Trump Announces Plan to Unconditionally Stonewall Congress

Ting Shen/Xinhua via ZUMA

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The White House has made it official: they are going to stonewall every congressional subpoena for anything and everything. In a way, I suppose that’s not surprising. What is surprising—a little bit, I guess—is that they’ve announced their intentions via a letter from the White House counsel that reads like a Rush Limbaugh monologue, not a legal document.

You can read the whole thing here, but allow me to summarize the three numbered sections:

  1. The House impeachment inquiry is not a real impeachment inquiry because no vote has been taken. But just in case you think you can get around this by taking a vote, forget it. The inquiry is also invalid because Democrats “have not established any procedures affording the President even the most basic protections demanded by due process under the Constitution and by fundamental fairness.”
  2. The impeachment inquiry is nothing more than a “naked political strategy” to overturn the 2016 election. It’s totally invalid.
  3. There’s no legitimate basis for the inquiry because President Trump’s call to the president of Ukraine was “completely appropriate” and everyone knows it.

This is batshit insane. Due process is for the impeachment trial, not the initial inquiry. The political motivation for impeachment is irrelevant. And the whole point of the inquiry is to establish whether Trump did anything wrong. The fact that Trump himself says he did nothing wrong is hardly conclusive evidence.

But this letter was plainly not written with legal arguments in mind. No lawyer would do anything but laugh at it. Rather, it’s aimed at Trump’s base and, especially, Fox News. It provides them with approved talking points going forward, and I expect to hear versions of these talking points 24/7 throughout conservative media for weeks to come.

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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