We haven’t done a Morning Briefing in a while, but now that Game of Thrones is over, I suppose we have to get our daily devastation somewhere, so here goes:
— The President is trying to block his former White House counsel, Don McGahn, from testifying in front of the House of Representatives today, and their legal argument is for sh*t. The White House had first attempted an executive privilege argument, but they already waved that by allowing McGahn — who detailed at least two potential obstructions of justice incidents involving the President ordering McGahn to fire Mueller and also ordering McGahn to lie about Trump trying to fire Mueller — to speak to Mueller. So, the White House’s new legal argument is based on separation of powers, specifically that Congress cannot compel Presidential advisors to testify. The White House memo in support of this argument cites no supporting case law. The White House is just making up stuff, and when the argument loses in Court, Trump will just say, “Doesn’t count. It was an Obama-appointed judge.”
It’ll keep McGahn from testifying today, although he will likely be cited for contempt. Eventually, however, I think that McGahn will be forced to testify.
— In the meantime, a lower court has ordered Trump to abide by a subpoena demanding years of Trump financial records. “It is simply not fathomable,” the judge wrote, “that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct - past or present - even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.” Trump called the ruling “crazy,” and obviously will appeal.
— Of course, the House could get around a lot of the obstruction into the investigation of obstruction by simply impeaching Trump, and whether the Senate would convict or not seems almost beside the point: It would allow the Democrats to compel individuals to testify, and it would allow them to compel certain documents, because there would no longer be an argument about whether the subpoenas have a “legitimate legislative intent,” because the intent is to impeach.
More and more Democrats are pushing for impeachment, and now even one Republican — Michigan Congressman Justin Amash — thinks that Trump should be impeached. Pelosi, who is all about them polls, is steadfastly refusing. From The Washington Post:
At least five members of Pelosi’s leadership team — four of whom also sit on the House Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over impeachment — pressed Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a closed-door leadership meeting to allow the panel to start an inquiry, which they argued would help investigators attain documents and testimony that Trump has blocked.
Several hours later, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler met with Pelosi as well and made the case to start the inquiry, he later told his panel member on a call.
Pelosi declined to endorse the idea both times, according to the officials either in or familiar with what happened in both meetings. She and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) argued that such an inquiry would undercut other House investigations — or that the idea was not supported by other members in the caucus.
I understand Pelosi’s position. She wants to win in 2020, and she believes that Senate Republicans will not convict, thereby boosting Trump’s popularity, as it did after the Senate failed to convict Bill Clinton. This is different. Trump’s approval rating is what it is. It is steady. 99.5 percent of America has already made up their minds about Trump.
Losing an impeachment battle will not improve Trump’s approval rating. If anything, it will hurt Republicans who refuse to convict Trump despite overwhelming evidence of guilt. It illustrates to the other 58 percent of America that the only way to check Trump’s power is to elect Democrats, because Republicans aren’t doing sh*t to hold the President accountable.
Democrats, in fact, should use whatever tools they have at their disposal because we have a President who is openly threatening to sic the Attorney General on his political enemies. And he’s absolutely right: He has a partisan AG who will do it (this is a terrible, awful thought, but Jeff Sessions was better):
Trump accuses the FBI and Democrats of treason. He then has to pause as his fans chant, "lock them up!"— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 21, 2019
"We have a great new attorney general who will give it a very fair look," Trump says. ðŸ‘€ pic.twitter.com/TNEoVny7pJ
Meanwhile, the President continues to take cues from Fox News, and plans a number of pardons for U.S. servicemen who killed civilians, murdered wounded combatants, posed with their corpses, and urinated on them. The idea for those potential pardons all came from Fox News host Pete Hegseth.
Of course, Trump still gets pissy with Fox News if they allow a Democrat to appear on the network for a town hall, because Trump feels that the network should be supporting him and him only.
I also saw in that same rally that Trump was shitting on Joe Biden with the Pennsylvania crowd, ranting that Biden “abandoned them” to move to Delaware. Uh, Biden’s parents relocated to Delaware when Biden was 10 years old. I don’t think Biden had much say in the matter.
— Finally, that evil motherf**ker Kris Kobach, is potentially up as “immigration czar.” He has submitted an insane list of demands. It’ll be even more insane when Trump gives into those demands.
So Kris Kobach submitted a list of 10 demands to Trump to take the position of "immigration czar." @maggieNYT and @anniekarni have the full list in this scoop —> https://t.co/xQrdORfuAc pic.twitter.com/lXb8QL75bk— Nick Corasaniti (@NYTnickc) May 20, 2019
(Yeah, I have no idea what’s going on with that photo of Angela Bassett with Bill Maher and Woody Harrelson.)