AG Barr defied the House Committee invitation to appear. On the most basic level, I think he should have appeared. I think his absence will be the only message heard, but ...
I can understand why he took this step. Democrat Representative Steven Cohen of Tennesee illustrated the mindset and purpose of the committee with his Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets and ceramic chicken props.
How cute. Watching him position and pose with the props showed how clever he thought he was. In such a serious matter I think this juvenile act is very telling. The Ranking Minority member called the hearing a "circus," (I understand that "of course, he would"). After watching Rep. Cohen and the 8 or 10 members rotating in front of the Press cameras afterward, I think that Ranking Member might be right.
However, and even so, I would have rathered he appeared and told them exactly what he thinks of their antics. I don't think it would have been hard to get the Democrats to show their true intent.
[EDIT] *Original post spoke of subpoena - which was, at this point, premature.
I would hope that our AG has better things to do with his time that participate in Democratic political demonstrations intended to cause harm to the President.
Certainly congress has better things to do - immigration, infrastructure and the near total failure of congress to act on anything all come to mind. Nevertheless, all else is set aside for their political games but that's no reason to demand the rest of the country do the same.
You told me once that we choose what we post...
It has come to my mind once or twice these last days.
You are right Islandbites, and as you noted, my choice here provides an obvious perspective. I agree with the "circus" description.
After the scope of the 6-hour Senate hearing, my perception of the House demands is they are nothing more than a 'my turn' attempt. And perhaps, unfortunately, the "chicken" antic reinforced that perception.
The chicken stunt was idiotic.
However, The AGs non cooperation with a Congressional committee, and refusal to adhere to a lawful Subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report, is unreasonable and contemptuous.
To be clear, the House Judiciary Committee has:
". . . jurisdiction over matters relating to the administration of justice in federal courts, administrative bodies, and law enforcement agencies" and one of it's key responsibilities is to "[oversee] the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security"(1).
The Executive does not get to pick the ball up and run home because Congress is asking questions it doesn't like. That is the point of Congressional oversight.
More broadly, no administration, Republican or Democrat, should be able to avoid the scrutiny and oversight of Congress. That oversight is fundamental to the country's democratic processes.
Do political parties sometimes yield Congressional oversight as a political weapon? Yes. There were no less than ten investigations into Benghazi which accomplished very little. And while I think the Russiagate investigation and those into Trump's conduct in office have more merit than the later fallacious Benghazi investigations, it would be naive to think Democrats are not also trying to gain some political capital. But none of that is the point.
The point is, whatever anyone thinks about the merits of a particular investigation, that does not validate obstructing and impeding Congress from carrying out its Constitutional duty.
That is what the AG is currently doing, and it's wrong.
Moreover, he is very likely doing that at the behest of Donald Trump, some of whose close associates have been indicted and convicted of criminal offenses, and whose own conduct is the subject of several ongoing investigations.
All this aligns with a larger pattern of behavior whereby the current occupant of the White House apparently thinks of himself more as an emperor able to rule by fiat, than a president subject to the same Constitutional checks and balances as every other president.
Barr and the Trump cheerleader squad (AKA the Republican party) are enabling that toxic pattern of behavior. I've come to expect no better. I'd be worried if you joined them.
"The Executive does not get to pick the ball up and run home because Congress is asking questions it doesn't like. That is the point of Congressional oversight. "
Really? Hirono, Hawaii, asking her questions and providing oversight: “Mr. Barr, now the American people know that you are no different from Rudy Giuliani or Kellyanne Conway or any of the other people who sacrificed their once-decent reputation for the grifter and liar who sits in the Oval Office,” Ms. Hirono said.
Is it any wonder Barr decided not to subject himself to such name calling and disrespect? This isn't about "oversight", it's about political ploys to harm the President and anyone that has not jumped on the "Destroy Trump" bandwagon.
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/20 … 2r88xP8JI4
I kind of have to agree.
If the questioning is simply going to involve political grandstanding, then the Democrats are doing the American people a huge disservice and there's no reason for anybody to tolerate that.
However, while people may be put off by how some Democrats are handling themselves, nobody should be dismissing the role of Congress as an oversight body. There are reasonable, important questions that should be asked, just like the were asked about Benghazi and other topics, and unless you want America to turn into a dictatorship, you should enthusiastically support Congress's role to question the executive branch.
