One of the biggest problems for President Donald Trump remains none other than President Donald Trump. Following reporting that Trump told officials he’d pardon them if they break the law while carrying out his pro-huge border wall, anti-immigrant agenda, the House Judiciary Committee has unveiled a subpoena for documents at the Department of Homeland Security covering the apparent offer. Trump has denied making the offer, and associates have claimed he was joking — but House Democrats are pursuing this lead all the same, throwing another stick in the Trump wheel of madness.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) explained, casting the subpoena in light of the panel’s ongoing effort to decide whether to pursue impeaching Trump:
‘The Framers did not envision the use of the presidential pardon power to encourage criminal acts at the president’s direction. As the committee continues its investigation into whether to recommend articles of impeachment, it is imperative that we are able to obtain information about ongoing presidential misconduct and abuses of power.’
POLITICO notes that Nadler added that “his panel will also hold hearings in the coming months related to the issue of pardons as it continues its sweeping investigation into possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuses of power by the president.” Previous attempts of theirs at public hearings have sometimes fallen flat thanks to Trump team refusals to cooperate, although House Democrats did manage to host now former Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller himself for testimony.
There’s no particular indication that the Trump team will even attempt to comply with this latest subpoena considering their precedent of completely ignoring similar demands from House Democrats. At one point, Trump himself said he would fight “all the subpoenas.” However, this subpoena could still lay the groundwork for a future court battle in which it’s no longer the president and his shills’ decision whether or not they comply. It includes a demand for a response by September 17. Among other similar instances, House Democrats have already taken the Trump team to court over their refusal to comply with a subpoena for the president’s tax returns, which would allow scrutiny of possibly corrupting financial ties.
The closest that the House Judiciary Committee has gotten so far to real cooperation from the Trump team is an appearance former Trump staffer Hope Hicks made in which she declined to answer almost every single question covering her time in the White House, leaving committee members frustrated.
Trump and his associates are continuing with their campaign to apply the concept of “executive privilege” so freely that it blocks scrutiny of essentially anything they want it to — they’ve shown close to no boundaries in attempting its application.
Nadler painted the alleged presidential pardon offer as part of a “troubling pattern of obstruction of justice” that “would represent a continuation of the misconduct identified in the Mueller report.” That document includes details about the president dangling pardon possibilities in front of former associates including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn in an effort to keep them from cooperating with the Russia investigation. That pardon-dangling effort failed.
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