Democrats are not happy that Don McGahn, Persident Trump’s legal adviser, skipped a Congressional hearing on Tuesday, even though Mr. McGahn has every constitutional right not to appear,
“Our subpoenas are not optional,” raged House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler for TV cameras. In front of him was an empty witness table with Mr. McGahn’s name card.
But as the WSJ explains, Congress cannot force one of President Trump’s intimate advisers to appear before Congress.
The reason is rooted in the Constitution’s separation of powers and co-equal branches of government. The White House can’t compel a Member of Congress to visit the Oval Office, and likewise Congress can’t compel a President to appear on Capitol Hill.
Looking for a Show
Nadler is not expecting to learn anything new. He wants a show.
(Nadler) wants to use Mr. McGahn as a prop to spend three hours claiming that Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the Mueller investigation. Yet Mr. Mueller wasn’t obstructed in any way, his copious report was released for all to see, and there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Mr. McGahn can be forgiven for declining the honor of appearing in Mr. Nadler’s pseudo-impeachment drama.
Mr. Nadler’s “contempt” ruling, if he follows through, also carries no legal authority under the Constitution. If Congress can’t compel the testimony of a close presidential adviser, it can’t hold him in contempt for protecting the President’s proper powers by refusing to testify.
Mr. Nadler is showing his contempt—for the separation of powers.
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