Democratic lawmakers went on the record to threaten Rudy Giuliani with jail for contempt, while gun-shy representatives hid behind their aides to express discomfort with punitive measures.
President Donald Trump’s personal attorney has thumbed his nose at House Democrats, saying he would ignore a subpoena he was served for documents related to his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, reported The Daily Beast.
“You don’t get to say no to a congressional subpoena,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “That’s not a thing, that is a crime. He’s going to show up, or he’s going to get fined, or he’s going to go to jail.”
Congress has the authority to hold uncooperative witnesses in inherent contempt, which empowers lawmakers to take them into custody until they comply with congressional orders.
“This is another example of why the House needs to revisit inherent contempt,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA). “We need to enforce our own subpoenas. We can and we should.”
But some lawmakers are wary of launching a court battle over holding Giuliani and other Trump associates accountable would delay what they see as an open-and-shut impeachment case against the president.
“We have this very clear and compelling evidence right out in front, and in the president’s own words, and it’s already been corroborated and confirmed by a bunch of first-person witnesses,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA). “I think we’ve got this, and in some ways we are now gilding the lily.”
House Democrats are largely unified in support of an impeachment inquiry that’s growing more popular each week with the public, but they’re a bit more divided over Giuliani and other uncooperative Trump allies.
“If the administration, and the president’s private sector accomplices, are going to follow through on their promise not to comply with the investigation, including ignoring lawful subpoenas, and if the only recourse (court action) allows them to run out the clock on an active criminal scheme involving U.S. national security and elections, then the House has no choice but impeachment,” said one House Democratic aide.
Another Democratic aide said the evidence was strong enough for impeachment that fighting Giuliani in court was a waste of time.
“They already have the Watergate tapes,” that House aide said.