And as an aside - nothing irritates me more about the Democrats and it's why I won't give them a dime of my money. This is a prime opportunity for them to demonstrate they are the party of justice, logic, and maturity. And instead they ask childish questions like the one Wilderness quoted, pissing off just about everyone. Somebody on the Democrats side should have censured that person. You can demonstrate that the President is a liar without calling him a liar and do so in a professional manner. To me, that question demonstrates stupidity and not much else.
I have to disagree that the statement demonstrates stupidity and nothing else.
To me it clearly demonstrates that the whole dog and pony show is not about justice, logic and maturity; it is about causing as much political harm as possible to a president from the wrong party. Stupidity may be included here as it clearly shows how pathetic the speaker is, and that's not particularly smart, but it is only a part of what we can draw as a conclusion from such childish name calling and nonsense.
It demonstrates something on the part of that one speaker, who should be censured by her party for not asking straight-forward questions.
To many people, the questioning is about justice, but that questioning should at least be done respectfully and without dragging politics into the equation.
This is the role of Congress - oversight. They did so during Benghazi and they're doing so now. We've had such "dog and pony" shows in the past and will have them in the future. However, those asking the questions should be professional.
Again, you should support such oversight no matter your political affiliation or America is going to slide down a hole from which it will never recover and our Presidents, Dems and Repubs, will rule without any restrictions on their power.
Trump and the AG are free to express their opinion about the nature of the questions and the merit of the investigation(s) if they choose.
They are not free to single-handedly decide that the Constitutionally mandated authority of Congress to scrutinize the Executive doesn't apply to them.
In other words, whether you or the Executive like Congress' questions/ statements, is irrelevant to the fact that Congress has the right to ask/ express them.
I'm certain Hillary Clinton did not like being called to testify about Benghazi, but she did (twice). Because however politically motivated some of the questions/ statements were, Congress had the right to ask/ express them. I don't believe there's any equivalence between the 10 Benghazi investigations and the one Russiagate investigation, but that's not the point. The point is Congress has a Constitutional mandate to hold the Executive to account. Even Hillary Clinton respected that Constitutional mandate, despite what she may have thought about the investigations.
You are free to start a campaign for a Constitutional amendment limiting how much Congress can scrutinize the Executive. Until then Congress has every right to investigate the conduct of a sitting president, subpoena witnesses to testify, prosecute witnesses for contempt of Congress, and impeach a sitting president if it chooses.
That is currently law of the land. You either believe in the rule of law or you don't.
Don, given that this is obviously headed for the courts as a complicated and legitimately nuanced issue, and, that neither of us has any more legal expertise than Google can give us, I am surprised you are so conclusively confident in your points.
Your first point about the Judiciary Committee's authority, while accurate, does not, (in my opinion), address the most critical determination of its Right to 6(e), (grand jury testimony), information. At this point, the committee's work doesn't seem to meet the bar of being a 'judicial proceeding'.
It appears that in the most applicable precedent, (Watergate), the determination that the Committee's work, (Nixon impeachment process), was in fact a judicial process, was a pivotal factor in making 6(e) material available for release. At this point, Nadler's committee--as stated by Nadler--doesn't meet that bar.
Since this was the first point of contention I found in my Google search, and it does seem to be a defining one, it seems unusual that you rest your point of subpoena authority solely on the Judiciary Committee's stated areas of responsibility. The "judicial proceeding" point should have at least rated a footnote.
You may hold the opinion that the Committee has the authority to demand the Right to the 6(e) materials, but I think you will need a concurring court ruling to be right.
Relative to your point that Barr is "refusing to adhere to a lawful Subpoena;" I don't think the legal authority to issue a subpoena equates to "legal subpoena." Maybe that thought would be analogous to a military Order. A soldier must obey all 'lawful' orders, but must not obey an unlawful order.
If a court ruled that the Committee's demand for 6(e) material was not within its authority, then would the subpoena to demand that material be a legal subpoena?
If the subpoena issue is the basis for your belief that the AG is obstructing Congress, then I think you are basing that belief on hope more than fact.
