Congress is entitled to all of the evidence

It’s subpoena time!

The House Judiciary Committee authorized its chairman on Wednesday to use a subpoena to try to force the Justice Department to give Congress a full copy of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report and all of the underlying evidence used to reach his conclusions.

The chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, said he would not immediately issue the subpoena. But the party-line vote won by Democrats who control the committee ratchets up pressure on Attorney General William P. Barr as he decides how much of the nearly 400-page report to share with lawmakers.

The committee also approved subpoenas for five former White House aides who Democrats said were relevant to an investigation into possible obstruction of justice, abuse of power and corruption within the Trump administration.

They included Donald F. McGahn II, a former White House counsel; Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist; Hope Hicks, a former White House communications director; Reince Priebus, the president’s first chief of staff; and Annie Donaldson, a deputy of Mr. McGahn.

The executive is not actually supposed to withhold stuff from Congress, but as usual enforcement is not a simple matter. It would be nice if the Trump crooks would just do what they’re supposed to do, but they won’t, because of the “crooks” thing.

“The department is wrong to try to withhold that information from this committee,” Mr. Nadler said. “Congress is entitled to all of the evidence. This isn’t just my opinion. It is also a matter of law.”

But practically speaking, the subpoena does not ensure Congress will get what it wants. Mr. Barr could stall or outright defy their request, leaving the House with two options to enforce the subpoena: contempt of Congress proceedings or a court case. Both would take considerable time.

Barr could just say “No! I won’t!!” and he probably will, because that’s why Trump chose him, because he sent that unsolicited memo explaining why Trump should be able to do whatever he wants the end. We’re at the mercy of authoritarian criminals.

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