On Wednesday, Politico reported that lawyers working for the House of Representatives issued a blistering court filing accusing President Donald Trump, among other things, of trying to use the power of his office to “obstruct his own impeachment.”
The filing, part of the House Judiciary Committee’s attempt to seek testimony from ex-White House Counsel Don McGahn, cites the White House’s repeated efforts to block current and former Trump administration officials from testifying — and even some allies of Trump who have never held any position in his government.
“A president with the power to obstruct his own impeachment through capacious grants of absolute immunity would be a president who is above the law,” wrote House lawyers. “If the president could deprive the committee of information required for its impeachment inquiry into his own misconduct, the president could potentially thwart his accountability for that conduct.”
Trump and his associates have broadly attacked the impeachment inquiry as somehow illegitimate, demanding that the House take a formal vote on impeachment before starting — something that is not constitutionally required to investigate the president.
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White House Blocks Four Administration Witnesses From Giving Impeachment Depositions
Four potentially devastating witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry will follow White House orders and will refuse to testify.
The White House told the administration officials they cannot testify Monday in closed-door depositions as lawmakers investigate President Donald Trump’s scheme to withhold aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Two White House lawyers, John Eisenberg and Michael Ellis, had been scheduled to give depositions Monday, along with Brian McCormick, a deputy official in the Office of Management and Budget, and Robert Blair, a presidential assistant and senior adviser to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Eisenberg was identified by Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman as the White House official who suggested moving a transcript of Trump’s controversial phone call to a classified server, which violated longstanding official protocol.
Blair listened to the call as it took place July 25, and was also advised of the decision-making process for withholding congressionally approved military aid from Ukraine as leverage to announce an investigation of Joe Biden.
It’s not yet clear how Democrats will respond to the White House block, but a federal judge is already considering whether former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman can be forced to testify.
Revealed: State Dept. Ordered Ukraine Ambassador to Not Testify
The former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine who delivered a stunning statement just hours ago has just delivered a new one: the State Dept., at the direction of the Trump White House, ordered her to not appear or testify before Congress.
House Democrats then issued a subpoena to ensure she could testify as planned Friday morning, which she did, dropping several bombshells.
Among them, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch says President Donald Trump ordered her removed from her post. She was told to get “on the next plane” and return to Washington, D.C.
Ambassador Yovanovitch also says she believes she was recalled because she was getting in the way of plans made by the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and his associates.
“With respect to Mayor Giuliani,” Ambassador Yovanovitch said in her qwrittten statement, “I have had only minimal contacts with him—a total of three that I recall. None related to the events at issue. I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me. But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”
In other words, she appears to suggest they were trying to make money and she was blocking those efforts.
Yovanovitch also explains the decision-making process that led to her removal.
“I met with the Deputy Secretary of State, who informed me of the curtailment of my term. He said that the President had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the Department had been under pressure from the President to remove me since the Summer of 2018. He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause. I departed Ukraine for good this past May.”
House Democrats have issued a statement warning the Trump administration that their continued ewfforts to obstruct may be added to the articles of impeachment.
House Dems warn again: “Any efforts by Trump Administration officials to prevent witness cooperation with the Committees will be deemed obstruction…and an adverse inference may be drawn against the President on the underlying allegations of corruption and coverup.” https://t.co/PGnMCpvIPa
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) October 11, 2019
Image by U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine via Flickr
Mnuchin Admits Breach: White House Has Consulted With Treasury on Trump’s Tax Returns
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Tuesday morning admitted to Congress the White House Counsel’s office has consulted with the Treasury Dept.’s legal team in an apparent effort to obstruct the House Ways and Means Committee from obtaining President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
The breach occurred before Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) formally ordered six years of Trump’s taxes, as The Washington Post reports.
The Post does not say the consultation was illegal, but the title of its article suggests it might be: “Mnuchin reveals White House lawyers consulted Treasury on Trump tax returns, despite law meant to limit political involvement.”
The Post notes the “process is designed to be walled off from White House interference, in part because of corruption that took place during the Teapot Dome scandal in the 1920s.”
Meanwhile, Politico adds that Congress should not expect to see Trump’s taxes any time soon.
“Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday refused to say whether he’d turn over President Donald Trump’s tax returns to Democratic lawmakers, foreshadowing a long legal fight ahead.”
Here is Sec. Mnuchin’s remarks from today’s hearing:
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