Donald Trump, President Trump discussed on All Things Considered


In word and indeed president trump is declared himself above the law he has done so because he is guilty and wishes to conceal as much of the evidence for the American people and from this body as he can in that he must not succeed if president trump is allowed to remain in office after this conduct historians will mark the date that this Senate allowed this president to break one of our mightiest defenses against tyranny they will wonder why Congress so readily surrendered one of its core constitutional powers you wonder why Congress it made it that a president can get away with anything can violate any constitutional rule any liberty any request for information and get away with it simply by saying I don't have to answer your questions Congress has no power to make me answer questions about my conduct that's what is at stake in future people will despair that future presidents can abuse their power without fear of consequence of constraint let's begin with a legal premise of the second article of impeachment Congress has the power to investigate residents for official misconduct this premise is indisputable article one of the constitution all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in the Congress of the United States which consist of the Senate and house of representatives each house may determine the rules of its own proceedings our investigations are grounded in article one of the constitution which grants pass Congress all legislative powers and authorizes each house to determine its own rules as the Supreme Court has explained the constitution does that's the house and the Senate with the power of enquiring that is my quote penetrating and far reaching close quote moreover Congress can effectuate that power of enquiring by issuing subpoenas commanding the recipient to provide documents to testify under oath compliance with contact with the subpoenas is mandatory it's not that the option of the executive or the president as the Supreme Court has explained quote it is unquestionably the duty of all citizens to cooperate with the Congress in its efforts to obtain the facts needed for intelligent legislative action it is their unremitting obligation to respond to subpoenas to respect the dignity of the Congress and its committees and to testify with respect to matters within the province of proper investigation more recently United States district judge content you brown Jackson as elaborate quote blatant defiance of Congress centuries old power to compel the performance of witnesses is not an abstract duty injury nor is it a mere back then I'll insult to our democracy it is an affront to the mechanism for curbing abuses of power that the framers carefully crafted for our protection and thereby recalcitrant witnesses actually undermine the broader interests of the people of the United States in recognition of the important role the congressional quite he's playing protecting our democracy and then guarding the American people it is unlawful to obstruct the of course what Congress investigates many issues were the most important is misconduct in the executive branch there is a long history of congressional investigations into the executive branch to name a few especially famous cases Congress is investigating claims that president Lincoln mishandle civil war military strategy the infamous teapot dome scandal and the president Harding president Nixon's involvement in the Watergate scandal as in Reagan's involvement in the Iran contra affair president Clinton's real estate dealings in the Monica Lewinsky scandal warrantless wiretapping and the president George Bush attacks on American personnel in Benghazi and the president Obama since the dawn of the Republic presence of recognize Congress's power to investigate the executive branch even in sensitive investigations involving national security and foreign policy residents of provided Congress with axes to senior officials and important documents for example the Iran contra enquiring president Reagan's former national security adviser Oliver north and the former assistant to the president for national security affairs John Poindexter testified before Congress president Reagan also produced relevant excerpts of his personal diaries to Congress during the Clinton administration Congress obtain testimony from top advisers including the president's chief of staff Mack McLarty his chief of staff Erskine Bowles White House counsel Bernie Nussbaum and White House counsel Jack Quinn in the main guys investigation president Obama made many of his top aides available for transcribed interviews including national security adviser Susan rice and deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Benjamin rose the Obama administration in that case was to produce more than seventy five thousand pages of documents including fourteen hundred fifty pages of White House emails with communications of senior officials on the National Security Council to be sure certain house Republicans complained loudly that the Obama administration's response to the to the Benghazi investigation was insufficient just imagine how they would have reacted if president Obama and what a total defiance civil subpoenas there would have been out rage why because Congress unquestionably has the authority to investigate presidential kinda now not only this Congress of the power to investigate the executive but as we have discussed article one of the constitution gives the house the sole power of impeachment the framers intended this power to be an essential check on out of control presidents but it does not work automatically the house must investigate question witnesses and review documents only then can it decide whether to approve or not approve articles of impeachment therefore when the house determines that the president may have committed high crimes and misdemeanors it has a constitutional duty to investigate his condo in such cases the house acts not only pursuant to its ordinary legislative authority but