Democrats Must Enforce Subpoenas

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It’s been nine months since the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Nine months. At the rate the Committee investigating the attack on our democracy is going, perhaps we’ll get a final report by the end of the decade. Once again, Democrats are dropping the ball.

The midnight deadline for subpoenas issued to four of the disgraced former president’s colleagues has passed. They failed to produce the documents requested at the urging of the said former president, who is claiming executive privilege. Yes, you read that right. He’s claiming executive privilege even though he’s no longer president. Only in a post-Trump world can you not make this stuff up.

The Committee told us that things were going to be different this time around. No more messing around, they said. We don’t have the Trump Justice Department obstructing us now, so we’ll be able to force their hand to comply.

Really? I do not see it. To me, it’s looking like more of the same. During the Mueller investigation, and after, we saw nothing but stonewalling, ignored court dates, threatening letters that didn’t mean a damn thing, and obstruction of investigations that made Richard Nixon look like a member of the glee club.

The former president continues to exert his outsized influence over our politics, by spouting lies, issuing directives and proclamations to his minions, and giving maniacal interviews to the right-wing echo chamber.

The man is, and I’ll continue to say it over and over, the most dangerous man in America. He’s the biggest threat to the democracy we’ve ever had. Yet, he’s free to say what he wants, when he wants, all the while our Justice Department seemingly yawns as if it’s not a big deal.

Even yesterday, with the release of the Senate Judiciary’s report of what happened leading up to January 6th, you’d think we’d have an increasing sense of urgency. That damning report showed that at least nine times, Trump tried to pressure the Justice Department into overthrowing the election. What the hell is going on with Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Justice Department?

I’m beginning to wonder if he’s only concerned with how bad it might look if we go after a former president. He may be under the assumption that we don’t do that here in America because the precedent that would set might throw our democracy into a free-for-all, much like we see in dictatorships worldwide.

I hope that’s not the case because inaction now is a far more significant threat. If these people aren’t held to account, including the big enchilada himself, then we do nothing but enable future administrations to take what happened on the 6th much further. And yes, that includes the possibility of a rogue Democratic president as well.

My hope here is that Garland and the rest of his agency are, at this time, compiling as much evidence as possible, waiting for the opportune time to issue indictments finally. Maybe that’s why it appears like he’s asleep at the wheel. If he’s not, then we’re in worse trouble than I thought.

I do take into consideration that we have two Republicans on the Committee. We don’t know how they feel about taking an aggressive posture towards the subpoena-ignoring Trumpers. Let’s hope they’ll be on board with the other Democrats. If not, I hate to say it, they should move forward regardless. It’s not the time to go easy because you don’t want to ruin the bi-partisan nature of the Committee.

The way I understand it, the Committee has three choices. They could either file a civil lawsuit against anyone who ignores the subpoena, find them in inherent contempt of Congress, or give the Justice Department a criminal referral.

Of the three, the civil lawsuit is probably the worst option. This is what Democrats did with Don McGahn, Trump’s White House Counsel when he was president. You remember McGahn. He ran out the clock for two years in court, eventually testifying to a closed session in Congress earlier this year. We do not have two years, folks.

The middle option, inherent contempt, is also problematic. Under this type of proceeding, either the House or Senate has its Sergeant-At-Arms take a person into custody for proceedings in Congress. Fines could also be issued for every day an individual ignores the subpoena. I don’t know if this Congress would have the nerve to do such a thing, although you have to admit, seeing these guys in cuffs would undoubtedly send a strong message.

But the third option may be the best one; a criminal referral of contempt, filed with the Justice Department, whose duty would be to bring the action before a grand jury. Before, when Trump was president, he could claim executive privilege, and the case would never reach the grand jury. That’s not the issue now because President Biden has already signaled he wouldn’t stand in the way.

If they use the third option, it becomes Merrick Garland’s job to see it through. While Trump has already declared executive privilege in this matter, most legal observers say it’s a stretch beyond belief. The guy isn’t president anymore. Remember?

The bottom line is pretty straightforward. It’s time, once again, for Democrats to stop screwing around and take a stand. There’s no time for courting bi-partisanship or empty threats that never produce anything of value. Bring the hammer down on these people now, or risk even further irreparable harm to our faltering democracy.

If the lack of action from this Committee already is any indication, we’re in dire straights. They knew none of these four people would comply, or at least they should have known. At 12:01 AM, one minute after the deadline passed, they should have had the referral complaint ready to go and filed with the Justice Department.

At least that’s what I wanted to see. I guess I’m hopelessly naïve here. I keep hoping the Democrats grow a spine, and each time I’ve been highly disappointed. I don’t know what the Committee is going to do. But they better quit wasting time because before you know it, the mid-term elections will be here. The chance Republicans takeover one or even both houses of congress is becoming more likely every day.

And if that happens? We’ll see all things related to the insurrection conveniently thrown out the window, replaced by daily hearings into Biden’s flawed Afghanistan withdrawal, illegal immigration, and God knows what else.

In the midst of it all, the former president remains a free man. He is a free man who seems likely to run again for the job he tried to steal back from a legitimately elected President, Joe Biden. Maybe this time will be different. Perhaps the January 6th Committee and the Justice Department will rise to the occasion and show the American people that no president is ever above the law.

Yeah, I’m skeptical. I hope they prove me wrong.

