As Nixon learned, Congress will not abide a president who defies its subpoenas.
The subpoenas against Nixon demanded 147 unedited tape recordings of presidential conversations; a list of meetings and telephone conversations for five specific, suspicious periods between 1971 and 1973; and copies of any handwritten presidential notes pertaining to the Watergate charges.
In response, Nixon asserted that the Judiciary Committee already had the “full story of Watergate,” and did not need to have further materials. He produced none of the 147 unedited transcripts that had been requested. (That bundle of withheld tapes included the critical June 23 tape that, when it was finally released, ultimately drove the president from office, and that Nixon had listened to many weeks earlier.)
.. In response, the committee approved Article III. It charged that the president “has failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee.” Instead, it read, Nixon had substituted his own views as to what materials were necessary for the committee to render its judgment, and had interposed the powers of the presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives. His refusal to comply interfered with the committee’s ability to fulfill its constitutional duties and was, therefore, subversive of constitutional government.
.. President Trump has taken a similar approach to Nixon’s, declaring that the Mueller report should mean the end of any related congressional investigations, and that he would defy any subpoena that came from them. In response, congressional leaders have said they would take the matter to court.
That’s a good thing to do — to have the courts reaffirm what is already clear in the law — and Congress will probably win. But a court case could take months to conclude, playing into the president’s apparent strategy of running out the clock.
Conservative lawmakers introduce resolution calling for impeachment of Rod Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel probe on Russia
Conservative lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling for the impeachment of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, in a move that marks a dramatic escalation in the battle over the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The effort, spearheaded by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), also sets up a showdown with House Republican leaders, who have distanced themselves from calls to remove Rosenstein from office. But Meadows and Jordan stopped short of forcing an immediate vote on the measure, sparing Republican lawmakers for now from a potential dilemma.
.. The DOJ has continued to hide information from Congress and repeatedly obstructed oversight — even defying multiple Congressional subpoenas,” Meadows said in a tweet announcing the move. “We have had enough.”
.. House Republicans have been ramping up their attacks on the deputy attorney general in recent weeks, accusing him of withholding documents and being insufficiently transparent in his handling of the probe led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Ex-Trump aide defies Mueller, risks jail
Sam Nunberg insists Donald Trump didn’t collude with the Kremlin, but also suggests that special counsel Robert Mueller “has something” on the president.
Trump fired Nunberg — a self-described protégé of political operative Roger Stone — in August 2015 after the disclosure of racially offensive Facebook posts he had written.
.. “Roger is my mentor. Roger is like family to me. I’m not going to do it,” Nunberg told MSNBC.
.. Nunberg also disobeyed requests from Mueller’s investigators to avoid publicly discussing his five-plus hour interview with Mueller’s team in Washington last month.
.. And he called “ridiculous” a question about whether he had ever heard anyone speak Russian in Trump’s office.
.. Nunberg speculated that the grand jury appearance he plans to skip on Friday was arranged in part so he could be asked about what he’s heard from senior Trump associates involving Trump’s attendance in 2013 at the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.
.. Nunberg said he’s spoken with Trump’s longtime security guard Keith Schiller about that Trump visit — specifically including what Nunbeg calls an offer by Trump’s Russian partners in staging the pageant to send prostitutes to his hotel room.
.. “Trump flat out refused it,” Nunberg said. “I can tell you that Trump is too smart to have women come up to his room.”
.. Disobeying a grand jury subpoena is considered civil contempt and can be the basis for arrest, and prosecutors typically respond with a motion asking the court to hold the witness in contempt.
.. Legal experts pointed to the precedent of Susan McDougal, a former Arkansas business partner of President Bill Clinton who spent 18 months in prison in the 1990s for civil contempt after refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating his Whitewater real estate deals.
.. Nunberg also has ties to one of Trump’s personal attorneys, Jay Sekulow, who he credits with helping him get his start in campaign politics.
.. Nunberg was working as a volunteer for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign when he first met Sekulow, who also is the chief counsel of the non-profit American Center for Law & Justice. Sekulow hired Nunberg to work in ACLJ’s New York office to help stop the construction of a mosque near the World Trade Center site.
.. Nunberg on why he’s saying no to Mueller:
Because what they said to me was absolutely ridiculous. They wanted every email I had with Roger Stone and with Steve Bannon. Why should I hand them emails from November 1, 2015. I was thinking about this today, Katy, I was preparing it. Should I spend 50 hours going over all my emails with Roger and with Steve Bannon. And then they wanted emails that I had with Hope Hicks, with Corey Lewandowski, are you — give me a break. It’s ridiculous.
.. Nunberg on the value of mentorship, loyalty:
I’m not going to cooperate when they want me to come in to a grand jury for them to insinuate that Roger Stone was colluding with Julian Assange. Roger is my mentor, Roger’s like family to me. I’m not going to do it.
.. Nunberg on some of the stuff that Mueller’s people had already asked him about:
You know what they asked — they asked things like, ‘Did you hear people speaking Russian in the Trump office?’ Katy, I did not hear people speaking Russian in the Trump office. They asked things like, ‘Did you hear about Trump Tower Moscow?’ No, I never heard about Trump Tower Moscow.
What Is Sam Nunberg Doing?
The former Trump aide’s decision to announce that he was defying a subpoena from Robert Mueller is more likely to pique the special counsel’s interest than dispel it.
.. When former Trump aide Sam Nunberg called into MSNBC on Monday to declare his intention to defy a grand-jury subpoena in the Russia investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team was almost certainly watching with interest.
“I’m not going to cooperate! Why do I have to spend 80 hours going over my emails that I’ve had with Steve Bannon and with Roger Stone?” Nunberg asked NBC News reporter Katy Tur on Monday afternoon. “Why does Bob Mueller need to see my emails when I send Roger and Steve clips and we talk about how much we hate people?”
.. Nunberg, an attorney, said he was willing to go to prison if necessary... Rather than dissuading Mueller, though, Nunberg’s strange appearance on cable television may convince Mueller that Nunberg has a story to tell.
“That’s a pretty amazing interview, I have to say,”
.. “‘It’s hard to cooperate with law enforcement’ is just not a valid reason to refuse to cooperate with law enforcement.” Barrett points out that the the government could argue that, if gathering the relevant emails is too burdensome, prosecutors could take possession of the server and perform the search themselves.
Pressed by Tur about whether he believed Mueller “had something” on Trump, Nunberg said: “I think that he may have done something during the election. But I don’t know that for sure.”
.. That admission on its own may sabotage whatever chance Nunberg had of fighting the subpoena.
.. Nunberg elaborated on the same sentiment—even confirming that the special counsel was now looking into Trump’s business deals. “The way they asked about his business dealings, the way they asked if you had heard anything even while I was fired, it just made me suspect that they suspect something about him,” Nunberg said.
.. “By admitting that Trump ‘may have done something’ and that he may have specific knowledge about that something, Nunberg may have provided a probable cause tipping point that would allow Mueller to obtain a search warrant for all the information—i.e. email content
.. A grand-jury subpoena to turn over information can be fought—either by alleging an excessive burden, or invoking the Fifth Amendment, or seeking to narrow its scope.
.. Nunberg told Tapper that the president had been aware of a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, set up by Donald Trump Jr., on the premise that Kremlin intermediaries would provide them with derogatory information on Hillary Clinton.
.. Nunberg might be attempting to put his continuing loyalty to Trump on display, or encourage other potential witnesses to defy Mueller. He could be trying to goad the president into firing the special counsel by publicly announcing Mueller’s interest in Trump’s business practices. Or he may be auditioning for immunity
.. “I wouldn’t take his appearance at face value