Consider ... The AG has offered, (as has been reported), to release a version to certain members of the committee that has less than a 1% redaction factor; all of which is 6(e) material, and all of which was also noted as 6(e) material by Mueller. So it seems unlikely that Barr was cherry-picking data harmful to the president to hide through redaction. To me, for the committee to go the subpoena route without at least exhausting that offering's material information first, stinks of "political weaponization."
At this point, I am not sure AG Barr is obstructing or impeding Congress' oversight ability. There may be valid perspectives, (party affiliated?), of the appearance that he is, but I think that at one point in time there were also valid appearances that the Democrats were doing the same regarding Benghazi. It seems the only difference--at this point--is a Party view.
Before you assign any alignment on my part, hopefully, you will note the points I did not address, as well as the ones I did. I never was much of a "joiner," and hope I haven't changed that habit now.
My basis for thinking the current administration is obstructing and impeding Congress from carrying out its Constitutional duty is the "larger pattern of behavior" I mentioned, but did not go into detail on due the volume of it all:
Refusing to comply with a valid subpoena for Trump's tax returns.
Seeking to prevent Don McGahn from complying with a subpoena to testify.
Telling former administration official, Carl Kline, not to appear for a deposition last month.
Blocking a request for financial records by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform (oversight being the operative word).
Trying to block a valid subpoena for financial records issued to Deutsche bank as part of an investigation into money-laundering.
Refusal to comply with a subpoena for Justice Department official, John Gore, to testify etc.
So while I appreciate the detail on the legal question surrounding whether grand jury testimony can be disclosed to Congress, this is about much more than a single legal question.
There is an overall pattern that indicates the White House wants to obstruct and impede Congress from conducting all and any investigations that might shed light on the President's conduct.
That is, and should be, of grave concern to all.
If Democrats were not inclined to impeach before, I strongly suspect Democratic members of the House are starting to lean that way as a result of this behavior. And while I was not in favor of impeachment at this time, if this obstructive behavior continues, I'm struggling to see how the Democrats would be left with any alternative but to impeach. If that happens, then contempt of Congress, would almost certainly be one of the articles of impeachment.
Don, I have to let this one go. I disagree with the 'Barr' points being promoted by the left, but to address them beyond the specifics, (such as my last response), can only be viewed as blind support of the Trump administration.
Even though I am arguing the nuances of the Left's charges, and I believe that to be a righteous effort, I am not willing to have that argument be perceived as support for the administration.
That I think the Democrats are cheaply, and obviously, playing a political game does not mean I am completely supportive of the Trump administration. I think any further non-point specific responses to your comment would paint that picture, and even point-specific responses would be extrapolated to the same incorrect assumptions. I lose either way.
I will wait for the court's verdicts.
Forgive me for not engaging on the details of the specific legal question you raise. It's not through lack of interest. I've enjoyed teasing out the details of difficult legal questions with you in previous discussions, but on this occasion I just think the issue is more fundamental.
John Stuart Mill, whose writing inspired the founding fathers, said about representative government:
"... the proper office of a representative assembly is to watch and control the government; to throw the light of publicity on its acts; to compel a full exposition and justification of all of them which any one considers questionable...."(1)
At risk of teaching granny to suck eggs, that principle underpins the system of "checks and balances" established in the Constitution.
And the Supreme Court has affirmed that fundamental duty (and authority) many times. This quote from Doe v. McMillan 1973 (which in turn quotes W. WIlson, 1885) pretty much sums up the matter as far as I'm concerned:
"It is the proper duty of a representative body to look diligently into every affair of government and to talk much about what it sees. It is meant to be the eyes and the voice, and to embody the wisdom and will of its constituents. Unless Congress have and use every means of acquainting itself with the acts and the disposition of the administrative agents of the government, the country must be helpless to learn how it is being served; and unless Congress both scrutinize these things and sift them by every form of discussion, the country must remain in embarrassing, crippling ignorance of the very affairs which it is most important that it should understand and direct"(2)
I'm not suggesting the investigative powers of Congress are unlimited. They're not. And yes, if there is a specific legal question, like the one you described, the Executive can turn to the third branch for a judgement.
