Article II of the Articles of Impeachment approved by the House of Representatives against Donald John Trump includes the following:
The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and that the President “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”. In his conduct of the office of President of the United States — and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed — Donald J. Trump has directed the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives pursuant to its “sole Power of Impeachment”…Impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States
With Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s acting chief of staff, and John Bolton, the president’s former national security advisor — and likely several more, including Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney — apparently possessing documents and knowledge of the allegations which led to the impeachment of the president, it seems reasonable that Congress would consider a subpoena for their testimony.
A May 12, 2017 report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Congress’s Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure, provides that:
Congress’s contempt power is the means by which Congress responds to certain acts that in its view obstruct the legislative process. Contempt may be used either to coerce compliance, to punish the contemnor, and/or to remove the obstruction.
However, as usual, things aren’t always as simple as they might otherwise seem. Further from the CRS report:
A number of obstacles face Congress in any attempt to enforce a subpoena issued against an executive branch official. Although the courts have reaffirmed Congress’s constitutional authority to issue and enforce subpoenas, efforts to punish an executive branch official for non-compliance with a subpoena through criminal contempt will likely prove unavailing in many, if not most, circumstances. Where the official refuses to disclose information pursuant to the President’s decision that such information is protected under executive privilege, past practice suggests that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will not pursue a prosecution for criminal contempt.
So, there you have it. Attorney General Bill Barr, who is in charge of the Department of Justice, would be the person to determine whether a criminal contempt charge would be prosecuted. I think we all know how that would turn out.
The blacks in the South are entitled to be well and humanely governed, and to have the protection of just laws for all their rights of person and property. If it were practicable at this time to give them a Government exclusively their own, under which they might manage their own affairs in their own way, it would become a grave question whether we ought to do so, or whether common humanity would not require us to save them from themselves. But under the circumstances this is only a speculative point. It is not proposed merely that they shall govern themselves, but that they shall rule the white race, make and administer State laws, elect Presidents and members of Congress, and shape to a greater or less extent the future destiny of the whole country. Would such a trust and power be safe in such hands?
I’m currently reading and enjoying “The Impeachers”, a brilliant and well-researched volume by Brenda Wineapple. The similarities between Johnson’s impeachment and the current calls for the impeachment of Donald J. Trump are eerily similar. After reading Wineapple’s book, I might hesitate the next time I think Trump is the worst president in the history of the United States.
Over the next few posts, I’ll share some of the other outrageous and misguided sections of Johnson’s diatribe.