Lawyers for the Trump Justice Department stunned a federal judge Tuesday by arguing courts in 1974 were wrong to approve the release of Watergate documents to Congress during the impeachment inquiry into President Richard Nixon.
According to Politico‘s Darren Samuelsohn, Justice Department attorney Elizabeth Shapiro said during a hearing that if the Watergate case came before the court today, there would be a “different result.”
“Wow, okay,” responded U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell. “The department is taking an extraordinary position in this case.”
DEVELOPING Trump Justice Dept. asks U.S. judge to reject House Judiciary Committee request for Mueller grand jury materials, argues courts in 1974 wrongly gave Congress the Watergate grand jury 'roadmap' that led to President Nixon's impeachment.
— Spencer Hsu (@hsu_spencer) October 8, 2019
"Wow, O.K.," responded U.S. Chief District Judge Beryl A. Howell of Washington, D.C., sounding unpersuaded. "As I said, the department is taking an extraordinary position in this case."
— Spencer Hsu (@hsu_spencer) October 8, 2019
The exchange came during arguments on the House Judiciary Committee’s subpoena for the grand jury evidence behind former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
Observers on social media echoed Judge Howell’s stunned reaction to the Justice Department’s argument.
“You know you’re on the wrong side of history—and the law—when you’re arguing that Nixon turned over too many documents,” tweeted Chris Yu, fellow at the Miller Center.
Others piled on:
Literally relitigating Watergate! https://t.co/NZhYFQxKQV
— Dan Froomkin (@froomkin) October 8, 2019
The DOJ has been diminished to arguing that Nixon’s impeachment inquiry was illegal in order to protect Trump. https://t.co/yxdyESuxEi
— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) October 8, 2019
Shorter version: Trump admin argues in court that Nixon was treated SO unfairly. https://t.co/D3z4ZDiopb
— Susan Glasser (@sbg1) October 8, 2019
Politico reported that attorneys for the Justice Department said House Democrats “should be denied access to the Mueller grand jury materials, arguing that a congressional impeachment proceeding doesn’t meet the criteria to release them.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement following Tuesday’s hearing that he is “confident” in Democrats’ case.
“We are gratified at the seriousness with which the court addressed our petition for grand jury information relating to the House impeachment inquiry,” said Nadler. “We remain confident in our case and look forward to the resolution of this matter.”
CNN conservative zaps every Trump supporters’ argument against impeachment
Republican-turned-Independent David Gergen served in four presidential administrations, two of which were impeached. When he heard one of President Donald Trump's shills on CNN Wednesday evening, he was quick to flatten the argument.
Scott Jennings argued that what Democrats were doing was unprecedented, but CNN commentator Kirsten Powers said that former President Bill Clinton was nearly thrown out of office for lying about an affair, something she argued was far less important than extorting a foreign power to sway a presidential election.
Seth Meyers flattens Trump’s latest impeachment defense tactic — ‘slurring like a lunatic’ during rallies
Late-night comedian Seth Meyers observed that most people who were inches from being fired from their job would try and prove that they should remain. President Donald Trump, however, has taken a different path, "slurring like a lunatic while throwing in some of his trademark sexism."
Meyers played a clip of Trump's rally where he went after everything from admitting he demanded the Ukraine president say what he asked and an allegation that there'd be windmills all over the country under Hillary Clinton. Trump previously alleged that wind energy is dangerous because the windmills cause ear cancer. After an attack on Beto O'Rourke, Trump turned to Elizabeth Warren, who he said, "opened her fresh mouth."
Rachel Maddow wonders if Putin told Trump Seoul was nowhere near North Korea to mess with him
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was flabbergasted by the recent revelation that Trump thought he could displace an entire South Korean city so that the 2,000 year-old capital would be safer. To make matters worse, President Donald Trump asked Russian President Vladimir Putin what he wanted the U.S. leader to do with North Korea.
The host compared the move to what it would be like to move the entirety of New York City, which has a smaller population than Seoul.