House Committee ‘Likely’ To Subpoena John Bolton

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton (image via White House - public domain)
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton speaking to the press in May 2019 (image via White House – public domain)

Even as the Senate prepares to close up shop on the Donald Trump impeachment trial today, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that it is “likely” House Democrats will subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton regarding Trump’s hold on military aid to Ukraine.

From Axios:

The state of play: Trump is set to be acquitted on articles of impeachment centered on the Ukraine saga, and Republican senators voted last week against calling new witnesses, including Bolton, in the impeachment trial.

Bolton alleges in the manuscript of his forthcoming book that Trump explicitly tied the Ukraine aid to political investigations of his opponents, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his family, and asked in early May to ensure that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would meet with Rudy Giuliani.

What they’re saying: Nadler said he was not worried about the potential political backlash from continuing the investigations, saying, “I think when you have a lawless president, you have to bring that to the fore and you have to spotlight that.”

Former National Security Adviser Will Testify In Trump Impeachment Trial If Subpoenaed

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton in May 2019 (image via White House – public domain)

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton has issued a statement saying he will testify during the impeachment trial of Donald Trump if subpoenaed by the Senate.

During the present impeachment controversy, I have tried to meet my obligations both as a citizen and as former National Security Advisor. My colleague, Dr. Charles Kupperman, faced with a House committee subpoena on the one hand, and a Presidential directive not to testify on the other, sought final resolution of this Constitutional conflict from the Federal judiciary. After my counsel informed the House committee that I too would seek judicial resolution of these Constitutional issues, the committee chose not to subpoena me. Nevertheless, I publicly resolved to be guided by the outcome of Dr. Kupperman’s case.

But both the President and the House of Representatives opposed his effort on jurisdictional grounds, and each other on the merits. The House committee went so far as to withdraw its subpoena to Dr. Kupperman in a deliberate attempt to moot the case and deprive the court of jurisdiction. Judge Richard Leon, in a carefully reasoned opinion on December 30, held Dr. Kupperman’s case to be moot, and therefore did not reach the separation-of-powers issues.

The House has concluded its Constitutional responsibility by adopting Articles of Impeachment related to the Ukraine matter. It now falls to the Senate to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to try impeachments, and it does not appear possible that a final judicial resolution of the still-unanswered Constitutional questions can be obtained before the Senate acts.

Accordingly, since my testimony is once again at issue, I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study. I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify.

ABC News reports Bolton informed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of his statement before it was released, but did not tell the White House.

While publicly saying he wants to see witnesses testify at the Senate trial, Trump has repeatedly blocked White House officials from doing so.

McConnell has said he doesn’t see the need for witnesses or documentary evidence during Trump’s trial.

CNN’s Manu Raju reports that with this new development, Democrats say Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s decision to withhold the articles of impeachment until now has been vindicated.

Former National Security Advisor Just Ghosted On His House Intelligence Committee Appearance

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton (image via White House - public domain)
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton (image via White House - public domain)
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton (image via White House – public domain)

Former White House national security adviser John Bolton was a no-show today for his scheduled closed-door deposition with the House Intelligence committee.

Bolton reportedly told the House committees handling the ongoing impeachment inquiry that he planned to challenge any subpoenas that might be issued for him.

The Washington Post reported this morning that Bolton “is willing to defy the White House and testify in the House impeachment inquiry about his alarm at the Ukraine pressure campaign if a federal court clears the way, according to people familiar with his views.”

A spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee has already indicated Democrats have “no interest in allowing the administration to play a rope-a-dope with us in the courts for months.” The official added that the White House plan to block testimony will be viewed as further evidence of obstruction for a potential article of impeachment.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff announced on Wednesday that public impeachment hearings before his committee will begin next week.

Legal experts have opined that House Democrats may believe they have enough evidence to proceed without the testimony of White House officials.

Sec Of State Pompeo Defies Congressional Subpoena

Sec of State Mike Pompeo (image via Flickr/WhiteHouse – public domain)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has informed House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel that he plans to defy a congressional subpoena asking to interview five State Department employees.

Pompeo writes, “I’m concerned with aspects of the committee’s request that can be understood only as an attempt to intimidate, bully and treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.”

“Let me be clear: I will not tolerate such tactics, and I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals whom I am proud to lead and serve alongside at the Department of State,” he added.

On Friday, Engel informed Pompeo that “failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry.”

A new twist in the ongoing impeachment inquiry occurred yesterday when it was revealed Pompeo was on the now-infamous July 25 call between the president of Ukraine and Donald Trump when Trump pressed the Ukrainian leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

When asked about the phone call and subsequent investigation last week, Pompeo was evasive and vague during interviews seeming to have little information about the conversation.

From Pompeo’s letter today (via Twitter):

“This amounts to an attempt to circumvent the Executive Branch’s unquestionably legitimate constitutional interest in protecting potentially privileged information related to the conduct of diplomatic relations.

“Therefore, the five officials subject to your letter may not attend any interview or deposition without counsel from the Executive Branch present to ensure that the Executive Branch’s constitutional authority to control the disclosure of confidential information, including deliberative matters and diplomatic communications, is not impaired.”

