Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-22-2020, 03:15 PM
Chad Sudan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 107

Should the House have compelled witness testimony?


In the last impeachment, in 1998, even President Clinton was compelled to testify.

This time around, the House decided not to try to force potential witnesses like Bolton, Mulvaney, Giuliani, or Trump himself to testify. (And the GOP-dominated Senate is not expected to do so.)

Would there have been a significant down side if the House had threatened reluctant witnesses with fines and/or jail, or even used the Capitol police to bring them in?

(And can future impeachments even work if this one sets the precedent that there are no consequences for refusing to testify?)

In short - was the House too timid?
  #2  
Old 01-22-2020, 03:25 PM
iiandyiiii's Avatar
iiandyiiii is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Arlington, VA
Posts: 36,872
I don't know. I trust Pelosi's instincts as better than mine, so far.
  #3  
Old 01-22-2020, 04:14 PM
kenobi 65's Avatar
kenobi 65 is online now
Corellian Nerfherder
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
Posts: 16,903
My understanding is that:

(a) subpoenas from the House committees, for documents and testimony, were roundly being ignored by the White House

(b) trying to force compliance with the subpoenas was shaping up to be a long series of court fights, which could have taken months or more

(c) the House lacked the ability to enforce the subpoenas, given that the Justice Department had no interest in doing anything about them

So, I'm not sure how the House could have compelled those testimonies in any sort of timely fashion.
  #4  
Old 01-22-2020, 06:05 PM
EasyPhil is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: NYCNYUSA
Posts: 1,601
The impeachment "show" has to happen prior to the election in order for it to sufficiently "dirty" up the President so that the democratic nominee can have a chance of defeating him.
__________________
Thinking in, out and around the box!
  #5  
Old 01-22-2020, 06:12 PM
bobot's Avatar
bobot is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Chicago-ish
Posts: 9,628
Back to the OP: I'm not sure what the house could have done to compel Trump to stop obstructing testimony, the dude ignores the law and legal orders like nobody's business. Who knows how long Trump would have tied things up in the courts. I, too, am trusting in Nancy Pelosi, Law Abider, here.

Last edited by bobot; 01-22-2020 at 06:13 PM.
  #6  
Old 01-22-2020, 06:34 PM
don't mind me is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: somewhere over there
Posts: 1,433
Don McGahn already had a very similar suit underway. There was no need to waste time on another, especially since there was every reason to believe the McGahn decision would be appealed - as it has been. It hasn't yet gone to the Supreme Court. Paywall NY Times story.
  #7  
Old 01-22-2020, 06:56 PM
Aspenglow's Avatar
Aspenglow is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Oregon
Posts: 4,587
Let's not forget that for the Clinton impeachment, there was a 4-year independent counsel investigation headed up by Kenneth Starr. Most of the witnesses that testified before the Senate had already testified before a grand jury under oath. What they were going to say was already known to all because they had transcripts. Similarly, that investigation produced some 90,000 documents before the trial ever started.

Why didn't we have an independent or special counsel appointed for Trump's impeachment investigation?

Bill Barr, that's why. Despite having received at least 3 referrals from various executive branch agencies, he ignored them and declared there was "nothing" to investigate.

That's why the House of Representatives was left to conduct its own investigation, and why Trump stonewalled every subpoena for both witnesses and documents.

To fight these things in the court takes years. Since one of the main concerns in impeaching Trump is to prevent him from subverting the 2020 election, waiting years for court rulings on subpoena compliance makes no sense.
  #8  
Old 01-22-2020, 07:16 PM
alphaboi867 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: the Keystone State
Posts: 14,462
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
...(c) the House lacked the ability to enforce the subpoenas, given that the Justice Department had no interest in doing anything about them

So, I'm not sure how the House could have compelled those testimonies in any sort of timely fashion.
This isn't technically true; Congress still has the power of inherent contempt, even though it hasn't been used since the 1930s. What this means is that instead of relying on the Justice Department the House could've theoretically sent the Capital Police out to enforce subpoenas (even the extend of detaining people and physically bringing them before the committees).
__________________
No Gods, No Masters
  #9  
Old 01-22-2020, 07:37 PM
Ravenman is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 27,687
I donít understand the logic that Congress canít compel the Executive Branch to do something because of separation of powers, but the Judicial Branch can and itís perfectly fine with no separation of powers issues.
  #10  
Old 01-22-2020, 07:42 PM
squeegee's Avatar
squeegee is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Aptos CA
Posts: 9,046
It's one of those "norms" things. The executive branch hasn't yet (entirely) ignored the judiciary when compelled.
  #11  
Old 01-22-2020, 08:20 PM
str8cashhomie is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 187
The most important battleground for the impeachment fight was always going to be the daily headlines. If the Dems had let all these subpoenas drag through court, headlines on a day-to-day basis will be something about whether an appeal to a ruling on a subpoena would be taken up, and people wouldn't have kept their interest as high as if you maximize the number of affirmative stories about people testifying that Trump directed them to extort foreign officials. Better to just throw all that stuff on the "obstruction of congress" article and move on.

There's the argument that if you give up on compelling witnesses and documents, Trump's team can argue that the obstruction charge is flimsy, but I think politically this is a mistake. There's always going to be something they can use to muddy the waters and it's more important to reach people with your positive case than to try to defend against every conceivable counterargument.

I do think they should have simply called the second article "obstruction of justice".
  #12  
Old 01-23-2020, 11:02 AM
Dinsdale is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 19,215
I had thought Congress ought to be more assertive in subpoenaing docs and testimony. It seemed they pretty quickly adopted an attitude of, "Well, no use in trying harder, b/c the admin will just stonewall, and we don't care to go through the courts."

To some extent, however, they were pretty much damned if they do/don't. The Admin/Repubs were going to oppose - and criticize - any choice/action.

I decided Pelosi and others were far more expert than I re: what could be done, and the likely benefits of various strategies. However, they seem to consistently be getting pretty damned mild bang for their buck.
__________________
I used to be disgusted.
Now I try to be amused.
  #13  
Old 01-23-2020, 06:03 PM
Max S. is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 2,523
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
I donít understand the logic that Congress canít compel the Executive Branch to do something because of separation of powers, but the Judicial Branch can and itís perfectly fine with no separation of powers issues.
Congress could easily take away the DoJ's prosecutorial discretion when it comes to forwarding contempt of congress to a grand jury. They would only have to amend 2 U.S.C. 194, striking the words "whose duty it shall be" and inserting "who shall within one week".

2 U.S.C. 194
SPOILER:
"Whenever a witness summoned as mentioned in section 192 of this title fails to appear to testify or fails to produce any books, papers, records, or documents, as required, or whenever any witness so summoned refuses to answer any question pertinent to the subject under inquiry before either House, or any joint committee established by a joint or concurrent resolution of the two Houses of Congress, or any committee or subcommittee of either House of Congress, and the fact of such failure or failures is reported to either House while Congress is in session or when Congress is not in session, a statement of fact constituting such failure is reported to and filed with the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House, it shall be the duty of the said President of the Senate or Speaker of the House, as the case may be, to certify, and he shall so certify, the statement of facts aforesaid under the seal of the Senate or House, as the case may be, to the appropriate United States attorney, whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action."


~Max
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:44 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017