Rachel Maddow breaks down Democrats’ plan to imprison Trump officials who defy Congressional subpoenas
The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC (screengrab)

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Friday examined the options available to Congress and President Donald Trump vows to ignore all subpoenas.

"Meanwhile, the Democrats in Congress are over the course of this week, they have been assessing their options for how to deal with the White House and the administration now that the president has decreed that all subpoenas will be defied, that no information will be handed over to congressional investigations," Maddow explained. "That they will not allow the handing over of any documents, they will not allow any testimony -- even with legally actionable subpoenas."

"Well, how are they going to enforce that? What are their options?" Maddow asked. "Bloomberg was first to report this week that at the Judiciary Committee, the chairman there, Jerry Nadler (D-NY), is considering fines, is considering financial penalties for any person who does not comply with the subpoena from Congress."

"Nadler has also reportedly suggested that federal officials who refuse to obey subpoenas could even be jailed," she explained.

"And I know that sounds jarring," Maddow continued. "But that prospect has now been echoed by Congressman Jerry Connolly (D-VA), who sits on the Oversight Committee and says to CNN, 'we will go to the max to enforce the Constitutional role of the legislative branch of government including explicitly saying that may involve incarcerating some people who defy subpoenas.'"

"The same sentiment echoed by Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL), who also on the Oversight Committee," Maddow continued. "She now tells MSNBC, 'we'll be talking about fines, we'll talk about actually putting people in jail that are not cooperating if we have to go to that extreme."

"The same sentiment was echoed Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) from the Judiciary Committee now citing a precedent from the 1930s in which an assistant secretary of Commerce really was jailed for contempt of Congress, jailed for defying a subpoena, to show up and testify and produce documents," Maddow continued. "I should say, in that case from the 1930s when that assistant commerce secretary was jailed, they jailed him at least for a while at the Willard Hotel in DC because they didn't feel they had a suitable jail. The Willard Hotel was then and is now quite nice, so that might have softened the whole Constitutional confrontation part of that standoff."

"I mean, jailing government officials and regular American citizens who defy legally actionable subpoenas from Congressional committees, that is literally what was threatened by Watergate Committee Chairman Sam Ervin in 1973 when the Nixon White House tried to stop federal employees from testifying to that committee, specifically, White House counsel John Dean," Maddow noted.

"After the Nixon White House tried to block Nixon aides -- including John Dean -- from testifying to that committee, Sam Ervin literally called the press conference and said he would issue arrest warrants for any officials who didn't turn up to testify," she reminded. "And of course, we know they did ultimately turn up to testify."

Maddow tried to put the news in perspective.

"But I mean, even looking at the whole historical record on that and the number of times that's been hinted at or threatened -- we're there," Maddow noted. "We have already jumped right to the point where subpoenas are being defied and jail is being threatened. I mean, right away, we are up to that point again within eight days of the redacted Mueller report being made public."

"And it still is only the redacted version," she added.