According to a report at the Daily Beast, President Donald Trump has a two-pronged strategy to undermine every witness who could provide damaging information against as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry against him – and it is already in play.
In a nutshell, the White House and TRump’s most avid backers in Congress will claim that anyone who did not directly witness Trump committing any crimes will be dismissed as repeating “hearsay” and those who did witness it will be banned from testifying using executive privilege.
As the Beast reports, “Donald Trump asserts that testimony by witnesses who learned about his scheme to shake down Ukraine from other presidential advisers should be disregarded as ‘hearsay.’ Trump also asserts that John Bolton and other White House officials who were in the room with him are constitutionally ‘immune’ from congressional subpoenas. ”
Faced with a flood of subpoenas that are likely to increase as the impeachment inquiry goes forward, the White House is girding for a fight for the president’s survival.
The White House’s “claim that will be tested in court Thursday afternoon, when a federal court holds a hearing on Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman’s lawsuit seeking a ruling on whether he must comply with a congressional subpoena following “the assertion of immunity from congressional process made by the President.” Charles Cooper, Kupperman’s lawyer, is a former Reagan administration official who also represents John Bolton. Also on Thursday, an argument will be held in a separate proceeding brought by Congress to compel former White House Counsel Don McGahn’s testimony in the face of an earlier White House claim of immunity,” the Beast reports.
“By Trump’s through-the-looking-glass logic, witnesses who work outside the White House should be disregarded, while witnesses who were in the room for Trump’s alleged abuses of power first-hand may not be heard,” David Lurie reports. “Trump’s claim of ‘constitutional immunity’ goes well beyond an assertion of executive privilege, which is qualified, meaning that it can be overcome by a showing of sufficient need. The Supreme Court has ruled that otherwise potentially privileged presidential communications must be disclosed in law enforcement proceedings if they contain potential evidence of a crime. Congress likewise has a strong argument that a presidential executive privilege claim must give way during its impeachment inquiry.”
According to the report, Trump’s White House is attempting a Hail Mary in court with the hope of derailing the whole process.
“If the Supreme Court upholds Trump’s immunity argument against permitting the testimony of close presidential advisers and sufficient numbers of senators accept Graham’s argument for disregarding the so-called ‘hearsay’ testimony of Taylor and others, then Trump could deny critical evidence from Congress, thereby effectively rendering himself immune from impeachment and removal. At the very least, ongoing litigation might allow Trump to play for time,” the report explains, adding “It has long been understood that the immunity doctrine applies only to ‘close’ presidential advisers, defined as the most senior officials who assist the president on a daily basis and therefore constitute his alter egos. For this reason, some lower level, but still relatively senior officials, such as former National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill and Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman, have complied with congressional subpoenas for their testimony.”
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