With help from the United States Attorney General and Republicans in Congress?
Donald J. Trump is seeking to make an American President a King….
….the House has no right to impeach Trump. It calls the proceedings “illegal,” and one of Congress’ “unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process.” There is no remotely plausible constitutional theory to support this claim. The Constitution gives the House absolute right to conduct impeachment hearings in a manner determined by the House….
And….To nullify the idea that ‘no one is above the law’…
While the Trump administration has repeatedly taken unprecedented legal positions to delay and stonewall Congress, it previously recognized, however tacitly, the legitimacy of impeachment as a constitutional remedy. Even when it prevented witnesses like former White House counsel Don McGahn from testifying, it provided a fig leaf of justification—executive privilege or attorney-client privilege, for example—thereby implicitly acknowledging the oversight prerogatives of Congress and its power to issue subpoenas.
That changed on Tuesday.
Trump announced on Twitter that he directed Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, to not appear before the House Intelligence Committee to testify pursuant to the impeachment inquiry. His only justification was that it is a “kangaroo court” that does not allow the “true facts” to be revealed to the public. That does not even pretend to be a legal justification for blocking the testimony of an important witness who reportedly called Trump before texting another State Department official, denying Trump had sought a quid pro quo with Ukraine.
The administration followed up with a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, which blasted the impeachment inquiry as “illegitimate” and an “unconstitutional” effort to “overturn the democratic process.” The letter declares that the administration “cannot participate” in the impeachment inquiry as a result. Calling the constitutional process of impeachment “unconstitutional” is a brazen attempt to persuade the public that reality is not what it actually is—that up is down and black is white. Call it the “alternative facts” school of legal reasoning.
While the letter is signed by a lawyer and occasionally uses legal terms, such as “due process,” it is a political document, not a legal one. The complaints that the administration has with the impeachment inquiry are not legalreasons that would excuse a failure to comply with the inquiry. Trump is not going to court. He is not claiming privilege. He has simply declared that the usual rules don’t apply to him.
That is very different than taking advantage of legal procedure to delay by claiming privilege or filing cases in court. Using legal means to cause delay can frustrate the process, but it is not a rejection of the process. In fact, it is often key to a zealous defense that is essential to our adversarial legal system. Whenever you file your tax return, you concede that you have a legal obligation to pay taxes. Asking for an extension or claiming an unwarranted deduction is very different from refusing to file a return altogether because you believe the U.S. government is illegitimate. “Tax protesters” who do so are routinely prosecuted and sent to prison.
By declaring impeachment “illegitimate,” Trump seeks to delegitimize the only mechanism by which he can be punished for wrongful behavior while in office. Of all the unprecedented things Trump has done, this has the potential to be the most damaging.
The Justice Department has long taken the position that a sitting president cannot be indicted. The reasoning behind the Justice Department’s policy is that impeachment is the constitutional remedy for presidential wrongdoing and that impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. In a recent lawsuit he filed to block the Manhattan district attorney from examining his taxes, Trump pushed this theory to the breaking point. Trump asserted that not only is he safe from indictment, he cannot even be investigated while in office.
The assumption underlying all of those arguments is that impeachment is the remedy for presidential wrongdoing. Trump’s move on Tuesday aims to take that singular remedy off the table. If he succeeds—if impeachment is delegitimized and ignored—then Trump, and future presidents, will be truly above the law….
If and when Trump’s refusal to honour ANY request from Congress comes down to decisions from the Federal courts?
Trump is SURE to lose them…
Hence the rush by Democrats to do an impeachment is wanted by Republicans on one hand?
And NOT wanted since the longer this process is strung out?
The more disinterested the public MIGHT be…
And the public IS where the Democrats political game is being aimed at to try to change the US Senate firewall Trump is counting on from fellow Republicans…