The Kaiser of Chaos has lost his bid to invoke executive privilege on documents sought by the House Dipshit Insurrection Select Committee. Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected the Former Guy’s argument that he was above the law. That was his effective argument, not his actual one. Even his shitty-n-shifty lawyers wouldn’t make such a specious argument. They dressed it up with legalisms, but it still went down in flames. One could even say it was pantsed…
The ball is now in the Justice Department’s court. On October 21st, the full House of Representatives voted to hold Mr. Unmade Bed dba as Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with Congressional subpoenas. That’s 20 days for the DC US Attorney’s office to decide whether to press the charges in court. The last time such a citation was issued it took 8 days for charges to be brought.
As with most things, the media has gotten this process wrong. The initial decision belongs to the DC US Attorney’s office. Since it’s a high-profile case Attorney General Garland’s role in the process is to confirm or reject the decision made by his subordinates. Presumably, the Bannon case has landed in Judge Garland’s lap by now.
There’s a strong possibility that Garland was waiting for a ruling in the Trump executive privilege case before moving against Bannon. If so, the time is nigh to move forward with the criminal charges against the contemptible Bannon.
My legal hero Larry Tribe was on The Last Word with Laurence O’Donnell last night. Merrick Garland was one of his students. Professor Tribe had some unsolicited and unvarnished advice for him:
Now, the only thing I can imagine my former student Merrick Garland thinking why he hasn`t acted already and I really think he should have, he`s smart enough. The case is clear. The statute says when Congress refers someone in contempt of Congress, refers them to prosecution, the U.S. attorney should convene a grand jury. The only possible argument is there are a couple of legal counsel one in 1980 and one in 2008 that suggest that when executive privilege protects the assertion by someone that he or she cannot compile with a congressional subpoena, the department should not prosecute.
Well, perhaps Merrick Garland being a good lawyer and wanting to dot his is and cross his T`s was waiting to hear a court say the executive privilege doesn`t apply to the former president when the current president doesn`t assert that privilege and when there is a legitimate need for the information. If that`s what he was waiting for, he got it tonight and if he does not move immediately will be inexcusable.
Like Professor Tribe, I’ve been patient with Judge Garland thus far. He has the herculean task of restoring DOJ’s good name and the morale of its people. Jeff Beau Sessions, Bill Barr, and the acting AGs brought DOJ into disrepute. It’s not an easy job.
DOJ has made some good moves in the areas of abortion and voting rights BUT it’s been largely silent on the abuses of the Trump regime. My hope has been that they’re methodically investigating the last four years and are keeping quiet so as not to let the bad guys know what they’re up to. The best investigations are opaque, not transparent. I remain cautiously optimistic that that’s the case in this case. That’s a whole lotta cases.
Having said that, it’s time for Garland to piss or get off the pot on the Bannon case. Bannon’s claim of executive privilege is even more laughable than that of the Impeached Insult Comedian. It’s time for the Attorney General to give line prosecutors the green light to go after Bannon and others who flaunt Congressional authority.
I remain less harsh on Garland than many observers. Going after a former president* is not an easy choice. Placing Donald Trump in the dock might inspire the Democratic base BUT it will inflame Trumpers.
A reminder that a convicted felon can still run for president as did Eugene V Debs in 1920. Impeachment and conviction were the only way to permanently bar the Kaiser of Chaos from federal office. That’s why any prosecutorial decision to charge Trump himself should be a legal, not a political one.
I, too, am tired of waiting for Garland. I hope that, unlike Godot, he will show up and go after Trumper scofflaws like Bannon.
The last word goes to The Who: