Obstruction of justice in plain sight: a completely lawless Trump administration


The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday broadened its investigation into President Donald Trump and his possible obstruction of justice, authorizing subpoenas for a “Dirty Dozen” of witnesses. House panel authorizes subpoenas for Jared Kushner, Trump officials:

The committee also authorized subpoenas to current and former Trump administration officials related to the “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that led to the separation last year of migrant families who crossed the southern border illegally.

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The vote was approved on party lines, 21-12.

Thursday’s dual subpoena authorizations signal the Judiciary Committee is ratcheting up its probes into the Trump administration ahead of the panel’s high-profile hearing next week with former special counsel Robert Mueller.

With the 12 subpoenas Thursday, the committee has now authorized subpoenas to 17 individuals in total. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has issued subpoenas to three of those officials, along with subpoenas to the Justice Department for the full Mueller report and to Mueller himself to compel the special counsel’s appearance next week.

At Thursday’s vote, Mueller’s testimony loomed over the proceedings. Many of the officials on the subpoena list are featured prominently in the special counsel’s report, and Democrats say they need to speak to them as they debate whether to begin an impeachment inquiry.

Of course, none of the “Dirty Dozen” are going to comply with their congressional subpoena at the direction of the Trump administration’s policy of “total obstruction” of Congress (an impeachable offense from the Nixon impeachment). This will force Congress to pursue legal remedies, leading to delays in court and running out the clock, which is the Trump legal strategy.

Even when a witness does appear, the witness is uncooperative and asserts bogus defenses  at the direction of the White House in failing to answer questions, e.g., Hope Hicks, and Annie Donaldson. White House blocks key Mueller witness from answering more than 200 questions from House investigators:

House Democrats’ hopes of making Annie Donaldson, the former chief of staff to ex-White House counsel Donald McGahn, a star witness in their investigations of President Trump were dashed as White House lawyers blocked her from answering more than 200 questions about potential obstruction of justice by the president.

Donaldson affirmed the accuracy of colorful and striking notes she made while working in the White House — notes that former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III cited 65 times in his report that described 10 episodes that raised concerns about possible obstruction.

But Trump administration lawyers barred her from elaborating on her thinking at the time she captured several exchanges between Trump and her boss — including one note in which she scribbled concern that Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as FBI director would trigger the end of his presidency.

In total, the White House blocked Donaldson from answering 212 questions, according to her written answers. The committee received them this past weekend and released them on Monday.

Donaldson had a unique role in the White House, witnessing firsthand Trump’s interactions with White House lawyers as he lashed out at the Russia investigation. Yet Donaldson would answer questions only in writing. And while she did confirm many of the findings in the 448-page, redacted Mueller report, she didn’t answer many — if any — of the major questions Democrats hoped she would.

Then there is Trump business associate, Felix Sater. After hours of testimony, House panel presses ex-Trump partner for more detail on Moscow project:

President Trump’s former business associate Felix Sater clashed with congressional investigators Tuesday after refusing to address whether he knew that the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, planned to lie under oath about a failed Trump Tower project in Moscow.

Sater met privately with House Intelligence Committee staffers investigating interference in the 2016 presidential election and questions surrounding Trump’s business interests in Russia in 2016. At issue is Cohen’s false testimony before the same committee in 2017 and whether Trump was compromised by his organization’s effort to build in Moscow.

When pressed Tuesday to provide information about his knowledge of Cohen’s testimony, Sater at one point cited lawyer-client privilege and declined to respond, according to accounts of the exchange described by Sater’s attorney and a spokesman for the committee.

In an unusually harsh public statement, the committee’s spokesman, Patrick Boland, said that Sater asserted a “baseless” claim of attorney-client privilege and that the committee would continue to pursue documents and testimony from him.

* * *

Sater appeared Tuesday under a subpoena issued after he failed to show up for a scheduled interview last month. He blamed his no-show on unspecified health complications and stressed that he was willing to appear before the panel voluntarily, pledging to “answer every question.”

Boland said Sater has not fully cooperated and will remain under subpoena “until he does so.”

More troubling is the open defiance of a lawful congressional subpoena by Trump’s new Roy Cohn, his new fixer William “Coverup” Barr. Justice Department Warns Mueller Deputies: Don’t Testify Before Congress:

The Department of Justice is placing pressure on Robert Mueller’s deputies to refuse invitations to testify before Congress, The New York Times reports. The newspaper’s sources said the DOJ had told two former members of Mueller’s team, Aaron Zebley and James Quarles, not to give evidence in front of lawmakers. The move could jeopardize an agreement that lawmakers thought they had struck to hear testimonies from Mueller and the two prosecutors.

As The New York Times reports, former special counsel’s office attorneys Aaron Zebley and James Quarles have already reached an agreement to testify before the same two committees as Mueller.

Zebley and Quarles have left the Justice Department and, as private citizens, can’t be blocked from giving testimony by the department, but they may fear repercussions if they do.

This follows William “Coverup” Barr suggesting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller could refuse to comply with the congressional subpoena with the DOJ’s support. Attorney General Barr would rather not have Mueller explaining what his report actually says. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff accused Attorney General William Barr of trying to “discourage” former Special Counsel Robert Mueller from testifying to Congress next week, or otherwise cooperating. Schiff Says Barr’s Trying to Discourage Mueller From Testifying. “He is nothing if not transparent. And he is transparently the president’s agent and doing the president’s bidding — which is trying to discourage Mueller from cooperating.”

