Hope Hicks showed up for a closed-door congressional hearing today and didn’t testify. She didn’t testify because White House counsel told her not to. Some of what she was asked could not have fallen under executive privilege, because it involved testimony she had already given Bob Mueller, but apparently she refused to answer.
We’ll get a transcript in a couple of days. But a couple of bobbleheads on MSNBC last night predicted this would happen, and said the Dems were stupid to allow closed-door hearings. I am inclined to agree. If she’s going to refuse to cooperate, let her do it in front of cameras. No more closed door hearings. No more polite requests. Subpoena their asses and put them in front of a camera.
And if they ignore subpoenas? Open an impeachment inquiry, Dems. Let them evade that.
Democrats had hoped to press Hicks on matters related to Trump’s alleged efforts to obstruct the Russian election interference investigation, including Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey and his anger at former attorney general Jeff Sessions, a longtime target of Trump’s rage over his refusal to protect him from the investigation.
But Democrats made little to no headway with Hicks. As The Post reports, the White House’s assertion of immunity “even extended to simple questions about where her office was located, according to lawmakers in the room.”
Democrats plan to go to court to force Hicks and others to testify, but legal experts say that could take months, possibly a couple of years.
Multiple legal experts have insisted that an impeachment inquiry might strengthen Democrats’ hands in these court battles. As Michael Stern, a former counsel to the House of Representatives, has argued, although Democrats currently have a good case to compel testimony, it would be even more “absurd” for the courts to rule that former White House aides “are somehow immune from testifying in an impeachment proceeding as fact witnesses to alleged high crimes and misdemeanors.”
What’s more, there’s at least a decent chance the courts would act more quickly in an impeachment inquiry context. “When information is sought solely for oversight purposes, it is difficult to convince judges that there is urgency in securing evidence,” Stern notes. “By contrast, there is a clear urgency to resolve impeachment matters.” Other experts agree that the courts could move more quickly.
As I understand it, Nancy Pelosi is terrified that an impeachment inquiry would backfire and hurt the Dems in the 2020 elections. But it seems to me that continuing to hold congressional closed door hearings that allow Trumpers to cry and whine about how they are being treated is more iffy than just showing the truth — or the open obstruction — to the American people. Open a bleeping impeachment inquiry and make all of it public, unless there is a specific question about national security.
Speaking of civility, Joe Biden managed to step in a steaming pile yesterday at a fundraiser with deep pocket donors at the Carlyle hotel in New York. After assuring his very wealthy audience —
Biden repeated his earlier remarks that he didn’t want to “demonize” the wealthy and added that, though “income inequality” is a problem that must be addressed, under his presidency, “no one’s standard of living will change, nothing will fundamentally change.” He went on: “I need you very badly. I hope if I win this nomination, I won’t let you down.”
.He then waxed nostalgic about the good ol’ days when most southern congress critters were Dixiecrats, white segregationist Democrats. He named James O. Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia, both blatant racists and white supremacists . As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Eastland blocked civil rights legislation until Senate leadership reined him in sometime in the 1960s. Talmadge was by all accounts a mean drunk as well as an ardent segregationist. Charming guys, right? But Biden went on about how they all got along and “got things done,” altough apparently not civil rights things.
Mr. Biden then recalled his time serving in the Senate. “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Mr. Biden said, briefly channeling the late Mississippi senator’s Southern drawl. Mr. Biden said of Mr. Eastland, “He never called me boy, he always called me son.”
Mr. Biden then brought up a deceased Georgia senator, “a guy like Herman Talmadge, one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list of all these guys. Well guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”
Well, of course, Eastland wouldn’t have called the very white Biden “boy.”
There was one woman in the Senate in 1972, when Biden was first elected, Margaret Chase Smith of Maine. There was one black senator, Edward Brooke III of Massachusetts. Did Eastland call Senator Brooke “boy”? I do not know. Did he call Senator Smith “gal”? If so, did these two have to swallow their pride and accept it? Did Biden notice?
That Biden was able to work with Eastland speaks, perhaps, to a certain aptitude at legislative negotiations on his part. But mostly it’s a product of what “we” meant in the context of the United States Senate in 1973. Eastland called him “son” and not “boy” because Biden was white, and for that same reason, they were able to put aside their differences and work together to fight, well, the desegregation of public schools via mandatory busing. As Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said Wednesday, working civilly with Eastland was a privilege reserved for white men.
Chalres Pierce points out that Biden managed to disrespect Joy-Ann Reid at a recent event. When she asked him about “getting along” with Mitch McConnell, he left his seat and literally got in her face. “Joy-Ann, I know you’re one of the ones who thinks it’s naive to think we have to work together,” Biden said. Well, “the ones” are most of us at this point. But I’m starting to question if Biden knows what century he’s living in.
And notice how it’s always those on the left/liberal side being hectored to be “civil”?
I would defer to Biden on civility if we had two reasonably standard responsible political parties. We do not. We have one political party and a kind of weird mind-controlled cult. Sometimes civility is approrpriate. Sometimes it isn’t. We’re in one of the latter situations.