jollyroger's picture

    March, 2019. Clyburn's first subpoena ignored by Mulvaney (eg.) Contempt citation issues, is sent to Justice Department for prosecution. Wait, what?

    Walk me through this, ye apostles of law and order.


    Assuming, arguendo, that Clyburn's paperwork sits, and sits, and sits some more, how is the  oversight that we all anticipate with hopeful longing vindicated again?


    Asking for a friend...


    off thread interlude for a netiquette nicety: good to see you back here, miss not having a lefty around that's not into dragging everyone to the lowest common denominator, and has a sense of humor to boot.

    I don't have an answer to your question though. Sorry. Proceed.

    Well, I suppose I am obliquely impugning the professionalism of the Department of Justice (pearl clutchers welcome.)


    As I understand the process, a failure to comply with a congressional subpoena that is enforceable by a contempt of congress charge must ultimate in pursuit by the appropriate US Attorney's office of an indictment.


    I'm guessing that, since Congressional Committees "live" in DC, the US Attorney for DC would be the office out of which such an indictment would issue, and, of course, this (normally non-discretionary) act can be "slow walked" or even "no walked" without an obvious remedy available to the Congressional Committee Chair who requested the enforcement action.


    As I game this through, I do see a glimmer of a workaround, viz, the committee could hold it's hearing in a venue other than DC (I think they do go on the road when the optics suggest) to a city where the US Attorney had not yet been thoroughly suborned to serve the despot.


    That said, it is not immediately clear to me that if the DOJ , institutionally, simply sits on the request for an indictment, other than the political costs that might arise from a "furor", there is anything a chairman can do.

    Steve Vladek weighs in:

    Early in American history, Congress punished contempt itself — exercising an inherent contempt power through which offending witnesses were held in the Old Capitol Jail until they provided the sought-after testimony or the end of that session of Congress, whichever came first. But the Old Capitol Jail is long gone, and Congress’s inherent contempt power has lain dormant ever since. Instead, contempt of Congress today is usually handled through an 1857 federal statute, codified today at 2 U.S.C. § 192, which authorizes Congress to certify a contempt citation to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution.

    That requires the Justice Department to agree to bring the prosecution, though; Congress cannot force the Justice Department to prosecute anyone for anything. And it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which this Justice Department would be in no particular hurry to prosecute executive branch officials who, at the president’s insistence, have defied congressional subpoenas — perhaps even after the courts have rejected the grounds on which the subpoenas were defied.


    The "money shot': "If we get to that point, we could be at a constitutional impasse."

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