Manhattan District Attorney Subpoenaed 8 Years Of Trump Tax Returns

As part of an investigation into the alleged hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels by Donald Trump, the District Attorney of Manhattan has subpoenaed 8 years of personal and corporate income tax returns by the Donald.

From the New York Times:

The subpoena opens a new front in a wide-ranging effort to obtain copies of the president’s tax returns, which Mr. Trump initially said he would make public during the 2016 campaign but has since refused to disclose.

The subpoena was issued by the Manhattan district attorney’s office late last month, soon after it opened a criminal investigation into the role that the president and his family business played in hush-money payments made in the run-up to the election.

Both Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, for money Mr. Cohen paid to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the affair.

(lead image via Flickr/WhiteHouse – public domain)

House Committee Approves Resolution To Hold Commerce Secretary & Attorney General In Contempt

By a vote of 24-15, the House Oversight Committee approved a resolution recommending Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General William Barr be held in contempt for refusing to comply with subpoenas in regard to the committee's investigation into a question about citizenship on the 2020 census.

By a vote of 24-15, the House Oversight Committee approved a resolution recommending Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General William Barr be held in contempt for refusing to comply with subpoenas in regard to the committee’s investigation into a question about citizenship on the 2020 census.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) joined Democrats in voting in favor of the resolution.
The committee is seeking internal documents between the Justice Department and the Trump administration regarding how the citizenship question came to be and why.
Democrats assert the question was added in order to intimidate immigrants into not filing the census form. 
The census is used to determine how many federal lawmakers are allocated to each state. Should immigrants pass on filling out the form it would most probably benefit Republicans.

House Democrats Introduce Resolution To Hold Attorney General In Contempt

CNN is reporting that Democrats in the House of Representatives have introduced a resolution meant to empower committees to go to court to enforce their subpoenas in an effort to give committee chairmen an effective way to hold officials in contempt while bypassing the House floor.

The plan comes after Donald Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr, and former White House counsel Don McGahn have stonewalled efforts by Democrats to get subpoenaed documents from the Trump administration.

The Democrats’ resolution next week to hold Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt and take those cases to court will also include language stating that committees can move to hold officials in contempt of Congress, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said this week.

The resolution will also include language directing the House to petition the courts to obtain grand jury information contained in the Mueller report.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler pushed for the move in recent weeks as House leadership decided to wait to hold a floor vote on contempt for Barr until they could package officials together. Now committees themselves would be empowered to use civil contempt citations to go to court to enforce their subpoena.

White House Ordered Former Aides To Defy Congressional Subpoenas

Politico is reporting that the Trump White House instructed two former aides to defy subpoenas issued by a Congressional committee seeking documents related to possible obstruction of justice by Donald Trump.
Donald Trump

Politico is reporting that the Trump White House instructed two former aides to defy subpoenas issued by a Congressional committee seeking documents related to possible obstruction of justice by Donald Trump.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone reportedly told the Judiciary Committee that the two former West Wingers were directed not to comply with the subpoenas because they “do not have the legal right to disclose the White House records to third parties.”

The tactic didn’t work, it seems.

From Politico:

But one of those aides, Hope Hicks, a longtime Trump confidant who served as White House communications director, has turned over some documents to the House Judiciary Committee regarding her service on Trump’s presidential campaign, according to Jerry Nadler, the panel’s chairman.

He hailed the document production as a show of “good faith” and indicated that the committee will continue to negotiate with Hicks — as well as former White House deputy counsel Annie Donaldson — for the next few weeks as they attempt to arrange public testimony pursuant to the committee’s subpoenas.

Second Judge Rebuffs Trump, Refuses To Block Congressional Subpoenas

Donald Trump received another setback in court today as a second federal judge has refused to block Congressional subpoenas for Trump's financial records.
Donald Trump

Donald Trump received another setback in court today as a second federal judge has refused to block Congressional subpoenas for Trump’s financial records.

From CNN:

A second federal judge has now rebuffed President Donald Trump’s sweeping attempt to block House lawmakers from accessing his financial records, handing him another defeat in a fight that has infuriated the President and opened deep rifts with Democrats.

Judge Edgardo Ramos in New York on Wednesday refused to block subpoenas from the House of Representatives for Trump’s financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One. It’s the second such ruling against the President in three days.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump lashed out at Democrats for what he claimed were attempts to harass and undermine his presidency, declaring during an irate appearance in the Rose Garden he could no longer work with them as they proceed in their investigations.

The White House has stonewalled Democratic oversight requests, has refused to comply with subpoenas issued for information and is blocking former officials from testifying.

In a statement to CNBC after the ruling, a Deutsche Bank spokesman said, “We remain committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations and will abide by a court order regarding such investigations.”

This decision comes two days after a federal judge in Washington, D.C. ruled Trump’s accountants at the firm Mazars had to comply with a congressional subpoena for his financial records.

Trump has indicated he will appeal the Washington D.C. setback. For those who enjoy irony, it’s notable that the Chief Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is…Merrick Garland.

You’ll recall Garland was President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, but was never granted a vote on his nomination. Senate Republicans kept the SCOTUS seat open for a year blocking Garland’s appointment.