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Wed Apr 24, 2019, 04:57 PM

TPM - Don't Believe the Hype, Unless Someone Substantiates the Hype

Donít Believe the Hype, Unless Someone Substantiates the Hype
By Josh Marshall
April 24, 2019 1:48 pm

As President Trump has Ė unsurprisingly Ė dramatically ramped up his refusal to comply with any congressional scrutiny and oversight, the impeachment debate has moved in a new direction. Or at least one part of the existing argument has become much more salient. That is this: the claim that by moving into a formal impeachment process, perhaps as little as beginning a formal impeachment inquiry, the House will strengthen its ability to compel cooperation from the executive branch on all the documents and testimony it is now trying to get. In other words, whatever you think about the politics or wisdom of impeachment, Democrats need to start the process because thatís the only way theyíll have the standing to do effective investigation.

The problem is I see no evidence this is true....

Most of the claims Trump has made seem frivolous on their face. If courts are operating even broadly within existing precedent or the logic of the constitution Trump will lose. The issue is delays working through the courts. Possibly greater standing in an impeachment context wonít make the system operate faster. Itís also quite possible that judges Ė and even more Supreme Court Justices Ė wonít operate within precedent or the logic of the constitution. But thatís just another reason why operating on the basis of peopleís wishful thinking about how judges should act is a foolís errand.

I want to be clear on this point. I donít consider this a closed issue. Iím neither a constitutional scholar nor do I have the finest grained understanding of the trends within the federal judiciary. Iím still trying to talk to more experts to get a clearer view of this. If you have specific expertise in constitutional law or the appellate bar or other specific expertise, Iíd really like to hear from you on this. For the moment, my point is simply this: Many people are treating it as a given that beginning an impeachment inquiry will significantly or even dramatically increase the Houseís ability to compel the White Houseís cooperation. I see little or no evidence to believe that is true.


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