But a blanket refusal to comply with Congressional subpoenas for both testimony and documents that this administration seems to have put in place, goes well beyond that. It's tantamount to the Executive trying to prevent Congress being the "eyes and the voice" of its constituents. That is both outrageous and dangerous.
I accept concerns about parties politicizing the oversight function (there are examples of of it from both sides of the aisle) but the consequences of Congress not being able to look "into every affair of government and to talk much about what it sees" and "[acquaint] itself with the acts and the disposition of the administrative agents of the government" are more grave.
Regardless of what I thought about the Benghazi hearings, if the then president had instructed administration officials to ignore Congressional subpoenas, I would have been as vocal in my criticism of that administration as I am being of this one. Some things just go beyond party politics.
The function of Congress outlined above is vital to the country's democratic system of government. The actions of the current administration are an attempt to curtail that function. That is nothing less than an attack on the Constitution itself, and it should not be tolerated, lest we be left in "embarrassing, crippling ignorance".
Many people don't trust the current administration to be truthful about anything. Congress must be able to represent those people, just as it must be able to represent those who have drunk the Trump kool-aid. The possibility of cringeworthy stunts involving chicken are a small price to pay for having eyes, ears and a voice able to challenge the government. As messy and non-perfect as it is, that is nature of the country's democracy, and it should be defended.
(1) http://www.gutenberg.org/files/5669/566 … nk2HCH0005 (chapter V)
Hi Don, I was fortunate to be in this thread when your comment popped up. I say fortunate because I will be chuckling about "teaching granny to suck eggs" for the rest of the day, instead of discovering it later.
Your quoted excerpts were also excellent work. I agree with both. I am envious of your talent for finding such legitimately illustrative support.
I also agree with your thought about the blanket denial of subpoenas. It seems typically Trumpian to me, and I do not support it either. I also don't think this tactic will survive specific subpoena court challenges.
No tap dancing on this one Don. I think the blanket denial is; wrong, a typical Trump thing that is distasteful, and an action that will bite his butt when the court rules against his action in specific cases.
Teach granny to suck eggs ... Ha!
A return visit to your response.
Regarding your closing sentiment; If they, (the Democrat politicians), truly believe as you stated, then how can they not pursue impeachment without acknowledging that politics triumphs truth?
Is their only defense one of 'the greater good' of attaining, (or retaining), political power.
I really have a great disdain for any argument that can only be supported by an 'the ends justifies the means' rationalization, and at this point that is my perception of these post-Mueller report investigative actions.
I am a proponent of doing the right thing, but tempered with practicality. I believe Trump should be impeached, but I also believe it is impractical to pursue impeachment unless it is a bipartisan effort.
The only way Republicans will hold this president accountable is if their constituents want them to. At this point, that is not the case. So, what should Democrats do? They should do exactly what they are doing, hold hearings and get testimony from the major players so Americans can make up their own minds. It is an unfortunate fact that most people will not take the time to understand the details of the Mueller report, but will watch TV or look at videos of testimony. The more people understand and know the details of the behavior of this president as described in the Mueller report, the better. It is easy for busy Americans to dismiss or ignore details of a report that they haven't read, especially if they don't read the news and only catch the major headlines.
I want the Democrats to do exactly what they are doing, exposing this administration's disdain for the law via televised hearings. It took a long time for Republicans to turn on Nixon, and it was because Americans turned on him. In this case, the election may be upon us before we reach that tipping point.
I'm sorry, the party that gave us Bill & Hillary Clinton as well as Obama can not claim they are interested in exposing disdain for law. It is quite funny to say such a thing. I wonder if Hillary's campaign was investigated as completely as President Donald Trump's campaign. I would say we start with her and the democrat party paying for a fake dossier. There is also Obama wire tapping President Donald Trump when he was a candidate. Oh, there is also a few thousand Email off of a private server...we could go on, but I'm just laughing to myself.
Predictable, unoriginal response. If you wonder how many investigations of Hillary occurred over how many years, look it up. When we reach that level with Trump then your comments might contain a modicum of common sense.
Now THAT'S a pleasant thought - as many years with Trump as we put up with Hillary (and Bill, for that matter).
Good old whataboutism.
Can the "let's blame the Clintons" for everything and make up stupid stuff about them ever end?
Maybe in the next century.
