Former White House counsel John Dean, a key figure in the Watergate scandal, said Wednesday on CNN that there was a serious flaw in the attempt to prevent longtime Trump confidant Hope Hicks from testifying to Congress.
White House lawyers have asserted that Hicks has absolute immunity and is not legally required to testify about her time as Trump’s director of communications. Hicks testified Wednesday during a closed-door hearing before the House Judiciary Committee — where she reportedly refused to answer questions about her White House job.
“Privilege is not being asserted here. Instead, the White House says that Hicks has absolute immunity regarding the time that she spent at 1600 Pennsylvania. Does absolute immunity even exist? And if so, can you explain to me the difference between the two?” CNN host Brooke Baldwin asked Dean.
“There is no such thing as absolute immunity for anybody to appear before Congress,” he replied. “When the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Nixon case, they absolutely said that there was no absolute privilege, rather it had to be weighed in each instance as to the needs for those who are asking for the information and the person who’s resisting giving the information.”
“Absolute privileges are very rare in the law. And they’re always this balancing process. This total immunity is part of the so-called executive theory of unitary executive theory that will theoretically make the person immune to Congress. And that just doesn’t play in our system.”
“What about, let’s keep this in mind that Hope Hicks, unlike so many current and former White House aides, she has testified before Congress, she did speak with Mueller, she has turned over documents. So what do you make of that?” Baldwin asked.
“I understand she didn’t give very much testimony when she appeared and she claimed some sort of privilege then as well. So we don’t have that transcript either,” Dean said.
“But the fact that she went to Mueller — the grand jury has really established its ability to pierce presidential privilege. That happened in U.S. versus Nixon. But the court spoke in broader terms generally. While we’ve never had a case directly resolving the powers of Congress versus the power of the president over information, I think that’s where Trump wants to go. He wants to stall as long as he can. There’s nothing — this is just clearly, as many members of Congress are calling it, a cover up we’re watching.”
Here’s how Mike Pence could step in to sabotage the impeachment trial in the Senate
Vice President Mike Pence could ultimately end up playing a significant role in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial — and ensure that the case against the president isn't even properly presented.
Pence, being the vice president, is also president of the Senate. And as such, he has the power to resolve ties when senators deadlock. In terms of the final vote to convict, Pence will not need to break any ties, because 67 votes are required. But many other aspects of the Senate trial will be decided by a simple majority, including the rules package, and whether to override Chief Justice John Roberts' decisions on what evidence and testimony is admissible. And so even if a few Republicans break with their party on these issues, Pence may be able to step in and ensure the trial is conducted the way Trump wants it to be.
‘Useful Idiots’: Tonight’s impeachment debate will show how the GOP is now the ‘Grand Old Putin’ party
When Congress begins debating changes in the articles of impeachment Wednesday night, we will see on full display how Congressional Republicans, to defend Donald Trump, have given up any pretense of principle, the rule of law and loyalty to the country.
House Republicans have embraced Trump’s win-for-Trump-at-all-costs philosophy.
Think of them as the kind of cowards who would never jump on a hand grenade, but would instinctively push the person next to them onto the explosive. This is a political extension of the economic philosophy that we’ve got ours, tough for you, in Republican tax, spend and regulatory policy,
Republicans plan to flood House with amendments to sabotage impeachment debate: CNN
On Wednesday, CNN congressional correspondent Manu Raju reported that House Republicans are planning to use the markup process for the articles of impeachment, scheduled to take place on Thursday, to introduce a flood of amendments designed to cripple the process.
None of these amendments are likely to have the votes to pass — but they will force House Democrats to waste time voting them down rather than crafting the particulars of their case.
"Tomorrow is when we see the real art of legislating on Capitol Hill," said Raju. "The House Judiciary Committee will consider votes on amendments to the articles of impeachment. Republicans are expected to offer a flurry of amendments aimed at undercutting the articles, to gut the articles, and the democrats are expected to beat back every single one of them. Those votes expected to be along party lines."