Ex-GOP congressmen blast Trump White House for defying subpoenas — and promoting ‘the steady erosion' of ‘congressional authority’
When the U.S. House of Representatives indicted President Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment on December 18, not a single Republican voted in favor of either of them. Republicans in Congress have made it abundantly clear that they are all in for Trump, but two Republicans who served in Congress in the past — Peter Smith and Mickey Edwards — were, during a CNN appearance this week, highly critical of the Trump White House’s response to subpoenas sent by House Democrats. That includes subpoenas sent in connection with the recent impeachment inquiry as well as other House investigations.
Trump has told past and current members of his administration to defy subpoenas sent by the House — which, according to Smith, ignores the congressional powers outlined in the U.S. Constitution. Smith and Edwards have signed a legal brief urging a federal court to reject the Trump White House’s assertion that it’s OK to defy or ignore congressional subpoenas.
Smith told CNN’s Poppy Harlow, “It’s the steady erosion…. of congressional authority as one of the three parts of government. To me, Article II (of the U.S. Constitution) is absolutely clear: it is arrogated to the Congress, not to the courts, to be able to compel testimony and to compel documents. Period.”
Edwards recalled that in the impeachments of President Bill Clinton and President Richard Nixon, “the executive has always understood that a congressional subpoena carried weight — that you were supposed to respond to it, that the job of Congress was to have oversight over the executive branch. The problem is that members of Congress today don’t remember that, and they don’t assert their authority.”
So far, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has held onto the two articles of impeachment rather than passing them along to the Senate for a trial; she is worried that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has no intention of weighing the evidence fairly. And Edwards is fine with Pelosi withholding the articles — at least for now.
Edwards told Harlow, “What’s happening here is it is considered a trial where the defendant — the defendant in this case being Donald Trump —is working with the majority leader of the Senate, the jury, the people who are supposed to be trying the case and telling them what to do. Mitch McConnell has been very clear about that. He’s taking his orders from the White House. He’s taking his orders from the person they’re supposed to be judging.”
Watch the video below: