Tag Archives: Jerrold Nadler

Mueller wants to talk … in private

U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler made news last night by revealing that special counsel Robert Mueller wants to talk to the committee, but in private, behind closed doors, no media, no cameras, no members of the public.

My first reaction was to say, “Hold on! You need to talk to us, Mr. Special Counsel, about how you concluded that the president of the United States didn’t conspire to collude with Russians who attacked our electoral system and how you couldn’t ‘exonerate’ him of obstruction of justice.”

Then I thought about it.

Mueller, a former FBI director and a man known to be a serious lawyer of the highest integrity, said he doesn’t want to star in a media spectacle. He wants to be able to talk candidly with the House panel, which will release a full — and I presume unredacted — transcript of his testimony.

In my version of worldly perfection, I want Mueller to sit before the nation and talk to us directly. I also know I cannot dictate how these things should be handled.

I barely can remember what Mueller’s voice sounds like, it’s been so long since he’s been heard in public. During the 22 months he probed the issue of collusion with the Russian election hackers, he remained steadfast in his silence. Meanwhile, Donald Trump was all over the place, proclaiming the investigation to be nothing but a “witch hunt” led by “18 angry Democrats.” Trump has continued to make a total ass of himself, but Mueller has kept his silence — mostly.

He did write that letter complaining about the way Attorney General William Barr described the nature of Mueller’s findings.

I want to respect Mueller’s intention to stay out of the political spotlight. Lord knows committee members from both parties would do their share of posturing and pontificating once the TV cameras clicked on. Mueller sounds as if he wants no part of that charade.

If the Judiciary chairman is correct and Mueller agrees to talk to the committee in private, then my sincere hope is that we’ll be able to see the complete transcript immediately.

That is, unless Mueller changes his mind and decides to talk openly in front of the nation that has paid a hefty price for a serious investigation into whether the president is a crook.

What does ‘contempt of Congress’ really mean?

I have to acknowledge that I do not have a clue what lawmakers are going to do to enforce a recommended contempt of Congress citation against Attorney General William Barr.

The House Judiciary Committee issued the recommendation this week; the full House will have to vote on it. What happens then?

A contempt of Congress citation doesn’t have the same legal impact as a contempt of court citation. If someone defies a judge or doesn’t show up to, say, testify in a court proceeding, there are legal remedies at the court’s disposal. The judge can issue a warrant for the arrest of that individual.

What can Congress do to enforce what is in effect a political argument? Does it have the authority to arrest the attorney general? Does it go to court to settle it once and for all?

My sense is that the House Judiciary Committee is setting the table for a monstrous political battle royale between the legislative and executive branches of government. Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler is stone-faced and grim as he discusses this matter. He accuses Barr — likely at Donald Trump’s insistence — of usurping Congress’s constitutional authority to conduct oversight of the executive branch.

Nadler is having none of that. But . . . what about his Republican colleagues? They appear ready to cede their own power to the chief executive, who is instructing his White House staff to ignore every single demand placed on them by Congress.

A contempt of Congress citation could turn into a battle for the soul of our government. Or, as it did in 2012 when congressional Republicans cited AG Eric Holder for contempt over the “fast and furious” gun-sale program, it could sputter and fizzle into oblivion.

My sense is that Jerrold Nadler — with the backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — is getting ready to rumble.

Chairman Nadler: We are in a constitutional crisis

I believe I will stand with U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who today declared that the United States of America has become ensnared in a “constitutional crisis.”

Is it worse than, say, the crisis that led to President Clinton’s impeachment in 1999? Or worse than the Watergate matter that came within one House vote of impeaching President Nixon, before the president resigned in 1974?

I do not know how bad this has gotten.

However, I believe Chairman Nadler is correct. We are in a crisis of a highly serious nature. The Judiciary Committee had just voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress before Nadler made his “constitutional crisis” declaration.

Donald John Trump has stuck it in the ear of Congress, invoking “executive privilege” and denying lawmakers access to anything — or anyone — involved in matters relating to The Russia Thing.

The president is suggesting Congress has no power to carry out its constitutional duties. Attorney General William Barr has refused to release the complete and unredacted report filed by special counsel Robert Mueller — and has refused to testify before Nadler’s committee.

The fight is on!

Where it goes remains anyone’s guess at this point. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to oppose immediate impeachment procedures against the president. Why? She knows the danger of impeaching the president, only to have him walk away with an acquittal in a Senate trial. Pelosi can count votes as well as — or better than — most members of Congress. I happen to concur with her view about the impossibility of an impeachment, at least at this juncture.

None of that lessens the dangerous territory into which the nation is heading, according to Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

House Democrats are furious. Trump is angry with them. It has become a monumental game of chicken between the two co-equal branches of government. Neither side is likely to blink.

The end game well could produce the ugliest battle any of us have ever witnessed.

I don’t know about you, but I do not yet have the stomach to witness it. The potential for permanent damage to our system of government is scaring me sh**less.

Let the power struggle commence … and play out

A power struggle between the legislative and the executive branches of the federal government is now in full swing.

I am going to side — no surprise here — with the legislative branch in its fight with the other guys.

Attorney General William Barr — quite likely with the full blessing of the president of the United States — has decided to be a no-show at today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing. The committee, controlled by Democrats, wants to know more about Barr’s receipt of the report filed in March by special counsel Robert Mueller III on the matter involving “collusion” and “obstruction of justice” with regard to the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russians.

Barr has the answers. He is not giving the House committee any of them.

The struggle involves whether the House controls the parameters of these hearings or whether the White House gets to choose which rules it will follow and which of them it will ignore.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler says the House is in charge. He says the White House cannot dictate how Congress does its job. He points out correctly that Article I of the U.S. Constitution lays out Congress’s exclusive power and declares that the legislative and executive branches are “co-equal,” meaning that neither branch is more powerful than the other.

Barr stayed away because he didn’t want to be quizzed by committee lawyers. Cry me a river, Mr. Attorney General.

The way I see it, that’s just too damn bad.

The House gets to call the shots here. Not the AG. Not the POTUS.

Barr’s appearance Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary panel raised many questions that House members want to flesh out, as if they didn’t have a full plate of questions already. One of those questions might be why Barr didn’t read the supporting evidence that Mueller provided in his full report before issuing his four-page summary of its findings.

We won’t hear from the AG, at least not yet. Nadler says he is considering whether to file a contempt of Congress citation against the attorney general.

He is allowed to do that, too. The Constitution gives the chairman that power.

The struggle is on.

Blocking testimony would be ‘obstruction’?

So, how is this supposed to play out?

Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, has emerged as the star witness in an upcoming House Judiciary Committee hearing that would examine whether Donald Trump obstructed justice during Robert Mueller’s tedious probe into alleged collusion with Russians who interfered in our 2016 presidential election.

But wait! The president is threatening to block McGahn’s testimony. He doesn’t want McGahn, who now is a private citizen, to speak to House lawmakers about what he knows. He won’t let him answer a couple of key questions: Did the president order him to fire Mueller? Did the president order staffers to lie about it?

Simple, yes? It sure is.

However, if the president succeeds in blocking McGahn from testifying under congressional subpoena, does that constitute an obstruction of justice?

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler thinks it well could be a case of obstruction.

Hmm. In that case, there might be an impeachable offense in the making.