Let Mueller Keep Digging

If the president fires Mr. Mueller now, it will look as though he has something to hide; if another special counsel is appointed, it will further diminish the proper investigative authority here—i.e., Congress. There are better ways forward.

..  If it’s true that there is no obstruction or Russian collusion, his overriding interest lies in full transparency. In a recent piece for National Review, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy asks why Mr. Trump doesn’t just order the declassification of material such as the FBI’s application for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrants to wiretap Trump associates, so Americans can see for themselves whether the FBI used or misused information from the infamous Steele dossier. Good question.

.. During the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner rode off into the sunset without testifying because Congress allowed the Obama Justice Department to determine her fate. Ditto for John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner who happily served out his time when Congress should have impeached him for his falsehoods and obstructionism.

.. If executive branch officials continue to play games with subpoenas, Congress needs to give them a taste of the legislature’s powers, whether by cutting agency budgets, impeaching directors or holding uncooperative officials in contempt. In this regard it’s good to know Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is still pursuing contempt citations for Mr. Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. A contempt vote by the full House would of course depend on Speaker Paul Ryan, who complained in October about FBI “stonewalling.”

.. So forget firings and new special prosecutors. Let the president use his executive authority to make public the evidence that would tell the American people what really happened.

Mick Mulvaney Is the True Pope

Once again, naked progressive overreach sets Donald Trump up for a win.

Republicans, of course, have distrusted the CFPB since its inception. Partly the objection is practical, because its creation embodies the classic Beltway approach: rather than fix a broken regulatory system, throw another powerful agency atop the heap.

.. In this case, however, the objections are also constitutional. Philip Hamburger, a Columbia University law professor and author of “Is Administrative Law Unlawful?,” notes that the lack of democratic accountability almost CFPB.

.. “This agency is so independent that it does not need congressional funding, and it now has declared itself self-appointing—even in opposition to the president’s appointee,” he says. “The CFPB is thus a reminder of how the administrative state can go to dangerous extremes.”

.. Behind the metaphor of “the swamp,” after all, is the idea, not without justification, that today’s Washington is far removed from government of, by and for the people. In this context the CFPB is a good proxy for the beau ideal of modern American progressivism: appointed bureaucrats, unaccountable to the elected representatives of the people, who wield their regulatory authority as a weapon

Mueller Is Trumping Congress

Special prosecutors corrupt; independent counsels corrupt absolutely.

The main headlines of the past week—Is Donald Trump attempting to undermine Mr. Mueller? Will Trump Fire Mueller?—all speak to the challenge a special prosecutor poses to the constitutional authority of the president.

Far less scrutiny has been devoted to the challenge Mr. Mueller poses to the authority of the legislative branch. In this case, ironically, the challenge stems less from the aggressiveness of the special prosecutor than from the meekness of Congress. In between their public tributes to Mr. Mueller’s sterling character, too many in Congress seem to worry more about how they might be affecting his investigation than about what his investigation might be doing to theirs.

.. Mr. Mueller, an unelected appointee, had the Trump memos written by former FBI Director James Comey even as the FBI was refusing to release them to the elected representatives of the American people.

.. Here a May 2017 review from the Congressional Research Service is illuminating. Although witnesses before a congressional committee do have the right to invoke the Fifth Amendment, the House can get a court order directing the witness to testify so long as the threat of prosecution for that testimony is removed. Mr. Mueller might not like this, but that shouldn’t stop Congress from using a power designed to extract information rather than punish.

.. Even more intriguing, sensitive or privileged client information is not exempt from congressional subpoena. This might prove especially fascinating in the case of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has had business dealings with a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party. Ditto for Glenn Simpson, whose Fusion GPS commissioned what became the Christopher Steele Russian dossier on behalf of political clients.

.. Not to mention the many other powers of Congress, including impeachment and the purse. The point is, Congress has many ways to get to the bottom of the Russia story and hold people accountable—if it so chooses.

.. In Anderson v. Dunn (1821), the Supreme Court correctly noted that without the power to imprison those found in contempt, Congress would be “exposed to every indignity and interruption, that rudeness, caprice or even conspiracy may meditate against it.” Two centuries later, the different examples of Ms. Lerner and Mr. Mueller both point to a brand new indignity—which Congress inflicts on itself when it is too timid to assert its own powers.

Opinion Journal: The Trumpian Pope

They’re both pretty good at the insult and name calling.

The pope talks about Catholic Moms breeding like rabbits.  Anyone who disagrees with him can’t be honest, must be disturbed.

They share a debilitating view of trade.  The Pope has a flat materialist view of capital and sees it as exploitive Yankee Imperialism.  Doesn’t see Capitalism has helping unlock people’s potential.

Trump see trade as a zero sum game.  The Mexicans have just as much right to find their place in a global economy.

Trump needs  to see people as valuable assets.

Where is the Pope on the tragedy of Venezuela?  He doesn’t distinguish between crony capitalism of Latin America and Singapore.