House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., joined at right by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks about plans to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act which provides funding and grants for a variety of programs that tackle domestic abuse, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 7, 2019. Nadler, a key chairman in Pelosi’s Democratic majority, has sent 81 letters to President Donald Trump’s family and associates seeking documents and information to investigate possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Democrats have been trying to get testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn in regard to the Russia probe, subpoenaing him in April 2019.
The White House refused to have him testify, citing privilege.
Despite the Russia collusion theory being debunked by the Mueller report and McGahn talking at length to Mueller, thereby indicating there was noting there, they continued to try to have him testify, showing that it was all about a fishing expedition against the president to see what they could find.
The D.C. Circuit Court gave President Donald Trump a big win, reversing the lower court and refusing to order McGahn to respond to the subpoena.
Judge Thomas Griffith, who wrote the opinion, said that the Court shouldn’t be weaponized in a battle between the legislative and the executive branch.
From Free Beacon:
“If we throw ourselves into ‘a power contest nearly at the height of its political tension,’ we risk seeming less like neutral magistrates and more like pawns on politicians’ chess boards,” the decision reads. “In this case, the dangers of judicial involvement are particularly stark. Few cases could so concretely present a direct clash between the political branches.” [….]
“The committee’s suit asks us to settle a dispute that we have no authority to resolve,” the decision reads. “The Constitution does not vest federal courts with some ‘amorphous general supervision of the operations of government.’”
Griffith said if they agreed with the House, that Congress would then resort to it all the time, rather than trying to work out issues with the executive branch as they should.
Griffith also said that the House Democrats undermined their own arguments
For example, Griffith noted that House Democrats cited the administration’s litigating position in the McGahn case in support of the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress. That’s more evidence that Friday’s dispute is “a bitter political showdown” unfit for the courts, Griffith wrote.
Griffith also observed that the House issued subpoenas to Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross just one day after Jackson found the House could compel McGahn’s testimony. Griffith said those actions showed that a decision for the House could ensnare the courts in future disputes between the president and Congress over enforcement of subpoenas. [….]
The court distinguished Friday’s decision from related cases involving subpoenas and the separation of powers. Griffith said the decision does not disturb a 2019 decision finding Congress can enforce a subpoena for Trump’s financial records, since those records are held by a private third party. Nor does the ruling dispute that courts can weigh subpoenas against the president arising out of criminal prosecutions, as occurred during the Watergate era.
Ultimately that’s the right decision, especially in this case.
You want Congress to have the ability to pursue real, criminal actions and the ability to follow up against real specific offenses. But what you don’t want is what Democrats have been doing, throwing out subpoenas in fishing expeditions to see what they might find to weaponize against Trump so they can win an election.
And what you don’t want is to suggest that resorting to your rights is somehow obstruction, as they did during impeachment. This upholds that they were in fact right in so doing and shows that their claim of “obstruction,” at least in so far as McGahn, was disproven.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) fumed at their loss.
Nadler on McGahn ruling: I strongly disagree with today’s split decision. It is fundamentally hostile to reason and precedent, as the dissent recognized. If upheld, it would destroy the power of Congress to gather information & hold this or any future administration accountable
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 29, 2020
Pelosi on McGahn ruling: The House will now pursue an en banc rehearing of this decision. We will continue to honor our responsibility to exercise our constitutional authority to conduct oversight..including by issuing our lawful and legitimate subpoenas
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 29, 2020
No, guys, they cut off your ability for fishing expeditions.