Frustration with Democrats and the subpoena process
Coming up this week: Monday is the deadline for the IRS to turn over Trump’s tax returns AND the deadline for Barr to turn over the unredacted report. I think we all know it is very unlikely either of these deadlines will be met. With that in mind…
There has been a lot of bashing of the Democrats for not moving forward with contempt charges or impeachment proceedings fast enough. I know it is really frustrating – I, too, have made comments expressing exasperation with the slowness of the entire process.
However, there is a reason for the “slow” process. Charlie Savage wrote a great explainer in The New York Times and Rachel Maddow and Joy Reid briefly summarized it as well (it’s a short piece, worth watching!). Essentially, the Democrats are creating a paper trail to show both the public and the courts that they are acting in good faith, which is essential to winning the case when it ends up in court. Of course it is hard to sit back and wait when we know the other side is not acting in good faith, but there is a method and a plan in place.
Savage specifically discusses this in relation to the House subpoena for Mueller’s unredacted report:
if the dispute moves to the courts, as seems likely, one of the issues that will arise is whether each branch has tried to accommodate the other branch’s constitutional needs.
In previous legal battles over the ambiguous line where Congress’s subpoena power ends and the president’s executive privilege power begins, courts have said that the Constitution requires both sides to negotiate in good faith to find a solution. If nothing else, Mr. Nadler is establishing a record that House lawyers can point to in any such litigation as they urge a judge to find that the administration’s position is unreasonable.
[Nadler] is filling in the record for a future court, for a future federal judge who will be looking at his behavior and who will want to see evidence that he did everything possible to come to a negotiated solution, that he gave them every out.
…Joy Reid: If any of this ends up in the Supreme Court, they may want to have shown… we weren’t out to get this guy, we really had no choice.
Finally, there have been many articles explaining the powers of Congress and how the subpoena, contempt, impeachment process works. Here is a general one from The New York Times and here is another focused more on contempt and enforcement from Reuters.