The Justice Department issued a legal opinion Friday finding that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was right to withhold President Donald Trump’s tax returns from a House committee that subpoenaed them.
The House Ways and Means Committee subpoenaed six years of Trump’s tax returns in May, but the Treasury Department refused to provide the documents. At the time, Mnuchin said the request lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose.”
he 33-page opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel argues that the committee’s chairman, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., wanted to make the president’s tax returns public and because of that plan, the request was not to carry out a legitimate legislative function.
But Neal has said the law is clear the information must be released to Congress, the documents were sought to aid a committee investigation into whether the IRS is doing its job properly to audit a sitting president, and obtaining them would be a “necessary piece” of the committee’s work.
“The Chairman’s request that Treasury turn over the President’s tax returns, for the apparent purpose of making them public, amounted to an unprecedented use of the Committee’s authority and raised a serious risk of abuse,” the opinion said.
Democrats sought Trump’s tax returns under a 1924 law that directs the IRS to furnish such information when requested to the chairs of Congress’ tax-writing committees. Besides Trump, every president since Richard Nixon has made his tax returns public.
Neal said last month that he didn’t plan to hold Mnuchin in contempt, saying the committee may instead pursue a legal fight to force the Treasury Department to turn over the documents.
A spokeswoman for the House Ways and Means Committee said the legal opinion was still being reviewed and declined to comment further. Representatives for the Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Image Credit: AP
Source: The Washington Pundit
L PASO, Texas (AP) — The Trump administration is facing growing complaints from migrants about severe overcrowding, meager food and other hardships at border holding centers, with some people at an encampment in El Paso being forced to sleep on the bare ground during dust storms.
The Border Network for Human Rights issued a report Friday based on dozens of testimonials of immigrants over the past month and a half, providing a snapshot of cramped conditions and prolonged stays in detention amid a record surge of migrant families coming into the U.S. from Central America.
The report comes a day after an advocate described finding a teenage mother cradling a premature baby inside a Border Patrol processing center in Texas. The advocate said the baby should have been in a hospital, not a facility where adults are kept in large fenced-in sections that critics describe as cages.
The state of human rights in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands is grave and is only getting worse,” the immigrant rights group said in its report. “People are dying because of what is happening.”
Five immigrant children have died since late last year after being detained by the Border Patrol, including a flu-stricken teenager who was found dead in a facility migrants refer to as the “icebox” because of the temperatures inside.
Customs and Border Protection responded to the complaints by saying: “Allegations are not facts. If there is an issue it is best to contact CBP directly. In many cases the matter can be resolved immediately.”
The agency also cited its response to a critical inspector general’s report last month, in which it said the government is devoted to treating migrants in its custody “with the utmost dignity and respect.”
The Trump administration has blamed the worsening crisis on inaction by Congress.
Many of the complaints center on El Paso, where the inspector general found severe overcrowding inside a processing center. A cell designed for a dozen people was crammed with 76, and migrants had to stand on the toilets.
With indoor facilities overcrowded, the Border Patrol has kept some immigrants outside and in tents near a bridge in El Paso with nothing but a Mylar foil blanket. Others have been kept in an empty parking lot, where migrants huddled underneath tarps and foil blankets repurposed as shade covers against the sweltering heat.
A professor who visited two weeks ago said it resembled a “human dog pound.” The Border Patrol responded by adding additional shade structures, but migrants are still kept outside in temperatures approaching 100 degrees.
Image credit: Joe Raedle- Getty Images
Source: The Washington Pundit
TRUMP tells George Stephanopoulos “there isn’t anything wrong with listening” to foreign info about rivals, what do you think?
Trump says he ‘would want to hear’ info on 2020 rivals from foreign governments – and outrage follows
Democrats are outraged after President Trump said in an interview Wednesday that he would be willing to listen to foreign governments if they approached him with information on a political rival. “I think I’d want to hear it. … I … See More think you might want to listen. There isn’t anything wrong with listening,” he said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. Trump added he would not necessarily contact the FBI if such an approach was made, fueling Democrats’ ire. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a 2020 candidate for president, tweeted, “It’s time for Congress to begin impeachment hearings.”
Still, Trump supporters point out that Democrats may be hypocrites on this issue, as they failed to condemn fellow Democrats, including representatives of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), for funding the creation of the infamous and discredited anti-Trump “Steele dossier” by former British spy Christopher Steele. Fox News’ Sean Hannity called the Trump-Stephanopoulos interview a “nonstory” and a “genius setup”by Trump for his foes in the “media mob.” The interview was released hours after House Judiciary Committee Democrats announced that former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks has agreed to testify before the panel next week on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
Brother of ‘Shark Tank’ star Barbara Corcoran found dead in Dominican Republic hotel room
The intrigue surrounding vacation spots in the Dominican Republic deepened Wednesday with the news that Jonathan Corcoran, a retired New Jersey businessman and brother of ABC “Shark Tank” judge Barbara Corcoran, was found dead in a hotel room there in April. Jonathan Corcoran’s death was first reported by the gossip site TMZ and confirmed to Fox News by Emily Burke, Barbara Corcoran’s assistant. The revelation comes as the popular Caribbean vacation spot is making worldwide headlines with a recent rash of suspicious deaths of U.S. tourists plus the shooting of retired Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. It was unclear where Corcoran stayed at the time of his death. TMZ said no one knows exactly what led to his death, though Barbara Corcoran told the outlet that she was told he had a heart attack.
Six suspects, including alleged gunman, in custody in David Ortiz shooting
Six suspects have been detained in the shooting of former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz, including the alleged gunman, authorities in the Dominican Republic said Wednesday. Four other suspects were being pursued in the shooting, which witnesses said was carried out by two men on a motorcycle and two other groups of people in cars, the country’s chief prosecutor, Jean Alain Rodríguez, told a news conference. Authorities identified the alleged shooter as Rolfy Ferreyra, aka Sandy. Police Maj. Gen. Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte said the coordinator of the attack also was among the suspects in custody. He claimed the man was offered 400,000 Dominican pesos, or about $7,800, to carry out the shooting Sunday evening at a popular Santo Domingo bar.
Two oil tankers damaged in suspected attack in the Gulf of Oman, crew evacuated
Two oil tankers were damaged in a suspected attack off the Gulf of Oman early Thursday, according to multiple reports. The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet told Reuters it was assisting two tankers in the Gulf of Oman after receiving two distress calls. “We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7:00 a.m.,” Joshua Frey of the Fifth Fleet said. The Fleet did not blame anyone for the attack..
Tonight: Fox News town hall with 2020 Dem Julian Castro
Fox News is scheduled to host 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary, for a town hall at 6:30 p.m. ET Thursday. “Special Report” host Bret Baier and “The Story” host Martha MacCallum will moderate the one-hour event live from Phoenix.
Baier and MacCallum recently moderated similar events with 2020 hopefuls Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and potential candidate Howard Schultz. Their Fox News colleague Chris Wallace moderated a town hall with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who’s also in the running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Tune in to Fox News tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET.
52 years in the making: St. Louis Blues win their first-ever Stanley Cup championship
The St. Louis Blues beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Wednesday night’s deciding game for the Stanley Cup, to win their firstchampionship. The victory was 52 years in the making. Ryan O’Reilly scored for the fourth straight game and rookie Jordan Binnington stopped 32 shots in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Alex Pietrangelo added a goal and an assist and Brayden Schenn and Zach Sanford also scored for St. Louis. The Blues’ championship run is remarkable because it was so unthinkable just five months ago. The team woke up on New Year’s Day with the worst record in the league but then won 30 of their final 49 regular-season games and soared through the playoffs to reach the final for the first time since 1970.
12 white men sue San Francisco PD for racial, gender bias in promotions.
Nation’s first black priest, an ex-slave, may be on his way to sainthood.
‘X-Men’ director Bryan Singer to pay $150G to settle sex assault claim: report.
MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
General Motors to put $150M toward Michigan plant to ramp up production, company says.
This is how Americans spend their money based on their education level.
Top five vacation spots targetedby online booking scams: report.
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Sen. Mitt Romney moved Wednesday on an immigration proposal he claims would address one reason hundreds of thousands have illegally crossed into the U.S. since October, and the bill could find an unexpected supporter in President Trump.
