This week has been typical for our lawless administration. Kellyanne Conway declined
an invitation (cough) a subpoena from Congress, compelling her to testify before the House Oversite Committee regarding her many violations of the Hatch act, her misuse of public funds, and other crimes.
Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the panel, received an RSVP in the form of a letter penned by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. Cipollone sited Trump’s ”long-standing view” that current and former White House officials are ”absolutely immune” from congressional testimony:
“Ms. Conway cannot be compelled to testify before Congress concerning matters related to her service as a senior adviser to the president. Because of this constitutional immunity, and in order to protect the prerogatives of the Office of the President, the President has directed Ms. Conway not to appear at the Committee’s scheduled hearing on Monday, July 15, 2019,” ~White House counsel, Pat Cipollone,
Conway’s Crimes are not ”matters related to her service as a senior advisor” of individual 1, and ignoring a subpoena based on an invented rule could be considered obstruction of justice. That is what this administration does best.
Bill Barr, Don McGahn, and Hope Hicks have similarly ignored subpoenas issued by various House Committees, but none have had consequences.
How do they get away with this?
The Constitution does not specify what actions can be taken in this type of situation, but the Supreme Court has ruled in several similar cases. Congress has a choice of three responses to defiance of subpoenas:
- They can hold the non-compliant party in contempt; they have the authority to detain and imprison a contemnor until the individual complies.
- Congress can certify a contempt citation to the executive branch for the criminal prosecution of the contemnor.
- Or Congress pass the buck to the judicial branch to enforce, hoping it doesn’t end up on the desk of a judge newly appointed by McConnell.
So far Congress has responded to this administration’s contemptible staff and cabinet by issuing strongly worded warnings with floating deadlines— you’re in big trouble, three weeks from Tuesday unless the vote is postponed until further notice.
This method has been ineffective. By not following through on threats, how can Congress expect to maintain its place as a co-equal branch in government?
The traitor in the White House is consciously undermining public perception of the role of Congress and our three-party system. This will help him in his long term goals fascist goals.