Josh Chafetz, a constitutional scholar and a professor of law at Cornell University, believes that President Donald Trump's current stonewalling of congressional subpoenas is unprecedented in recent American history -- and he thinks it's why House Democrats must be open to impeaching him if it continues.
Writing on Twitter this week, Chafetz took issue with conservative legal scholar Michael McConnell citing his own work to argue that Trump's decision to refuse all congressional subpoenas is well within the bounds of historical norms.
In particular, Chafetz noted that past presidents have resisted congressional subpoenas for specific pieces of information, but they have not simply stiff-armed all congressional oversight requests as illegitimate.
"As I've told numerous reporters this week, when Bush II / Obama / et al. had their disputes with Congress over access to information, it was about very specific information demands (US Attorney firings, Fast & Furious, etc.), and the rest of oversight went on as usual," he said. "The Trump Administration's stance of ignoring "all subpoenas" is in my mind different not just in degree but in kind. It's not a claim that Congress doesn't deserve access to some particular information; it's a claim that Congress doesn't deserve access to any information."
Chafetz called this "radically" at odds with past norms -- and he said that denying Congress any right to oversee the executive branch constitutes an "impeachable" offense.
"One of the ways that such exchanges are kept within tolerable limits is by the threat of extreme measures, like impeachment," he said. "So to suggest that impeachment should be off the table here strikes me as doubly wrong."
Read the whole thread below.
2/ As I've told numerous reporters this week, when Bush II / Obama / et al. had their disputes with Congress over a… https://t.co/70IEx0L51Q— Josh Chafetz (@Josh Chafetz) 1556739420.0
4/ That, in turn, amounts to a claim that Congress has no legitimate oversight role. And that claim is radically di… https://t.co/D8n04zRaCP— Josh Chafetz (@Josh Chafetz) 1556739560.0
6/ McConnell suggests that this is just normal interbranch back-and-forth--as I noted above, I think the Trump Admi… https://t.co/WeeAI8Qfdj— Josh Chafetz (@Josh Chafetz) 1556739826.0
7/7 ... even if it is normal, one of the ways that such exchanges are kept within tolerable limits is by the threat… https://t.co/MPQRbi14Zk— Josh Chafetz (@Josh Chafetz) 1556739865.0