also serves as a grand in quest of the nation because an impeachment enquiring wheels what one of the greatest powers in the constitution a power that exists specifically to constrain presidents it subpoenas are back with the full force of the impeachment clause they cannot be thwarted by ordinary executive privileges ordinary objections it is therefore presumed as president Polk conceded over a hundred fifty years ago that quote all the archives and papers of the executive departments public or private would be subject to inspection and quote every facility in the power of the executive would be afforded to enable the house to prosecute the investigation what investigation impeachment investigation of president Polk presidents pokes his statement which will return to was no out liar presence of long understood that they must comply with impeachment inquires consistent with his understanding in the history of the part of the Republic no president has ever claimed the unilateral prerogative to categorically defy house impeachment inquire in two of his office has disavowed the limitless power that he asserts that matters as the Supreme Court explain just a few years ago and I quote long settled and established practices a consideration great weight in a proper interpretation of constitutional provisions regulating the relationship between Congress and the president so let's take a quick tour of the historical record to begin at the beginning a sweltering summer in Philadelphia seventeen eighty seven the framers discussed at length the balance between presidents and Congress remember they're just fought a bloody war to rid themselves of a tyrant which and they were very conscious they didn't want another tyrant when impeachment came up the agreed it would limit the president's authority but a strong majority frame is so that is a virtue not a vice they wanted to empower the president but also to keep his power from getting out of hand yet impeachment could not serve that role if the house were unable to investigate the president for suspected high crimes and misdemeanors this is recognized early on starting with the very first president in seventeen ninety six has requested the president Washington right it was sensitive diplomatic materials relating to the hugely on unpopular J. treaty with Great Britain president Washington the Clyde declined since this request intruded upon his executive functions but Washington agreed that impeachment with changes calculus in the ensuing debate was noted on the house floor that Washington had admitted quote that where the house expressed his intention to impeach the right to demand from the executive all papers and information in his possession belongs to it all papers and information this is only the first of many references to that point in our constitutional tradition for example less than forty years later in eighteen thirty three justice Joseph story remarked upon the dangers of presidential instruction he wrote the power of impeachment will generally be applied to persons holding high offices under the government and it is of great consequence that the president should not have the power of preventing a thorough investigation of their own kinda consistent with this teaching president Polk later offered his clear an insightful explanation of why presidents must under all impeachment subpoenas as I mentioned just moments ago he said and I quote it may be alleged that the power of impeachment belongs to the house of representatives and that with a view to the exercise of this power that has has the right to investigate the conduct of all public offices under the government this is cheerfully admitted decades later during our first presidential impeachment enquiring president Andrew Johnson recognized Congress's power to thoroughly investigate him and his executive branch subordinates in eighteen sixty seven for example the house Judiciary Committee obtained executive in presidential records the committee interviewed cabinet offices in presidential aides about cabinet meetings and private conversations with the president by his top aides and cabinet officials and multiple witnesses moreover answered questions about the opinions of the president's statements made by the president and the vice given to the president there is no evidence that Johnson ever asserted any privilege to prevent disclosure of presidential conversations to the committee or fail to comply with any of the committee's requests thus in the first eighty years of the Republic president's Washington poking Johnson along with members and committees of the house and a Supreme Court justice all recognize that Congress is authorized by the constitution to investigate for impeachment and the president's are obligated to give all information requested president trump's attempt to stone will Congress would have shocked those presidents with only a few exceptions invocations of the impeachment power subsided from eighteen sixty eight to nineteen seventy two yet even in that period well objecting to ordinary legislative oversight presidents Ulysses grant Grover Cleveland a theater rose up each noted the Congress could obtain key executive branch documents in impeachment inquired it does confirm yet again that impeachment is different under the constitution requires full compliance then came Watergate when president Nixon abused the powers of his office to undermine his political opponents but even Nixon even Nixon understood that he must comply with subpoenas for information relating to his misconduct does he stated in March nineteen seventy three regarding the Senate's Watergate investigation I quote all members of the White House staff will appear voluntarily when requested by the committee they will testify under oath and they will answer prop fully all questions as a result many senior White House officials testified including White House counsel John dean White House chief of staff HR Haldeman and Deputy Assistant to the president Alexander Butterfield.

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