According to a report from Politico, House leaders have developed a new plan to get what are called “star witnesses” to appear in public hearings who are outside of Donald Trump’s ability to block them from speaking by asserting executive privilege.
With former Oval Office employees avoiding or ignoring subpoenas as the White House runs interference for them, investigators are eyeing people who were close to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign — but were not government employees.
According to the report, those Trump associates could include former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
As the report notes, “Other Russia-related figures who never served in Trump’s administration and would make for prime congressional witnesses include Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, the former top campaign officials who both pleaded guilty and faced extensive questioning by federal prosecutors working on the Mueller probe, as well as a former attorney for Michael Flynn who is cited in the special counsel’s report in an episode involving a dangled presidential pardon.”
According to House Judiciary committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the strategy gives them an end-around more presidential obstruction.
“These people could be called without any reasonable shred of a claim of executive privilege,” he asserted.
According to Politico, Trump’s lawyers are already preparing the legal groundwork to block the Democrat’s latest move in a letter to the House Oversight Committee last month.
“The Executive Branch’s confidentiality interests are not limited solely to communications directly involving the President and other Executive Branch officials,” wrote Michael Purpura, a deputy White House counsel. “Rather, a President and his senior advisers must frequently consult with individuals outside of the Executive Branch, and those communications are also subject to protection.”
Rep. David Cicilline (RI), a senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, shot that suggestion down, by stating, “They don’t have any privilege,” before conceding the committee would ask them to appear voluntarily before issuing subpoenas.
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