14 comments

  1. Like you I’m skeptical. Like you I was in hope that after the two wasted attempts to bring Trump to book for his misdeeds, this time would be different. I’d hoped the four would be held in contempt one minute after the deadline and even be held in Custody until a Grand Jury could sit. Now, if Merrick Garland doesn’t do his duty the message is that Politicians can get away with anything and the death and maiming on that fateful day amounted to nothing at all. Those people had no value. Unfortunately it will also add some veracity to the calls from Republican voters that what

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep, skeptical indeed David. Democrats do not give me any reason to believe this time will be different. In the meantime, Trump holds a rally in Iowa tonight. Isn’t it nice that a man responsible for an attempted coup against the United States is allowed to do such a thing? No words….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Trump has said all along is true because no-one is able to prove he did anything wrong. This will ring around the World and Joe Biden will lose any respect he ever had for his failure to keep his promise that this would be settled.
    My fingers remain crossed in case my own PM Boris thinks it’s worth trying,
    Hugs for the weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Jeff.
    Wishing I was getting the wrong end of the stick here.
    However.
    The problem which is not daring to be spoken is that the current Administration of the USA is facing the possibility of widespread civil unrest promulgated by those with vested interests in keeping the MAGA belief system alive. Trump being their current poster boy and distraction from the undercurrent of White Male Faux-Christian Privilege marshalling its forces for some societal Second Civil War. Trump being the fool he is of course opens his mouth, in the belief he is the major player. He is actually the current weapon.
    The issue for any Administration at this stage is to ponder on its course of action.
    In the old days when WMFCP were the willing tools of the professional politicians who once out of their physical reach would do deals, an astute operator would work the system; LBJ being the classic example but his story is too complex for us to get sidetracked. Sadly because The Republican Party thought it could still control the MAGA / WMFCP but woke up to find they had handed over the strings to the puppets, doing deals seem to be over.
    Riding out the storm does have its attraction, waiting for other forces such as commercial or personal to tear apart the current Republican set-up. But it is long term, risky and requires complete solidarity by all Democrats.
    Another is one which has no doubt been debated in locked rooms and hushed tones, being The Hardball strategy. This is where The Administration displays a willingness to confront head-on the MAGA / WMFCP, using the full box of tools available to it, marshalling those who feel threatened by the MAGA / WMFCP, accusing the group of treachery to the USA, calling them out for what they are, arresting those who they feel safe to accuse of being traitors or terrorist and willing to confront those who would use violence in kind. This carries its own box of risks and dangers. Do you have a Lincoln I ask?
    Finally, there is the ‘Roll Up This Map. It is no longer wanted’ approach. Based on a comment made by Prime Minster Pitt after Napoleon defeat an Austrian / Russian Coalition at Austerlitz in 1805 (he said ‘it will not be wanted these next ten years). In effect Washington becomes simply a symbolic place and the President a similar official while the states or coalition of states and cities go their own separate ways. Like an EU.
    It is the USA’s turn to face this choice. Nothing new going on here in History folks.
    I’m sorry it’s happening to you.
    Take care
    Roger

    Liked by 2 people

    1. All pretty dire choices Roger. The best thing would be if we had a political party whom these people align themselves with, the Republicans, that actually had the nerve to stick up to these fools. Unfortunately, they’re too timid and weak to do such a thing. Thus, they gravel and kiss the shoes of Trump, allow him to hold court over the whole party, and completely tear it all down. Until we come to that realization, MAGA world will continue. I do like your idea about locking up these people though. We’ll see what kind of ‘teeth’ the Jan 6 Committee has. I’m thinking they’ll be pretty much toothless, unfortunately. Time will tell.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d give those in the Republican Party who oppose this insanity a measure of wriggle room.
        MAGA by its verbal violence and physical intimidation is very close to being classed a terrorist organisation. It is difficult to take a stand in your own ‘neighbourhood’ with that level of threat hanging over you.
        This is the problem the USA’s administration is facing., because there is not a simple case of Government vs The People but a tribal split.
        It has to be repeated the USA would do well to consider the history of Ulster and consider what might await the nation.
        Take care Jeff

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Jeff, it matters not if things were reversed by party, a Congressional committee should enforce its subpoenas. Full stop. If people can blow them off in the future, they will. Truth be told, it matters not whether the former president likes it or not. Unless Trump is being given praise or money, he pretty much does not like much of anything from what I read, Keith

    PS – if you get a chance watch Dr. Fiona Hill’s interview on PBS Newshour on Friday night. One take away from this very learned and experienced public servant is the former president is so ego-maniacal, he is easily manipulated. That has and still presents a danger to our country and democracy.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree Keith. They let people drag out the subpoena process when Trump was in office. Some of it, of course, was due to him being over the Justice Department. That is no longer the case. No excuses this time!
      I’ve seen some interviews with Ms Hill. Such an impressive person. She, as much as anyone, has a real read on who Trump really is.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for sharing that Keith. She really is what America is all about, right? An immigrant from the UK, who is now an American citizen, a patriotic one at that. I’m frankly proud to have someone like that working for our government. If only we had more like her, instead of those who seem to want to bend our democracy to their will. I think you know who I’m talking about.

        Like

      2. It’s really a clear demonstration of how “ungrateful” many of us are. Having been born and raised in the U.S., we can grumble and complain and no military or law enforcement is going to come knocking on our door However, many in other countries do NOT have this privilege … and people like Dr. HIll recognize this. Too bad more U.S. citizens don’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yep, she’s an inspiration Nan. I remember many on right, however, denigrating her for having the nerve to testify and reveal Trump’s obvious attempt to subvert our election process. It was like, how dare some ‘foreigner’ try to lecture us on our democracy. I believe it was Laura Ingraham. No surprise there.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. garland is too busy writing memorandams asking the FBI to go after parents who make their voices heard at schoolboard meetings. What a stupid AG.

    Like

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