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‘Time to go to court’: Former prosecutors explain how Democrats can still uncover whistleblower scandal

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Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance/MSNBC screen shot

The White House is doing whatever it takes to obstruct any investigation into a recent whistleblower complaint, but two former prosecutors have ideas for what Congress should do next.

This week it was revealed that President Donald Trump said something so concerning to a foreign leader that a senior intelligence officer filed a complaint. The officer then filed for whistleblower protections. A series of actions are outlined in the law for the next steps, but Trump and his appointed officials in the White House have worked to stymie the process the law requires.

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During an MSNBC discussion Sunday, former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance and former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks explained that the actions by the Trump leaders are clear violations of the law. The next step for Congress is that it’s time to go to court.

Wine-Banks explained that during Watergate she and other prosecutors were able to get expedited hearings, but in this case, that’s being blocked by Trump’s appointees.

“So, what the Democrats need to do is to focus their attention on one or two things and to really pursue those,” she suggested. “They can focus possibly on this latest episode, which, for some reason, seems to have more legs than most of the allegations against the president because this one shows that there’s a possibility that our national security is being threatened. This is an action that’s been taken by the president, not a candidate, but by the president for his own personal benefit. He’s used both his personal defense lawyer and the State Department to arrange the meetings for his personal defense lawyer. He has asked for something that is of benefit when he now well-knows that asking for foreign help is illegal. So, we need to take action.”

Wednesday, Congress will ask questions of the current acting director of national intelligence, who was legally ordered to turn over the whistleblower complaint to Congress within seven days of the inspector general opinion.

“No one, I don’t think, ever fully anticipated a president who would consider himself so firmly above the law that he wouldn’t engage in any sort of accommodation practice with Congress,” Vance began in her explanation of what Congress should do. “You know, in the past obviously presidents don’t like to be questioned, often don’t want to turn over information. So, there’s an accommodation process.”

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She noted that the information could go first to the Gang of Eight, which are the top eight leaders in the House and Senate. Still, however, the Trump administration is obstructing.

“So, the House Intelligence Committee with the director of national intelligence testifying has an opportunity to ask him questions, I think, about substance perhaps in a closed setting. But in a public setting, they can ask about the process,” Vance continued. “They can ask him to clarify how does the whistle-blower process work within your area of responsibility, and what did the inspector general do here? And doesn’t the law say you’re obligated to send that to us in Congress? And why didn’t you? Why did you take it to the Justice Department? Was the White House involved? There are all of these process questions, and I think getting answers to them may be very illuminating right now.”

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2020 Election

REVEALED: Far-right extremists are circulating plans to lock down Arizona streets if Trump is re-elected

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On Saturday, The Arizona Republic reported that far-right paramilitary groups are circulating plans to lock down neighborhoods in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area in the event that President Donald Trump is re-elected, supposedly to police left-wing protesters.

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2020 Election

Conservatives are hopping mad that their clumsy Hunter Biden smear is a flop

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GOP insiders give Pence little chance of ever being president after four years spent defending Trump: report

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On Saturday, writing for The Washington Post, Ben Terris reported that many Republican consultants and insiders believe that Vice President Mike Pence's presidential ambitions are doomed, for several reasons.

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