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The Senate ups the ante.

May 11, 2017

This is the political equivalent of “See your dollar and raise you a hundred.”

Apparently tired of waiting for the FBI to finish its investigation of the so-called Russian connection, or maybe just to extract their own pound of flesh, the Senate Intelligence Commitee has subpoenaed Michael Flynn.

That’s a big deal, because by asking for documents rather than merely testimony, they are essentially blunting Flynn’s ability to plead the fifth. It also signals that the committee may already have information that such documents exist.

For those unfamiliar with the potential scope of a Congressional subpoena, it is not handled like a typical judicial subpoena.

For one thing, there are virtually no limits on the power of Congress to compel attendance or to limit testimony. And it’s all quite legal. There is no such thing as probable cause or any of the legal niceties most people think of when they hear the word subpoena.

If you want to take a really deep dive into understanding what General Flynn will be facing, you can visit this website, where you will find this sobering information:

The scope of Congress’s power “is as penetrating and far-reaching as the potential power to enact and appropriate under the Constitution.” Id. at 504 n.15 (quoting Barenblatt v. U.S., 360 U.S. 109, 111 (1959))” Also, “So long as Congress stays within this “necessarily broad” grant of constitutional authority, courts have little power to restrain its action.” And finally “As a practical matter, this means that courts generally will not interfere with a congressional subpoena absent a truly opprobrious violation of an individual’s constitutional rights.”  Source: White Paper,  prepared for the law firm of Mayer, Brown et al, Understanding Your Rights in Response to a Congressional Subpoena” p. 2,3. Authors, McIntosh, (David M.) ,Gitenstein, (Mark), and  McDonnell, (Sean P).

There is a myriad of other information, but suffice it to say, this isn’t a summons you want to or can ignore.

The danger for the committee is that it will expend an enormous amount of time and money and still never make the connection between Russia and President Trump that many of them so desperately want to effect. They may even find that General Flynn was guilty of nothing more than bad judgment.

That’s going to seriously piss off a lot of people who are already pretty hot under the collar.

And of course the flip side is also true.  If Flynn was actually trying to peddle influence with the President, even if only for personal gain, any direct tie to the Oval Office is going to be catastrophic for the administration.

There is also the purely political angle. This could be a talking point for months, and the longer President Trump’s detractors can drag it out, the closer we will be to the 2018 elections.

It may also put a serious damper on any legislative action on any of the President’s legislative objectives. What better reason to do nothing than to say that as long as he or members of his  administration are potentially under investigation, Congress cannot move forward on his agenda.

If you are thinking that this is starting to resemble the Spanish Inquisition, you wouldn’t be alone.

In a normal political environment, you might well feel that this is no more than a procedural matter related to an important national security question.

In this environment, with Democrats having already spent almost two years trying to discredit first candidate Trump and now President Trump and silence his supporters, there is no reason to think this is not just more of the same.

It isn’t just the President and the Republican Party whose necks are on the chopping block here.

The Democratic machine has a lot to lose. At stake for them is at best a roadblock and at worst a full stop to their dream of creating the Socialist States of America.

With that motivation, it will be instructive to see how impartially Committee Chairman Richard Burr can conduct the business at hand.

From → op-ed

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