Fix Bayonets! House Dems Countercharge

Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the 20th Maine Regiment on Little Round Top, July 2, 1863. Painting by Mort Künstler.

In a single day, House Democrats demanded President Donald Trump’s tax returns for six years, moved to get a decade’s worth of his financial records and prepared to issue a subpoena for the full Mueller report from the Justice Department.

Top House Democratic lawmakers and aides say the triple-headed attack was more by accident than design, but it’s also clear that April 3 marks a turning point for the new Democratic majority. In less than eight hours, House Democrats moved to an all-out investigative assault on Trump, one that the White House and Republican leaders blasted as unnecessary, openly partisan and a huge distraction from the country’s business. [Politico]

Am I enjoying this? You betcha. Anyway, since when did the current Republican Party give a hoo-haw about the “country’s business”?

The House also passed a resolution to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen. The Senate passed the resolution last month. Trump says he will veto it. But I wonder if Trump’s veto could be challenged in court.

The Yemen resolution invokes the War Powers Resolution of 1973 (WPR), which gives Congress the power to direct a president to remove troops involved in “hostilities” abroad if there has been no formal “declaration of war or specific statutory authorization” from Congress.

Not only does it serve as a censure of Saudi’s conduct in the war, it’s also a clear check on executive power; if the US wants to be involved in a war in Yemen, Congress has to declare it. The Republican-led Senate passed the resolution in March, and it now heads to Trump’s desk. The White House says the president plans to veto it.

It seems to me that if Trump continues to use U.S. military resources in the war in Yemen without the support of Congress, he is in violation of the Constitution. Not that he gives a hoo-haw about the Constitution.

But speaking of courts — the enemy has not been idle. See Dana Milbank, “Mitch McConnell undid 213 years of Senate history in 33 minutes.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in his latest move to seize power by dismantling the chamber’s centuries-old safeguards, was about to push through another vote to break another rule. But first he gave a speech blaming the other side.

“The Democratic leader started all of this,” McConnell proclaimed, his face blotchy red with anger.

Pointing at the Democratic leader, Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), McConnell added: “He started this whole thing.”

If that weren’t preschoolish enough, the once-distinguished gentleman from Kentucky said a third time: “He started it! That was a sad day. This is a glad day.”

Schumer just smiled and shook his head.

Actually, Vice President Aaron Burr started “it” — the Senate tradition of unlimited debate, that is. That tradition has prevailed, more or less, in the Senate since 1806. Over that time, senators had the right to delay votes on presidential nominees they found objectionable. But McConnell undid 213 years of history in 33 minutes on Wednesday afternoon, holding a party-line vote to rewrite the rules of debate.

The gloves are off. If Dems are ever again in control of both houses of Congress, watch them end the Senate filibuster, ban gerrymandering nationwide, and institute all kinds of judicial and election reforms.

Back to the tax returns — as I understand it, the IRS has no choice but to comply with the request from the Ways and Means Committee. The law is unambiguous. Paul Waldman:

Trump himself doesn’t have to hand over anything; the demand is made directly to the IRS, which, under the law, has no choice but to produce the returns. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will apparently instruct the IRS to refuse, under the legal doctrine known as “The law doesn’t apply to Donald Trump.”

The House of Representatives will then sue to compel the IRS to comply with the law, and the IRS will lose in court, until the case reaches the Supreme Court. In any sane world Trump would lose there on a 9-to-0 decision, but there’s no way to tell how the conservative justices will rule.

Even after the Ways and Means Committee gets the returns, it’s going to take a long time to sort through them and make sense of the tangle of LLCs and other business elements carefully put together to create maximum opaqueness. But at least, and at last, we’re seeing Democrats bringing guns to the gunfight.

By now you’ve heard there’s been grumbling from Mueller’s team that the Barr summary was, um, not the whole story. Trump’s toadies are even now redacting anything the least bit incriminating to Trump. I have to hope that somehow, some day, the entire thing will be leaked. And if there’s even a hint that Trump or his “associates” are helping out with the redacting, that’s an impeachable offense.

Speaking of impeachable offenses, let’s talk about White House security. It’s a mess. In a sane world, Trump’s playing fast and loose with security clearances would be a bigger scandal than Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s emails and Obama’s beige suit and Monica Lewinsky and possibly even Teapot Dome put together. I trust the House Intelligence Committee will investigate.

12 thoughts on “Fix Bayonets! House Dems Countercharge

  1. I think we've all been waiting for years for a day like this to arrive. Each time I open the news, I'm amazed at how the charge is proceeding, on multiple fronts.

    On the downside, I recall Newt Gingrich saying (forgot in response to exactly what), "now we're going to find out if our investment in Brett Kavanaugh paid off".

    This is after all what gets Mitch McConnell up everyday: to stuff as many conservative dimwits onto the courts as he can, while he can still draw a breath.

  2. Spy a lago

    Whitehouse staff. A lago

    Trump puts money in his pocket to sell not only influence but state secrets as well.

    Bar thinks uninfected witnesses should have their privacy and reputation protected. Who in the hell cared about Monica Lewinski's privacy or reputation?

    Fuck the republican hypocrit party in hell.

  3. Considering the Brits are all bound up with Brexit, and can't even help themselves I guess we have to find our own boot straps. Can't count on a mother country that can't even help herself.   Continuing to follow our failing leaders who employ  the worst and the dumbest is showing little promise.  This is a good sign I hope.  No path will be easy.