Romney on Wednesday introduced the Permanent E-Verify Act, which would turn the E-Verify program into a permanent fixture within the U.S. employment system. The introduction marks the first immigration item Romney has proposed since taking office in January, according to his aide.
“Congress needs to act now to address our illegal immigration crisis by closing legal loopholes and removing the magnets — like illegal unemployment — that drive illegal immigration,” Romney said in a statement. “My home state of Utah has already taken a step to reduce illegal employment by requiring employers to use E-Verify. I urge my colleagues to take action on this important legislation to make E-Verify permanent, and continue working on long term fixes to secure the border, update our asylum and trafficking laws, and institute mandatory E-Verify nationwide.”
E-Verify is an online tool that allows employers to input a new hire’s driver’s license and Social Security information to verify whether the person’s identity is legitimate and eligible for work. Hiring an undocumented immigrant is a federal crime.
All federal government employees and contractors must be cleared through E-Verify prior to being hired, but enrollment for the private sector is voluntary. The bill would not force all private entities to enroll or use the program, just make its renewal — usually done by Congress every year — a thing of the past.
E-Verify initially rolled out in 1996 as a pilot program by the Clinton administration and is now administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is set to expire at the end of September.
The White House is in the process of piecing together an immigration reform bill that has been reported as likely to include E-Verify. Trump has endorsed the policy but not moved on any executive action that would make it a permanent program or force companies to enroll.
Romney and Trump are known foes who have criticized each other since the 2016 presidential election. At the time, Trump ripped the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, saying if he had fought as heard as he did against Trump in 2016, he would have beat former President Barack Obama four years earlier.
Romney’s office has not indicated if it expects the White House to endorse the bill.
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — An emotional Jon Stewart, who was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a Congressional hearing on the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, was given the turnout coat of FDNY legend Ray Pfeifer, who died from 9/11-related cancer two years ago.
Pfeifer, who served more than 27 years with the FDNY, was at the World Trade Center after the buildings collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001 and worked for months on the toxic pile at ground zero.
He was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and made the trip to Capitol Hill dozens of times to lobby for 9/11 health and compensation bills before his death at age 59 in 2017.
YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS VIDEO. An emotional Jon Stewart is given the turnout coat of @FDNY legend Ray Pfeifer, who died from 9/11 related cancer. Ret #FDNY Kenny Specht makes the presentation outside a Congressional hearing room. @wcbs880 #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/WD6kW5Lvje
— Peter Haskell (@peterhaskell880) June 11, 2019
Retired FDNY firefighter Kenny Specht presented Pfeifer’s East Meadow Fire Department bunker coat to Stewart, who delivered the euology at Pfeifer’s funeral, outside a Congressional hearing room on Tuesday.
John Feal, who runs the 9/11 advocacy organization FealGood Foundation, purchased the coat Monday after it was put up for auction by Pfeifer’s brother.
“John Feal paid handsomely for this yesterday and outbid three other people to see to it that he took possession of this coat,” Specht said. “John wanted Jon Stewart to have this.”
Several 9/11 first responders signed the coat before it was given to the comedian.
“I believe everybody here today in this hallway has learned brotherhood and camraderie because we all have one mission,” Specht said. “We appreciate your help Jon, and this comes from John and this comes from everybody in this hallway.”
House Judiciary Comm hearing on 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is underway. Comedian and 9/11 advocate Jon Stewart is among the witnesses. VCF is running dry because of a surge of illnesses. Bill would restore funding to help responders and survivors. @wcbs880 #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/AxSSfFX95s
— Peter Haskell (@peterhaskell880) June 11, 2019
“I don’t deserve this but I will treasure it like I treasured Ray and our friendship,” said Stewart, a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders, who joined sickened first responders and students in Washington D.C. to ask Congress to expand the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, which has nearly run dry.
Comedian Jon Stewart is all business at House hearing. He blasted Congress for its inaction in failing to fully fund #VCF. This was an attack on US. Stewart testified “al Qaeda didn’t shout death to Tribeca.” @wcbs880 #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/DNjt2y6Zqm
— Peter Haskell (@peterhaskell880) June 11, 2019
His emotion carried over into the hearing when he talked about the first 911 call on Sept. 11, 2001.
