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Law professor slams Trump team’s ‘distortions of facts’ as they try to shoot down congressional subpoenas

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President Donald Trump welcomed a court decision that allows military funds to be used to build the US-Mexico border wall (AFP Photo/CHIP SOMODEVILLA)

Writing for The Atlantic, University of Missouri Law professor Frank Bowman excoriated the White House legal team for their rationale against honoring congressional subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry.

“On Saturday, Trump’s lawyer Pat Philbin tried to extinguish any flickers of enlightened self-interest among Republicans by arguing that Trump was entitled to stonewall the House because the House hadn’t properly authorized its own subpoenas,” wrote Bowman. “Like so many contentions of the president’s defenders, this is malarkey thinly draped with plausible-sounding distortions of facts, rules, court opinions, and the Constitution itself.”

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First, as Bowman pointed out, all executive agencies under Article II — which the Trump team claims gives them absolute authority — only exist because Congress used its Article I powers to authorize and fund them. “Therefore, under the Constitution, Congress has both a responsibility and a right to inquire closely into the operations of the federal agencies, programs, and employees it authorizes, regulates, and funds. The power of inquiry includes the power to use subpoenas to compel production of testimony and documents. The Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized this ‘oversight power’ and held it to be ‘coextensive with the power to legislate.'”

“In addition to the oversight power implied by its legislative authority, Congress possesses enhanced constitutional authority under the impeachment clauses to inquire into the conduct of the president and other impeachable ‘civil officers,'” continued Bowman. “The ‘sole power of impeachment’ granted to the House of Representatives by Article II, Section 3, would be meaningless if the House could not compel production of the evidence necessary to determine whether impeachable conduct had occurred.” Moreover, he wrote, oversight and impeachment powers are not mutually exclusive — contrary to the White House argument, the president’s conduct is not exempt from standard oversight functions just because an impeachment inquiry is underway.

“The House subpoenaed more than 70 categories of documents from executive-branch agencies, including the Departments of State, Defense, and Energy, and the Office of Management and Budget, and received exactly zero documents in return,” wrote Bowman. “This categorical refusal is without precedent or legal justification.”

The president is also arguing that any subpoenas issued before the vote to begin an impeachment inquiry are invalid.

“If the Senate, or its Republican members, accept the devious justification for defiance of Congress offered by Trump’s lawyers, they will validate a strategy of complete obstruction of congressional inquiries by this and future presidents,” warned Bowman. “The result is not only to neuter the impeachment power, but more profoundly, to cripple the fundamental check on executive mismanagement, abuse, corruption, and overreach embodied in their own power of oversight.”

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Things are so bad for Republicans the GOP had to send money to Texas

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In 2016, then-anti-Trump Republican Sen. Linsey Graham proclaimed, "If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed.......and we will deserve it." It seems his prediction is coming closer to fruition.

Financial reporting reveals that the Republican Party was forced to send $1.3 million to ruby-red Texas as the election nears.

It was something spotted by ProPublica developer and ex-reporter Derek Willis Sunday.

"That's never happened before," he tweeted.

He noted that the Texas GOP raised $3.3 million in August, but nearly half of that came from their national parents.

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What the London ‘Blitz’ reveals about how much pain and tragedy people can handle in 2020

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It's hard to imagine how 2020 could possibly get worse. "If we lose Betty White," a friend said on a drive to the Supreme Court to lay flowers.

So many Americans have lost friends or family members to COVID-19. Thousands of Americans survived the virus only to desperately needed organ transplants and forever will struggle to breathe the way they once did. Others are still suffering without smell or taste even three months after having the virus. Millions of Americans are out of work. Debt is stacking up for those trying to survive in the COVID economy. A lack of health insurance can mean hospitalizations from the virus are putting people into bankruptcy.

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Stop trying to convince people you’re right — it will never persuade anyone: expert

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MSNBC host Joshua Johnson noted that this year has been full of strife, with Americans having a lot to stand up about. Whether the slaying of unarmed Black men and police brutality, or healthcare, and the coronavirus, Americans are lining up to protest.

Johnson asked if people try to start tough conversations, how do they keep it productive, and when it's time to give up. In her book, We Need to Talk, Celest Headlee explains tools that people can use to have productive conversations about tough issues that help move the needle.

"Keep in mind that a protest isn't a conversation, right?" she first began. "That's a different kind of communication. The first thing is that our goal in conversations is not always a productive one. In other words, oftentimes, we go into these conversations hoping to change somebody's mind or convince them that they are wrong. You're just never going to accomplish that. There's no evidence. We haven't been able to -- through years and years of research we haven't been able to find evidence that over a conversation somebody said, 'You're right, I was completely wrong.' You've convinced me. So, we have to stop trying to do that. We have to find a new purpose for those conversations."

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