    I learned from the apprentice that turning a cramped three bedroom into a spacious livable  two bedroom gets you fired,  Now I learn that windmills in the area decrease real estate value and up community mental health costs.  This is not inspirational leadership.  This is not even tolerable leadership.  We need solutions real problems, or at least a reasonable approach, and we do not need imaginary problems and incompetent leadership.  The time for asking is over. 

  4. Am I enjoying this? You betcha.

    Yeah, but not as much as I am.  smiley   

       The bigger they are, the harder they fall?

  5. I personally think the Dems, should they get a 2/3 majority in the Senate, must impeach all persons installed under these rules, including Gorsuch (delay of Obama's appointment) and Kavanaugh (convict him of the 80+ impeachable offenses noted in his confirmation) for cause, and start all over again from scratch.

  6. The firm that has done Trump's taxes told the House they are willing to comply with a friendly subpoena.  If true, the Treasury won't be able to block the information, though I'm not sure how the House might need 'official' returns in order to take action. 

    Barr might have benign intentions, but the signals are that he's using a black felt tip pen to execute a whitewash. If he does, I hope the DOJ prosecutes Barr for Obstruction if there's even one redacted line in the Mueller report that there was no excuse to withhold. Barr should be bending over backward to get as much of the raw data to Congress as he can – they are a co-equal branch of government. Even the classified information can be delivered to secure locations where those pages can be read (but not copied.)

    If there's no way to destroy every copy of the Mueller report and execute every member of the Mueller team, the truth will out – though it may be 2021 before a new A/G reverses any classification Barr imposes on the report. Trump will be fair game for prosecution after he's a citizen.

    Trump and the GOP are developing a weak defense. They are claiming it's all partisan while at the same time they are stonewalling Congress and the American public. Not releasing information while claiming there's nothing damaging in the stuff they are suppressing smells like three-day-old road kill. 

    A conversation I had with a conservative who doesn't like any of the Democrats running for president was telling. He said if he went out on a boat with Trump, "only one of us would come back."  I'm not sure when it will show in the polls but the Trump mystique is wearing thin.

  7. Delivered along with the Mueller report were summaries written by his staff, tailored for the consumption of Congress and the various committees.  They were written, supposedly, in such a way that classified information was removed while not leaving out the intent of their findings.  Findings that run counter to the impression Barr gave with his own "summary."

    Given that, if Barr didn't want to straightaway make the entire report public, he could have just provided Congress with the summaries written for them by Mueller's team.  This is why anything Barr says he's doing with the report to redact information to protect privacy, grand jury and classified information before its provided to congress is suspect and the work product of his efforts cannot be trusted.  Democrats need to proceed on the assumption that in Barr they are not dealing with an Attorney General as much as they are another crazed Trump partisan working hard at becoming yet another co-conspirator in an ever widening obstruction scheme.

    The democrats should follow up the subpoenas issued for Trump's taxes, financial records and the Mueller report itself with requests (I don't think they'll need subpoenas) to Mueller's staff prosecutors involved with the writing of the report and the summaries to testify publicly before the appropriate house committees.  And then subpoena Bill Bar and ask him under oath to explain why he lied.

  8. Let's be serious.

    The investigation of Nixon by Democrats in Congress was political.

    The investigation of Reagan by Democrats in Congress was political.

    The investigation of Bill Clinton by the GOP in Congress was political. 

    Investigations by the GOP of HRC over Benghazi were political.

    The investigations of Trump by Democrats are political.

    Pretending that politically motivated investigations are something the Democrats just invented is a joke. The results of the investigations were fairly accurate and objective. Nixon was guilty. Reagan was implicated but they were unable to prove he knew (Iran-Contra.) Bill was guilty of a misdemeanor BJ and felony stupidity. No cover-up by HRC was proven and the GOP never let up.  What Trump did and what can be proven is still an open question but previous presidents submitted to oversight. None of them liked it.

    (HRC was never president – the investigations were a pre-emptive strike and still relevant for that reason.)

    Pretending that Democrats must prove virginal pure intentions before they can investigate Trump is a farce. We need to call it that – so does the media.

  9. Pingback: Warren Goes There | The Mahablog

  10. In America: tRUMP.                                                                                          tRUMP – with the whole Republican Party marching along in "lemming-step" – is tearing this country apart.

    In England: Brexit.                                                                                            Brexit – a conservative effort to stop progress  – is tearing England, Ireland, and Scotland apart. 

    Could there be anything or anyone in common between tRUMP and Brexit? 


    YES, there is!  Rupert "Murderoch" (to varying degrees) is behind both efforts!

    Money and power have always ruled Murderoch.  And there's boatload's of both to be made by dividing people.  Profits top humans!

    On the plus side:  Rupert will be dead soon! ??

    On the minus side:  The son who is supposed to replace his sociopath father, is also supposed to be even worse than his "Dah"! 




  11. The only people I know of who concern themselves with other people's finances are thieves looking for something to steal.

    "If the right to vote were expanded to seven year olds … its policies would most definitely reflect the ‘legitimate concerns’ of children to have ‘adequate’ and ‘equal’ access to ‘free’ french fries, lemonade and videos." ~ Hans-Hermann Hoppe

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