Earlier this week the White House told a judge that the judiciary branch of the government has no right to rule on what the executive branch does. And now they’re telling Congress what they can and cannot do.
The White House’s top lawyer told the House Judiciary Committee chairman Wednesday that Congress has no right to a “do-over” of the special counsel’s investigation of President Trump and refused a broad demand for records and testimony from dozens of current and former White House staffers.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s letter to Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) constitutes a sweeping rejection — not just of Nadler’s request for White House records but of Congress’s standing to investigate Trump for possible obstruction of justice. In his letter, Cipollone repeated a claim the White House and Trump’s business have begun making — that Congress is not a law enforcement body and does not have a legitimate purpose to investigate the questions it is pursuing.
But Cipollone stopped short of asserting executive privilege. Instead, he told Nadler he would consider a narrowed request if the chairman spelled out the legislative purpose and legal support for the information he is seeking.
“Congressional investigations are intended to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation, not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized ‘do-over’ of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice,” Cipollone wrote.
In an interview, Nadler called the White House argument “preposterous.”
“The White House is making the outrageous claim that a president cannot be held accountable in any way to the American people,” he said, adding: “This is ridiculous, it would make the president above the law, and of course we totally reject it. We will subpoena whoever we have to subpoena.”
Do you remember what the “legislative purpose” was for investigating Bill Clinton’s sex life? Or the ten investigations of Benghazi? I must have been out that day.
Unless there’s some clause in the Constitution that’s been dormant since 1789 that says only the Republicans can investigate the peccadilloes or failed rescue missions of Democrats along with their stated duties of oversight, the law school where attorney Cipollone got his degree should have him back for his own “do-over” of federal case law study.
I get it that a lawyer has a duty to zealously defend his client in court and use every means and arguments available to ensure that he gets a fair hearing. But even I know that you can’t either make shit up or come up with some cockamamie interpretation of the Constitution to pull it off.