“They responded in five seconds, they did their jobs with courage, grace, tenacity, humility — 18 years later, do yours,” he demanded of lawmakers.
During the hearing, Stewart accused Congress of “callous indifference and rank hypocrisy” in failing to renew the fund.
“Why this bill isn’t unanimous consent and a stand-alone issue, is beyond my comprehension. And I’ve yet to hear a reasonable explanation as to why,” said Stewart, who also blasted lawmakers for failing to attend Tuesday’s hearing. “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me a nearly empty Congress.”
“Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak—to no one,” Stewart said of the first responders and their families who came to Washington for the hearing.
He called the lack of attendance by Congress members “shameful” and “an embarrassment to the country.”
Stewart concluded his statement to a standing ovation from 9/11 responders.
When Lila Nordstrom returned to Stuyvesant HS less than a month after 9/11, the fires at GroundZero were still burning. Now she has 9/11-related illnesses and knows too many classmates with cancer. She’s testifying at a Congressional hearing on the #VCF. @wcbs880 #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/EfdkAvtYAn
— Peter Haskell (@peterhaskell880) June 11, 2019
Lila Nordstrom, a student a Stuyvesant High School, returned to school after 9/11 while the fires were still burning and debris was scattered everywhere.
“It was a really scary time; and it was so scary, that it was even hard to think of the health consequences in that moment,” she said.
She testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday about her 9/11 health problems at the shocking number of 30-something year-olds with cancer.
This is going to be the room where it happens as 9/11 responders and survivors testify before Congress about the need to extend the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Comedian Jon Stewart, a passionate advocate will also testify. @wcbs880 #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/d27uiFXqRs
— Peter Haskell (@peterhaskell880) June 11, 2019
Retired FDNY Lieutenant Michael O’Connell also testified.
“My message is that I want the federal government to support the people that are still sick and dying,” O’Connell says.
Retired NYPD Detective Lou Alvarez, who has stage four colon cancer, said, “You all said you would never forget, well I’m here to make sure that you don’t.”
More than 20,000 people have been sickened with 9/11 related illnesses.
The House is expected to pass the bill.
Saturday’s planned #ImpeachTrump Day of Action has expanded greatly in the past week with over 100 events now set around the nation to call for House impeachment hearings against President Trump.
Organizers said that the number of events grew from 75 last week to 133 today.
Several groups are involved including Indivisible, MoveOn, By the People, and nearly 20 others.
Some of the events will be simple protests, and others will include the reading of pro-impeachment speeches from Democrats including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota Rep. Rashida Tlaib.
House Democratic leaders have skirted direct talk about impeachment, angering the progressive Left. The protests are aimed at giving the public a greater voice in the process, said organizers.
“Donald Trump has broken the law, violated the Constitution, and put the safety and future of the American people at risk. But by now, it is clear that Congress won’t act unless we demand it. We need to take to the streets in every neighborhood in America to defend democracy,” said Alexandra Flores-Quilty, a spokeswoman with By the People, in a statement.
Some liberal political analysts have warned against impeachment, claiming the party and its 2020 candidates would face a political backlash.
A map of events show that most will occur on the East and West coasts and in some Midwest college towns and big cities like Chicago.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Brushing back calls for impeachment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday “it’s not even close” to having enough support in the House, while Democrats pushed forward on other fronts to investigate President Donald Trump.
The House voted 229-191 to approve a resolution that will allow Democrats to accelerate their legal battles with the Trump administration over access to information from the Russia investigation.
At the same time, they’re convening hearings this week on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in an effort to boost public interest in the findings of the Trump-Russia probe while digging into a legal strategy aimed at forcing Attorney General William Barr, former White House counsel Don McGahn and others into compliance with congressional oversight.
“We need answers to the questions left unanswered by the Mueller report,” Pelosi said on the House floor ahead of voting.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy countered that the Democratic maneuvers are all “just a desperate attempt to relitigate the Mueller investigation.” He called it “an impeachment effort in everything but name.”
Earlier in the day, Pelosi all but ignored questions about impeachment during a policy conference, saying the Democrats’ strategy is “legislating, investigating, litigating” — in that order.
Pressed about Trump, she said: “I’m done with him. I don’t even want to talk about him.”
The House’s far-reaching resolution approved Tuesday empowers committee chairs to sue top Trump administration officials to force compliance with congressional subpoenas, including those for Mueller’s full report and his underlying evidence. They now no longer need a vote of the full House.
The Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, urged his colleagues to support the legislation “so we can get into court and break the stonewall without delay.”
After the vote, Nadler said he would go to court “as quickly as possible” against McGahn, who at the behest of the White House has defied subpoenas for documents and his testimony.
The chairman also said he is prepared to go to court to enforce subpoenas against former White House communications director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, a former McGahn aide, if they don’t show up for scheduled interviews this month.
And Nadler added new names to the list, saying he is also interested in hearing from Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt, who served as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff, and former White House aide Rick Dearborn. Both are mentioned frequently in the Mueller report.
“Either work with us and comply with subpoenas or we’ll see you in court,” said Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., the chairman of the Rules Committee.
House leaders have signaled they will hold off on suing Barr, for now, after the committee struck a deal with the Justice Department to receive some underlying materials from Mueller’s report. Nadler has called these some of Mueller’s “most important files” and said all members of the committee will be able to view them. They include redacted portions of the report pertaining to obstruction of justice. Some staff have already started viewing the files.
However, Nadler said the committee will likely sue for access to the report’s secret grand jury information.
The chairmen of several oversight committees said after the vote that Tuesday’s action extends beyond the Russia investigation into other aspects of Trump’s administration, including their subpoena for the president’s tax returns.
“This is not just about Russia, this is a broad, coordinated campaign to stall more investigations across the board,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the chairman of the Oversight Committee. “We are here in a fight for the soul of our democracy and we will use every single tool that is available to us to hold this administration accountable.”
It’s not clear if that will be enough, though, for the dozens of House Democrats who say it’s beyond time to start impeachment proceedings.
Pelosi has resisted those efforts so far, preferring to build the case in the courts, and in the court of public opinion.
The No. 2 Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, downplayed the tensions, saying Tuesday he doesn’t get the impression the caucus is “embroiled by this issue and divided by this issue. We have differences of opinion, but I don’t think that we are divided.”
The ramped-up actions this week are intended to mollify some of the impatient members, while also seeking to deepen the public’s understanding of Mueller’s findings.
Mueller wrote in his 448-page report released last month that there was not enough evidence to establish that there was a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, but he also said he could not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice. The report examined several episodes in which Trump attempted to influence or curtail Mueller’s investigation.
On Monday, the Judiciary panel heard testimony from John Dean, a White House counsel under Richard Nixon who helped bring down his presidency. Dean testified that Mueller has provided Congress with a “road map” for investigating Trump.
The focus on Mueller will continue Wednesday, when the House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to review the counterintelligence implications of Russia’s election interference, as detailed in Mueller’s report. The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Also Wednesday, the Oversight Committee will consider new contempt citations against Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over the administration’s pursuit of citizenship questions on the U.S. Census.
Republicans have criticized the hearings as a waste of time and have called for Democrats to move on.
Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.
The 229-191 vote broke down strictly along partisan lines with no defectors from either party, highlighting the entrenched divisions on Capitol Hill between Democrats accusing Trump of conducting a “cover-up” related to Mueller’s findings, and Republicans fighting to protect their White House ally from what they consider a political “witch hunt” heading into 2020.
The resolution empowers the House Judiciary Committee to go before a federal court in seeking the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) compliance with subpoenas for disputed materials and witness testimony. Two figures are named explicitly in the text: Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrAmash exits House Freedom Caucus in wake of Trump impeachment stance Tensions between Democrats, Justice cool for a day Tensions between Democrats, Justice cool for a day MORE, who has refused to release some parts of Mueller’s report and the underlying documents; and Don McGhan, the former White House counsel who has defied a Democratic subpoena to appear before the committee.
But in a late-debate twist, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerWatergate figure John Dean earns laughter for responses to GOP lawmakers The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by MAPRx – Nadler gets breakthrough deal with DOJ on Mueller docs The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by MAPRx – Nadler gets breakthrough deal with DOJ on Mueller docs MORE (D-N.Y.) announced Monday that he’s reached a deal with DOJ officials to access “Mueller’s most important files.”