I think there is a good chance we not only get 8 years of the Don, but then 8 years of Ivanka as well... 16 years of Trump leadership.
What's funny (strange, not haha) is that you seem to believe members of Congress must ask the questions in Congressional Committee hearings.
Here is the chief counsel for the House committee, John W. Nields, asking questions during a committee hearing on the Iran-Contra affair: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAym7Kz … e&t=69
Here is the lead counsel to the Senate committee, Michael Chertoff, opening questioning during a committee hearing on the Whitewater affair:
Here is the public prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, hired by Republican senators, questioning Christine Blasey Ford during a Judiciary committee hearing about the nomination of justice Kavanaugh: https://youtu.be/-gKa8ZIwE7g?t=96
And, of course, here is the Republican committee lawyer, Fred Thompson, questioning a witness during a committee hearing on Watergate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeQXopJ5U-Q
So when you say Congress doesn't "get to have anyone they choose" to asks questions during committee hearings, did you actually mean to say that Congress can in fact allow others to ask questions, and have in the past, though not frequently? If so, perhaps that's something you should clarify.
Well damn, Looks like I was standing too close. Missing the Kavanaugh hearings example is barely short of irresponsible. Mea culpa.
Interesting, none of the examples you mentioned involved the Attorney General.
"Interesting, none of the examples you mentioned involved the Attorney General."
None of the examples involved Alex Trebek either, but it doesn't follow that if Mr. Trebek were called to testify at a congressional hearing, he must only be questioned by members of Congress. That's a non-sequitur.
Poor Alex Trebek. Has Stage 4 terminal cancer. Very sad. I would say if you can't see the difference between a game-show host and the attorney general of the United States, I suggest you never go on Jeopardy. The AG only has to respond to elected members of Congress. If someone was an executive of a corporation, I doubt they would want to speak with the Administrative assistant of another corporation concerning matters between the two companies.
That is sad news. I wonder why his name came to mind? Perhaps I read or heard something about him recently and it stayed with me.
Anyways, I was taking an absurdist approach to make a point, which obviously got lost along the way.
But in case you're not aware, when they refer to "staff" questioning the AG, they don't mean the local intern. They mean the Committee Counsel for the Majority Staff.
I don't think you can reasonably characterize Norm Eisen, the former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, and former White House Special Counsel for Ethics and Government Reform, as an "administrative assistant"(1). It would be perfectly appropriate for the Committee's Counsel to question a cabinet official.
Here is the deputy chief counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee questioning the then Defense Secretary, during the Iran contra hearings:
https://www.c-span.org/video/?9647-1/ir … -39-part-2
Granted the Defense Secretary is not the AG, but on the other hand he isn't Bob Barker either.
(1) https://judiciary.house.gov/news/press- … -committee
I hope everyone that has the option, does not appear.
If the House has the ability to force them to appear, so be it, but I hope no one appears for these "investigations" until forced.
Nothing should be done to help the Democrats in this effort to drag this investigation on endlessly while at the same time ignoring that it was begun on fraudulent accusations and biased agendas.
I realize the Democrats have nothing else, the Green New Deal only helped to show America how radical and out-of-touch their leadership has become... its hard to sell 'change' when the economy has never been this good for this many Americans in decades.
So they will try and drag out this garbage for as long as they can, but only those vested in politics as if it is their religion care about it... the rest are indifferent to turned off by it.
You can't defy an invitation. You can accept or reject the invitation.
Also, he did agree to meet with Congress members, not their hired lawyers.
It would have been nice to hear the questions and answers though...I am more interesting in hearing Mueller myself at the moment.
You caught me in a case of sloppy editing DoubleScorpion. (should I use "M"?)
As noted by my [EDIT] caveat, that statement originally contained "subpoena," (which can be defied), which was replaced by "invitation" in the edit. I should have also changed "defy" to "decline."
Since poll after poll is showing the American people are over the entire show it will be a curiosity to see if the democrats in Congress can gain popular opinion back before they dig a grave too deep to escape from.
After his disastrous appearance yesterday (that was run by a friendly side), he obviously couldn't risk it.
And I don't think he really was considering to appear anyway.
Likely couldn't risk a choice between perjury or implicating Trump.
