In a continuation of the behavior laid out in Robert Mueller’s report, Donald Trump is now trying to obstruct congressional investigations by blocking current and former White House officials from testifying to Congress.
At the top of the administration’s list of people they absolutely don’t want to testify is Don McGahn, the former White House counsel who gave Mueller key information on Trump’s obstruction efforts.
According to reporting, the White House is trying to assert executive privilege as a way of preventing McGahn’s testimony.
On Tuesday night, Rachel Maddow blew a massive hole in this plot, reminding the White House that they didn’t choose to assert executive privilege when it came to McGahn testifying to Mueller – so they have no grounds to do it now just because Democrats in the House are seeking to talk to him.
“You can’t say that material wasn’t privileged when he testified about it to Robert Mueller and then later try to say that that same material is covered by executive privilege if McGahn is asked to testify about it to some other body, to some other proceeding, to some other investigators,” the MSNBC host said.
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) April 24, 2019
When the White House cleared Don McGahn to go to the special counsel, to go to Mueller’s office and talk about everything he saw and participated in and heard while he was in the White House, when the White House, oops, cleared him to go do that, to go convey that information without restrictions to Robert Mueller and his investigators in the special counsel’s office, there it is, that was really important. By clearing him to do that, the Trump White House waived any claim they might otherwise have asserted that what Don McGahn saw and heard and witnessed in the Trump White Mouse might be covered by executive privilege and, therefore, couldn’t be discussed with anyone outside the White House. Executive privilege exists. If the White House chooses to assert that, that means that something that happened in the White House, something that happened in relation to the president can’t be conveyed outside of the original context in which it existed, in the White House with the president. It can’t go any further. If they had chosen to assert executive privilege to block Don McGahn from testifying about his time as White House counsel, they could have blocked him from testifying potentially to Robert Mueller about anything. But they didn’t. They had the chance to do it, but whoomp, they blew it. They let him go. You can’t say that material wasn’t privileged when he testified about it to Robert Mueller and then later try to say that that same material is covered by executive privilege if McGahn is asked to testify about it to some other body, to some other proceeding, to some other investigators. Material is either privileged or it’s not. And once you’ve let it out of the White House, you waived your right to assert that it is privileged. Oops.
Trump will lose his fight to obstruct congressional investigations
Following the release of Robert Mueller’s redacted report, Trump has been acting increasingly unhinged and lawless – and it hasn’t just been on display in his non-stop Twitter ramblings.
As Congress prepares to lean into its investigations, Trump has also stepped up his efforts to act as an authoritarian leader who is above the law. Every step of the way, he has rejected their requests – and demands – for documents related to ongoing congressional inquiries.
But as Rachel Maddow continues to point out, Trump has no legal footing when it comes to these matters. Congress has the authority to conduct oversight, even if he doesn’t like it.
That’s especially true after a two-year special counsel investigation released piles of troubling evidence that the sitting president repeatedly sought to obstruct justice.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.