An obscure law from 1974 gives far more power to Congress than the attorney general or the White House seems to realize.
According to the Daily Beast, Congress has the right to review all the evidence that went into the Mueller report and question any and all witnesses named.
Both President Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have worked diligently to obstruct any Congressional investigation surrounding the Mueller report.
As Mueller explained, “under longstanding [Department of Justice] department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional.” But Mueller also said, that the policy, which outlined formal opinions, also says “that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” That process is, of course, impeachment.
Congress has resisted taking the leap, knowing that any trial would be done through the U.S. Senate and likely wouldn't be taken seriously by Republicans who pledge their allegiance to the president.
Trump has claimed that Congress is seeking to conduct a "do over" investigation, but the reality is Congress is the only entity that can discern if the president engaged in "high crimes or misdemeanors."
"Yet, without access to the underlying evidence, Congress cannot perform its constitutionally assigned responsibility to adjudge the president," the Beast wrote.
Judges have been unwilling to reject the White House stonewalling, but the White House thinks that the Trump-appointed judges will choose him over the law.
In a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals, it was decided that under impeachment, Congress takes on the role of the judicial branch. That decision came from one of Trump's own appointees.
"Thus, the House serves much like a grand jury, by reviewing the evidence and determining whether to bring charges in the form of articles of impeachment, while the Senate serves much like a petit jury, hearing evidence presented by the House, and deciding whether to convict the president and remove him from office," the Beast wrote.
Any trial where evidence was withheld would ultimately be considered invalid. "For that reason, the same federal appeals court decided in 1974 that the House had the right to review [the] evidence presented by prosecutors to the grand jury in the Watergate investigation in connection with its review of potential grounds for impeaching President Nixon," the Beast wrote. Under the Clinton investigation, Congress was given similar access. So, it's unclear why now, Barr and Trump are refusing to turn over information.
The Beast explained that if Trump could legally withhold evidence from Congress it would mean he couldn't be impeached or charged, which runs in conflict with the idea no president is above the law.
Mueller has delivered Congress the roadmap to impeach, now it's time they are given the evidence Mueller had.