William “Coverup” Barr is himself in defiance of a lawful congressional subpoena for which he should be prosecuted, and eventually disbarred. Dems to pursue criminal contempt for William Barr, Wilbur Ross over census:

House Democratic leaders plan to move forward with criminal contempt proceedings against Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for defying congressional subpoenas for documents related to the 2020 census[.]

Being held in contempt by Congress will be an embarrassment for the Trump administration officials but it won’t lead to many tangible consequences.

The Justice Department is almost certainly not going to charge the attorney general or another cabinet secretary with a crime. [Direct obstruction of Congress.]

In fact, DOJ has urged officials not to comply with the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoenas, which seek information related to the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. [Indirect obstruction of Congress.]

Last month, the committee formally reported its contempt report for Barr and Ross to the full House, citing them for both criminal and civil contempt after the Democrat-led panel voted to authorize the actions.

William “Coverup” Barr’s Department of Justice, now reduced to Trump’s personal law firm under his corrupt management, asks the appeals court to block Democrats’ Emoluments Clause lawsuit against Trump:

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday asked a federal appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Democratic lawmakers alleging President Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

In a filing to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Department attorneys asked the higher court to either dismiss the lawsuit or review a district judge’s rulings allowing the lawsuit to advance. They also asked that the appeals court halt lower court proceedings in the lawsuit while it considers this latest request.

District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled last month that the lawsuit can advance, rejecting the administration’s request that he allow the appeals court to review his prior orders in favor of the lawsuit.

* * *

The DOJ’s filing to the appeals court on Monday reiterates the lawyers’ past arguments that the lawmakers don’t have the authority to sue the president.

Sullivan has previously ruled that members of Congress could sue over Trump’s alleged violation of the Emoluments Clause.

He wrote in a ruling earlier this year that the lawmakers are alleging ”that they have been deprived of the right to vote to consent to the President’s receipt of foreign Emoluments before he accepts them.”

Unfortunately, William “Coverup” Barr’s Department of Justice succeeded in convincing a court yesterday to dismiss the emoluments clause case in a separate action brought by the District of Columbia and Maryland. Appeals court dismisses emoluments lawsuit involving Trump’s D.C. hotel:

A federal appeals court Wednesday sided with President Trump, dismissing a lawsuit claiming the president is illegally profiting from foreign and state government visitors at his luxury hotel in downtown Washington.

The unanimous ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is a victory for the president in a novel case brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia involving anti-corruption provisions in the emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

In its ruling, the three-judge panel said the attorneys general lacked legal standing to bring the lawsuit alleging the president is violating the Constitution when his business accepts payments from state and foreign governments. The decision — from Judges Paul V. Niemeyer, Dennis W. Shedd and A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. — also stops dozens of subpoenas to federal government agencies and Trump’s private business entities demanding financial records related to the D.C. hotel.

“The District and Maryland’s interest in enforcing the Emoluments Clauses is so attenuated and abstract that their prosecution of this case readily provokes the question of whether this action against the President is an appropriate use of the courts, which were created to resolve real cases and controversies between the parties,” Niemeyer wrote in the 36-page opinion.

By dismissing this case on a preliminary question of standing, the court never reached a decision on the merits of the case.

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine, both Democrats, said in a joint statement after the ruling that the three-judge panel “got it wrong.”

“Although the court described a litany of ways in which this case is unique, it failed to acknowledge the most extraordinary circumstance of all: President Trump is brazenly profiting from the Office of the President in ways that no other President in history ever imagined and that the founders expressly sought — in the Constitution — to prohibit,” they said.

“We will continue to pursue our legal options to hold him accountable.”

The three judges on the panel that heard oral argument in March were nominated to the bench by Republican presidents — Niemeyer by President George H.W. Bush, Shedd by President George W. Bush and Quattlebaum by Trump.

Finally, William “Coverup” Barr, on Tuesday recused himself from Jeffrey Epstein’s child sex trafficking case because his former law firm once represented the convicted pedophile. Barr recuses himself from Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case.

But less than 24 hours later, Barr said he will not recuse himself from involvement in the new charges filed against alleged sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein by federal prosecutors in New York, according to a Justice Department official. Barr Won’t Recuse Himself From New Case Against Jeffrey Epstein. “But Barr has recused himself from any retrospective review of the Justice Department’s decision more than a decade ago letting Epstein avoid prosecution on federal sex-trafficking offenses in Florida and the decades of prison time that he could have faced if convicted.”

This is just legal sophistry that makes absolutely no sense. The non-prosecution agreement that Jeffrey Epstein got from Alex Acosta in Florida is central to his defense in the case brought by SDNY. Barr cannot possibly parse these two cases. He wants to intervene.

This is reminiscent of Donald Trump asking Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to “un-recuse” himself in the Russia investigation so that he could directly intervene in Robert Mueller’s investigation to obstruct justice. There is no such thing as “un-recusal.”

I haven’t yet seen any reporting on this, but I strongly suspect that Trump asked his new Roy Cohn to “un-recuse” himself in this investigation because Trump’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein suggests that he has something to hide, and Barr agreed to do what Sessions would not.

William “Coverup” Barr is easily the most unethical and corrupt attorney general since John Mitchell, and he went to prison. Barr is destroying the reputation and credibility of the Department of Justice all in service to Donald Trump’s quest to destroy the rule of law in America.