. Nobody can kill a baby.

            Don’t fall for that.

            1. Your definition of baby is clearly different from mine, and as such, is the entire point of contention between both sides on the issue of abortion.

              1. It’s a good thing your positions are increasingly irrelevant as America’s liberal-libertarian progress continues.

                1. So you’re on record admitting that you consider it “progress” for a woman to be able to suck an 8 month old fetus out of her uterus, and for a man to explode inside another man’s lower intestine and go to a county clerk and get a “marriage” license?

      3. There is also the plain black and white language of the 4th amendment. Just because a law is passed doesnt mean it is constitutional.

        1. What does the 4th Amendment have to do with it?

          You’re nuts.

  13. I think it is pretty obvious to any observer

    That there’s a tell, folks!

  14. The bad faith back and forth here show that Rep Green is correct in drafting a bill of impeachment now and offering it for a procedural vote.
    That would make clear the bona fide reasons for informational requests.
    It is difficult to imagine that any tax return information would not be leaked. Therefore, direct legal challenges to those requests seem reasonable. The public’s fixation on (all) candidates tax returns is little more than “gothca” voyeurism.

    1. I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

      Wait…wrong movie.

      Single reactor ignition. You may fire when ready.

  15. I’m afraid that Congressional oversight of the Executive is not one of my top areas of expertise. So can someone advise, in baby terms, whence such powers and responsibilities spring ? Either within the Constitution directly, or from laws themselves grounded in Congress’s Congressional powers. Feel free to tack on an answer to the related question as to where they get their powers to interrogate private citizens.

    Since both parties seem quite happy that such powers properly exist, since they don’t hesitate to use them when they have the chance, I assume that there is a constitutional explanation that suits both strict and living constitutionalists. Particularly so as I see that one of the duelling lawyers thinks having queries in this area is, of itself, grounds for impeachment. I feel I may need to bone up in this area before running for public office.

    For the avoidance of doubt, I am confident that there are lots of statutes and lots of case law about such matters. I’m more interested in the link to the Constituton.

    1. “Congress’s Congressional powers” should of course be “Congress’s constitutional powers” – these C words can get confusing

    2. People been down on the wiki lately but these cites are legit.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_oversight

  16. The absurdity here is that every one is in high dungeon about this. Trump is the guy who purportedly wrote “Art of the Deal”. You don’t win at negotiations by giving the other side everything that they want up front. Both sides have extreme positions. Both sides are going to have to compromise and give something up, or no deal. The worrisome prospect to me is that Pelosi and her leadership may not be in a position to compromise, given their newly empowered radical elements. Even with that, I expect Trump to flex some, just to show that he is the reasonable one, and if the public wants a House that does anything besides attacking and harassing the President, they will have to give it back to the Republicans.

    1. Starting your negotiation in an unconstitutional place seems like starting your business deal with an offer to murder the other side, just to stake out a quality starting position.

      Plus, of course, Trump has not shown his negotiating prowess very much, just his ability to whine and play to his base.

      1. bernard11: “Trump didn’t write it.”

        Probably didn’t read it, either.

  17. Tragically, no one is in high or even low dungeon about this. I feel sure that the Republic would be in safer hands if many more of these Congresscritturs, on both sides, were in dungeons up and down the land.

    As for dudgeon, it’s all staged for the amusement of the public.

  18. Liberals really need to get over the fact that their little coup didn’t work and now they are going to have to pay the piper for their treason and sedition.
    I’m sure they can enjoy munching on KFC in jail just as much as at a committee hearing.

    1. treason and sedition

      LOL.

      1. That’s what you get from the batshit brigade.

      2. What else would you call knowingly spying on a Presidential campaign and then setting up a duly elected President for a two year investigation that is designed solely to force him out of office? I call that treason and a coup attempt. If the same fact pattern happened in any old banana republic that is exactly what we would be calling it – a coup.

  19. The thing about agreeing to a “deal” is that both sides usually have to think that they have more to gain from the deal than not entering into it. What incentive is there for the administration to agree to anything short of what they asked for? They have to know that no matter what questions they answer or documents they produce it will never be enough and if Democrats were dumb enough to try and impeach the President, they may as well hand the gavel back to the Republicans now.

    1. And I think they are exactly dumb enough to do that!

    2. TW: I usually don’t give Trump credit for having a plan, but here I think he may have one. He agrees with those who think impeachment would hurt the Democrats and he wants to goad them into doing it.

  20. Nice to see the learned commentator responding on the merits with “But Obama…!”

    Yeah, in the middle of some other stuff where he thought we wouldn’t notice, but we did. #whataboutism #degreeprogram

  21. I tire of the Democrats games and posturing. It’s pretty clear they have no real interest in actual criminal investigation, but are only seeking media attention and political theater.

    This entire debacle over the Mueller report illustrates the case nicely. A real criminal investigation would be interested in the facts of the matter. Barr released the conclusions, then released the entire report, on schedule, redacting the information required by law.

    But the Democrats object. He didn’t tell the “narrative” Mueller and the Democrats wanted. Regardless of the fact the entire report is out there, and it clearly states there is not enough evidence for collusion charges. If Mueller wanted to indict Trump, he had the opportunity to state that in his report. He did not.

    Enough. It’s done. It’s over. If Democrats want to impeach Trump, they should go ahead and do it now. Or they should let it go and move on. The Democrats are doing more to hurt this country right now than Trump or Russia.

