The Trump White House is claiming that former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks is under no obligation to cooperate with House Democrats in their probe of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and that she enjoys “absolute immunity.” But attorney Julian Epstein, former Democratic chief counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, stressed during an appearance on CNN on Wednesday that there is no such thing as “absolute immunity” where Hicks is concerned — and that Hicks, having likely waved executive privilege, might want to invoke the U.S. Constitution’s 5th Amendment to protect herself.
“Absolute immunity would be a claim by the White House that none of the staff or the president need to answer any questions in a congressional proceeding or a legal proceeding,” Epstein explained to CNN, quickly adding that when President Richard Nixon tried to claim absolute immunity during the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that there was no such thing.
Epstein went on to say, “What there is there is executive privilege, but executive privilege is very, very narrow.” And Hicks, Epstein added, likely waived executive privilege when she spoke to Mueller’s office during the Russia investigation.
“Even if there was a legitimate legal claim on executive privilege,” Epstein asserted, “it does not extend to obstruction of justice or her role in potential illegal behavior.”
Epstein added that Hicks “may want to invoke the 5th Amendment because I think that she actually has some legal exposure going forward. I could see her invoking a privilege on self-incrimination. But executive privilege is not a serious claim. It’s kicking the can down the road. It’s a political maneuver by the White House.”
Not only does executive privilege probably not offer Hicks legal shelter, Epstein stressed, but also, Hicks isn’t protected by “absolute immunity” because such a thing —according to the U.S. Supreme Court — doesn’t really exist.
“What the White House is doing is invoking a blanket privilege that the courts have said does not exist,” Epstein told CNN. “They know it doesn’t exist.”
Trump’s racism is ‘disqualifying’ for him to remain as president: former White House lawyer
Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal explained on MSNBC on Thursday why he viewed President Donald Trump's racist attacks on four women of color in Congress as disqualifying.
Anchor Brian Williams read a quote from Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.
"Half of the country is appalled but not really sure how to combat him; the other half is cheering, or at least averting its gaze. This is what a political civil war looks like, with words, for now, as weapons," Glasser wrote.
Lawrence O’Donnell reports on the growing movement for the impeachment of President Donald Trump
Anchor Lawrence O'Donnell reported on the growing movement for the impeachment of President Donald Trump during Thursday evening's "The Last Word" on MSNBC.
"The House of Representatives conducted a symbolic vote on a hastily written impeachment resolution by Democratic Congressman Al Green in reaction to the president’s tweeted comments that the House of Representatives voted to condemn as racist," O'Donnell reported. "The impeachment resolution had nothing to do with the [Robert] Mueller investigation and referred only to the president being unfit for office because of the language that he has used recently about members of Congress and immigrants and asylum seekers."
Video proves how far the Trump’s GOP has gone from the era of Ronald Reagan and HW Bush
The immigration policies of Donald Trump’s presidency would have no room for his GOP predecessors Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush—who both embraced work visas, family unification, easy border crossings and a better relationship with Mexico.
That counterpoint can be seen in a very short video clip from the 1980 presidential election where Reagan and Bush—who became Reagan’s vice president for two terms before winning the presidency in 1988—were asked about immigration at a campaign debate in Texas. Their responses show just how far to the right the Republican Party’s current leader, President Trump, and voters who have not left the GOP to become self-described political independents, have moved on immigration.