The surprise 11th-hour agreement has tempered some of the long-running tensions between Democrats and the administration. And leading up to the vote on Tuesday, Democratic leaders simultaneously hailed the resolution as a necessary and aggressive expansion of their constitutional oversight powers, while also suggesting they might not ever need to use it.
“The timeline will, in part, depend on whether the DOJ continues to cooperate with our legitimate Article I powers of oversight and investigation,” said Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesSteyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment Steyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment Trump’s border aid request stalls amid fresh obstacles MORE (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus.
“If they continue to cooperate with us, I would expect that we will not race to the courthouse.”
“Seems to me that Mr. McGahn is in a particularly vulnerable situation as a private citizen,” Jeffries said. “He should either begin to cooperate immediately, or face the consequences.”
The vote comes as a growing number of liberal Democrats are endorsing the launch of an impeachment inquiry targeting Trump — a move opposed by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFeehery: Pelosi’s dangerous impeachment game Feehery: Pelosi’s dangerous impeachment game Press: How ‘Nervous Nancy’ trumped Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and other top Democrats, who have political concerns about taking such a drastic step without a greater show of public support.
“There is nothing as divisive in our country, in my view, than impeachment,” Pelosi said Tuesday during an event in Washington, delivering a familiar refrain.
At least 56 rank-and-file lawmakers are backing impeachment, according to a tally kept by The Hill, and Pelosi is under growing pressure to show that her preferred strategy of aggressive investigations is getting results.
The language adopted by Democrats in describing Tuesday’s resolution hints at the eagerness of top Democrats to project an image of going tough on the scandal-plagued administration, even as they’re opting against even sterner legal measures at their disposal.
Indeed, Democratic leaders are labeling the resolution one of “civil contempt.” But the measure makes no mention of contempt. And the language is much softer than another resolution, passed through the Judiciary panel last month, to hold Barr and McGahn in criminal contempt of Congress — a step that carries steep penalties, including heavy fines and up to a year in prison.
“We’re calling it contempt, for short, because the courts obviously would have to find the executive branch in contempt in order to, sort of, render the orders to comply,” said Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinOvernight Health Care: Biden infuriates abortion-rights groups with stance on Hyde Amendment | Trump tightens restrictions on fetal tissue research | Democrats plan event to scrutinize Trump’s mental health Overnight Health Care: Biden infuriates abortion-rights groups with stance on Hyde Amendment | Trump tightens restrictions on fetal tissue research | Democrats plan event to scrutinize Trump’s mental health House Democrats plan event to scrutinize Trump’s mental health MORE (D-Md.), a member of the Judiciary Committee and former constitutional law professor.
“So it’s, generally speaking, not contempt.”
There is some disagreement among the Democrats as to why they didn’t pursue the criminal contempt resolution. Jeffries and Nadler both cited the DOJ’s recent decision to share more Mueller files as the reason they softened their position.
“We began to see yesterday, in the face of the possibility of either a criminal contempt citation, or proceeding with inherent contempt, that they began to see things differently all of a sudden,” Jeffries said.
House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse Democrats pull legislation that would give lawmakers raise House Democrats pull legislation that would give lawmakers raise This week: House Democrats escalate battle over Mueller report MORE (D-Md.) suggested the decision was rooted in more practical considerations, noting the unlikelihood of DOJ attorneys prosecuting the head of the agency.
“I understand contempt is not in the resolution — it’s essentially civil contempt —and … it authorizes the committee to go to … have the courts enforce the subpoena,” Hoyer said Tuesday. “We think that’s a much more productive route than pretending that a U.S. attorney appointed by Donald Trump is going to pursue the attorney general — his boss — for contempt.”
Separately, Democrats are still negotiating for the testimony of Mueller, who had indicated last month that he’d prefer not to appear before Congress to discuss his findings. Nadler has taken the lead on those talks, but has declined to give updates on their status.
The drawn-out timeline has frustrated a growing number of lawmakers, who want the special counsel to clarify a host of questions still lingering around his report, particularly his reason for not recommending obstruction charges against the president.
“That is the view of the overwhelming majority of the House Democratic Caucus,” Jeffries said. “Bob Mueller has a duty to the American people to bring those conclusions to light in public testimony before the United States Congress.”