I think you have nailed the reality of the situation PrettyPanther.
But, I think there is another, just as legitimate, perspective. One that sees these further Democratic efforts; more hearings, more investigations, as just more efforts to bring down a president because the main official effort appears to have failed.
That alternate perspective would also see the Democrat's non-Presidency related charges and investigations; subpoenas for financial and bank records for pre-Presidency times, demanding tax records for pre-Presidency times, and others, as just nasty political fishing expeditions.
More hearings may provide more information that might sway public opinion and support for impeachment, (or they might create the opposite effect), and they would be further legitimized by being part of an Impeachment process. That process would also further legitimize their investigative demands in the court's eyes.
But without that legitimization, it just looks like the Democrats are scrambling to throw whatever they can, and hope something hits their target. They appear to lack the courage of their convictions to stand tall and instead are resorting to political guerrilla warfare.
Democrats have the majority to impeach this president. The impeachment process would allow them to further investigate and state their charges. It would also give them a legitimate stage to address the public with more information, (as you say the goal of further hearings would do now), to sway the public to support them.
But instead ... they choose politics as usual. And for the segment of voters that chose Trump because they were tired of "politics as usual" it just cements their opinions of Democrats. I think 'playing it safe' is going to hurt the Democrats instead of helping them.
Well hell, that is no fun. There must be something we could argue about.
How about the KFC buckets and ceramic chicken ... which Republican's behavior matches that? Wait, that wasn't a rhetorical jab, I know there was at least one, I just can't remember his name. It was the one that had that 'clever' snark in one of the hearings about something missing on some form - that turned out to be a completely different thing. It took half a pack of Wet Wipes to get the egg off of his face.
Best line I heard all week: "Bill Barr is so far up Trump’s ass he bumped into Hannity."
Okay, I give, I give. I don't know if that one fits the 'public display by a politician', criteria, but it did cause a chuckle. It's funny. It doesn't really matter, but who said it?
Bill Maher. He also said expecting Donald Trump to follow the rules is like playing monopoly with a hyena. "When it bites you and shits on the board, saying ‘It’s not your turn’ really doesn’t work.”
Maher is an insightful man.
In this entire post there is not ONE mention that upon Attorney General Barr's return to Congress, he was not scheduled to answer questions from members of Congress. He was scheduled to answer questions from committee staff attorneys. He doesn't answer to non-elected government individuals. THAT is the reason he didn't testify. I'm sorry to point this out, but Congress doesn't get to have anyone they choose interview the Attorney General of the United States. That is THEIR job and he answered their questions.
Does anyone on the left read or understand anything? This is the key element to this discussion and nobody on this thread seems to know anything about it.
"their intention to have committee staff attorneys question Barr, which prompted his refusal to testify"
"Democrats argued that Barr was afraid to appear before the panel, a point Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen tried to drive home by scarfing down a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken in the committee hearing room."
"Republicans countered that Barr had agreed to testify until Nadler changed the rules and upped the stakes by requiring that he submit to committee staff questioning."
https://www.realclearpolitics.com/artic … 40235.html
"Does anyone on the left read or understand anything?"
Aw, come on, Mike, you've already established in a previous thread that us liberals are too stupid to understand and discuss any basis for impeachment other than "we don't like Trump.". This topic is clearly beyond our limited comprehension, too. I'm surprised a man of your superior intellect is even bothering to mention such details to us inferior liberals.
How are liberals to see the light if not for the continued efforts to provide enlightenment from individuals such as myself? I am here to help.
Would you have supported his appearance if it were only the committee members that could question him?
What if those committee members had their staff lawyers sitting behind them passing questions to ask ... would that be okay with you?
The bottom line is you can't require a member of the president's cabinet to come and answers questions from congressional staff members. They are not elected. It doesn't matter how members of Congress use their staff. They will be on official record for asking the question. They and not their staff members will be held responsible.
I don't know if it is a "can't require" thing, or if it is just a protocol issue. I supported him as a no-show for reasons I previously mentioned in this thread, and I also support his objection to 'staff lawyers' doing the questioning. I see it as disrespectful and beyond the intent of the hearing process purpose.
When you say Congress doesn't "get to choose" who interviews people in committee hearings, are you 100% confident that's accurate?
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