    1. Fat chance.
      I just heard Rachel Maddow comparing Trump’s situation today with Nixon in May of 74, just 3 months before he resigned.
      Trump and Barr hold almost all the high cards in this game.
      I’m no Trump fan, but watching Shillary voters disintegrate when she lost was awesome.
      Similarly, as the attempted silent coup gets exposed over the next few months, the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth by the left will also be so sweet.

      1. Indeed. And that “fat chance” is why Trump refuses to play anymore. I don’t blame him.

      2. I’m no Trump fan, but watching Shillary voters disintegrate when she lost was awesome.

        You sure sound like a Trump fan.

        1. One can be anti—Hilary without being pro-Trump. Watching all the heads exploding was definitely enjoyable despite my being neither a Republican nor fan of the President.

          1. Trump’s petty partisan red meat based persona is center mass what people that say ‘Shillery’ eat up.

          2. Indeed. For whatever reason, many people, typically on the left, have a problem recognizing this.

            1. ‘I’m not pro Trump, I’m just against any attempts to change what he’s doing. Also he makes me happy.’

              1. Shitlib bitch Sarcastr0 cries when his fellow Democrats lose.

              2. All these guys are just covering their asses. When all the facts about Trump come out, whenever that is, they will be saying they never like the guy.

                Meanwhile they put on red hats and cheer for him, no matter what.

              3. See, it’s this “you’re either with us entirely or the evil against us” binary mindset that’s part of the problem. There’s no room for alternate points of view.

                To use an extreme example, it’s like Hitler and Stalin.

                We don’t really like Stalin, he’s a jerk. But he’s currently beating the crap out of Hitler, who really had it coming, and we do like that. And we’re not going to stop Stalin from beating the crap out of Hitler, because Hitler’s trying all sort of evil and stupid crap.

    2. They’re disgusting savages. These people belong in concentration camps.

      1. That’s likely a step too far. What might be more useful is a good sit down with a group of Americans, and hearing and understanding what they have to say on the subject. What they all have to say, not just the most vocal.

        1. You’ll have no future in politics with that sort of outmoded thinking….

          1. Naw, see he shored up his bona fides with it only being ‘a step too far.’ He’s not kill-crazy…but he’s also edgy. He’ll go far!

          2. I’m really no good at politics, personally. I tried to get elected class president in high school with a platform that we would give up our class trip in order to donate a really good gift to the school. I lost to the candidates who were throwing candy out to the crowd.

        2. Excuse me, A.L, but is it your claim that Democrats are not Americans?

          1. No.

    3. it clearly states there is not enough evidence for collusion charges.

      No. It says, first, that “collusion” has no legal definition. No matter what Trump did he would not have been guilty of collusion, by definition.

      But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law.

      Then it says that Mueller would not say Trump obstructed justice not because there was insufficient evidence but because it would be unfair to accuse someone of a crime unless that person were indicted, and DOJ policy prevents the indictment of a sitting President. Indeed,

      “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

      This was never an investigation that was going to indict Trump, Barr’s slipping and sliding notwithstanding and pretending the failure to indict was an exoneration, because Trump was never going to be indicted. All that business about “charging decisions” that Barr threw up was a smokescreen.

  22. I would only add that under the threat of impeachment or prosecution, the wise person seeks counsel and exercises their constitutional right to STFU- or exerts executive privilege etc. Widespread threats of impeachment will kill any incentive to cooperate. Under the threat of impeachment, committees should expect to get the absolute bare minimum, which very well could be nothing. Prosecutors always say ” well if you have nothing to hide waive your rights…” wise defendants never take that bait.

    Unfortunately the atmosphere is too severely poisoned for cooperation now, so the courts will have to sort out what the bare minimum is.

    1. Are you under the illusion that Trump would cooperate otherwise?

      Barr’s falsehoods notwithstanding, Trump did not cooperate with Mueller. He refused to be interviewed, and his written answers to questions were full of failures to recall, etc.

      1. Your unsupported nonsense claims that Barr lied notwithstanding, the president allowed this farce of an investigation to conclude, produced millions of pages of documents, allowed senior staff to be interviewed and (for the purposes of the investigation) waived executive privilege. He also answered interrogatories. Strange way to not cooperate. If the answers were inadequate, than that sleaze Mueller should have asked additional questions or followed up with subpoenas. The cowardly sleaze knew he couldn’t justify that action and so declined to follow that path, choosing instead to do his best to write one of the most inept, biased pieces of garbage since the Steele “dossier.”

  23. […] * Jonathan Adler flags a thoughtful debate between Michael McConnell and Josh Chafetz on the battle over subpoenas between President Trump and Congressional Democrats. [Volokh Conspiracy / Reason] […]

  24. […] * Jonathan Adler flags a thoughtful debate between Michael McConnell and Josh Chafetz on the battle over subpoenas between President Trump and Congressional Democrats. [Volokh Conspiracy / Reason] […]

  25. […] * Jonathan Adler flags a thoughtful debate between Michael McConnell and Josh Chafetz on the battle over subpoenas between President Trump and Congressional Democrats. [Volokh Conspiracy / Reason] […]

  26. […] and Josh Chafetz on the battle over subpoenas between President Trump and Congressional Democrats. [Volokh Conspiracy / Reason] * Howard Wasserman identifies an interesting argument against police officers using body-worn […]

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