Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear three cases (two of them consolidated) regarding subpoenas issued against the accounting firm and banks used by President Trump before he was President Trump. In 2016, Trump refused to release detailed tax returns to the public. No law compels him or any candidate to do so.
In April 2019, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm. They said they needed the documents as part of an investigation into the adequacy of current ethics laws. The second set of subpoenas originate in the House Committee on Financial Services. It seeks documents from Deutsche Bank involving transactions of Donald Trump, family members and the Trump organization. The reason is an investigation into possible foreign influence in the 2016 campaign. In the third case, the District Attorney for Manhattan, Cyrus Vance, is seeking Trump’s tax returns in a criminal state investigation.
In all three politically-motivated cases, the strategy used by the Democrat activists in DC and Manhattan is clear: they did not subpoena Trump himself, but sued third-parties for privileged information they had pertaining to Trump. From the start, we realize that even morons like your average Democrat realizes there are serious constitutional issues with subpoenas targeted directly at the President. These subpoenas are related to testimony by former Trump attorney and certified sleaze bag, Michael Cohen. It was in 2018 that he stated that a loan issued to a Trump mistress for her silence was a “campaign contribution.”
That was in May 2018. In November 2018, the Democrats gained control of the House. Upon assuming power in January 2019, they made changes to the House rules. The Oversight Committee’s name dropped the word “government” from before “reform” and struck the words “review and study on a continuing basis the operation of Government activities at all levels with a view to determining their economy and efficiency.” This is important because it was the first step in re-orienting the Committee’s function away from “economy and efficiency” to one of eternal witch hunts.
Trump fought all three subpoenas and here we are at the Supreme Court. As anyone who followed the impeachment scam knows, the second article of impeachment directly flows from Trump’s attempt to squash these subpoenas. So, it is important that impeachment itself be examined since this is basically Trump’s argument.
Unlike the British Parliament, our Founders did not adopt the system in Britain at the time regarding the ability of Parliament to investigate criminal charges against any individual. Instead, that authority was vested in the Judicial and Executive branches of government. When the Constitution was adopted, the notion of “impeachment” referred to acts committed by an official while in office. Further, because Congress is decidedly different from British Parliament in form and function, we are further reminded that only after impeachment and removal from office is the person subject to the force of the law. Outside of impeachment, Congress has no power to investigate criminal conduct. Further, with the advent of Congressional committees, there is an implied doctrine within the Constitution that committees with general jurisdiction cannot decide for themselves where their own jurisdiction ends.
Further, having been subject to unfair prosecutions under British rule, protections were provided for the accused. Why would they do so in the area of common law trials, yet grant Congress broad power to wade into criminal prosecutions outside impeachment, especially knowing that politics would dictate the “prosecution?”
Instead, the Democrats seek these documents under the guise of “oversight.” But they do not have history or tradition on their side. “Oversight” traditionally refers to broad applicability, not investigations of specific matters of personal misconduct. The words they struck from the definition of the Oversight Committee date back to 1946. Further, John Adams, who knew a thing or two about the Constitution, said in 1831 that Congress was never intended to have a standing committee on impeachment which is what the rule change in 2019 effectively transformed the Oversight Committee into.
And it has been well-recognized that since 1973, through findings of the House Judiciary Committee, that an officer cannot be impeached for actions prior to assuming office. The only exception is if the action affects the Presidency, but in these subpoena cases the Committees did not utilize impeachment jurisdiction. So instead, they frame the witch hunt for financial information meant to embarrass a sitting President as mere inquiries for possible future legislation. This claim is silly on its face. The Constitution is not discarded just because a hostile Congress makes a legislative function claim.
Some people have commented on the political prowess of Nancy Pelosi. However, in these cases, she may have known politics, but she is legally and Constitutionally illiterate. The House, as a whole- although they will argue otherwise through the later adoption of partisan resolutions,- failed to delegate authority to issue the subpoenas.
The alleged “legislative purposes” line of reasoning behind the Congressional subpoenas cannot overcome the Constitutional barriers erected by our Founders. When they collide with the Constitution, it is the Constitution that must prevail. Our Founders knew full well that a time would come where politics- not criminal activity- would trigger proceedings of this nature against a sitting President or government official by a hostile Congress. They erected barriers to mitigate that eventuality, or avoid it altogether.
It is unfortunate that this Congress run by Nancy Pelosi would like to shred and destroy those barriers much like she shredded that State of the Union speech.