In June 2007, former Vice President Dick Cheney — already no stranger to wantonly abusing his power — became the undisputed World Heavyweight Champion of Chutzpah when he informed the National Archives they had no rights to his office’s paperwork because the vice president was not part of the executive branch. He claimed that he was part of the legislative branch because he was the Senate president.
Take a second with that; it’s a bit to encompass. Constitutional scholars of every stripe blanched at the very notion… and it gets better. Rather than comply when pressed, Cheney’s staffers over in the Old Executive Office Building tried to abolish tHe Information Security Oversight Office, the National Archives division tasked with running Cheney’s papers to ground. When informed of Cheney’s highly unusual clash, the recently deceased Sen. Harry Reid was heard to quip, “I always thought that he was president of this administration.”
Cheney had a 14-year, admirable run with the title. But, it has been officially overthrown by the only man in America who is shameless enough to pull it off: Former President Donald Trump. Yesterday, Trump’s crackerjack-box legal team asked the Supreme Courtto block the release documents for the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol Attack. What is the reason? The committee could actually discover Trump and his people committed a grave error. Right? That’s right!
Specific to Trump’s awe-inspiring legal complaint is an interview given to The Washington PostBennie Thompson, chairman committee. During the interview, Thompson made the following remarks which were subsequently red-flagged by Trump’s lawyers and sentTo the Supreme Court: “That dereliction of duty causes us real concern. And one of those concerns is that whether or not it was intentional, and whether or not that lack of attention for that longer period of time, would warrant a referral.”
“The Washington Post has confirmed what was already apparent — the Committee is indeed seeking any excuse to refer a political rival for criminal charges,” wrote Trump attorney Jesse Binnall, “and they are using this investigation to do so.” According to the Post, “Binnall said the committee is acting as ‘an inquisitorial tribunal seeking evidence of criminal activity,’ which he said is ‘outside of any of Congress’s legislative powers.’”
At the core of Trump’s argument is the claim that the committee is not vested with the power to prosecute crimes, and that the actions of the committee serve “no legitimate legislative purpose.” Absent that purpose, the committee has no standing to operate, and cannot prosecute crimes in any event.
Trump’s lawyers put this argument before the D.C. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was recently created. serve it back to themLike a Venus Williams backhand. “The mere prospect that misconduct might be exposed does not make the Committee’s request prosecutorial,” the court opined a month ago. “Missteps and misbehavior are common fodder for legislation.”
The committee is also able to recommend the proper legal steps in the case of any criminal misconduct. All other activities they engage in are strictly for informational purposes and are only intended to be an investigatory function. They have one weapon in their arsenal: a criminal conduct referral. If they use it, the responsibility to follow up will fall on Attorney General Merrick Garland or the Department of Justice.
This is the kind of Legal Beagle-ing that the Republican Party has agreed, to the tune $1.6 million and counting. Of course it’s a delaying tactic on the part of Trump’s lawyers; they are hoping to run out the clock and see this committee’s work get flushed if and when the GOP re-takes the House in November, so every second spent in court on frivolous nonsense actually serves a real, if genuinely shabby purpose.
In any event, I’m sure Mr. Cheney is pleased. His title, which he held for so much time, is being well represented.