After weeks of dismissing the impeachment inquiry as a hollow partisan attack, President Trump and his closest advisers now recognize that the snowballing probe poses a serious threat to the president — and that they have little power to block it, according to multiple aides and advisers.
The dawning realization comes as Democrats rapidly gather evidence from witness after witness testifying about the pressure put on Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rivals. The president is increasingly frustrated that his efforts to stop people from cooperating with the probe have so far collapsed under the weight of legally powerful congressional subpoenas, advisers said.
A federal judge drove the message home Friday when he ruled that the House impeachment actions are legal.
On Saturday, the House is scheduled to hear from an acting secretary of state for Europe who can detail the efforts of the White House to oust the previous American ambassador to the Ukraine.
Trump now realizes he is in serious legal jeopardy and brought Jane and Marty Raskin,, criminal defense attorneys who helped in the Mueller investigation.
Reports the Post:
Their return is a late acknowledgment, some White House advisers say, that the facts coming out are bad for the president and that both his White House and personal attorneys need to try to get in front of what else may emerge.
His problem is an inability to control civil servants who realize their duty is to serve the Constitution and the law.
“These are civil servants who realize their duty is public service and honoring the Constitution . . . and [some] are deeply disturbed by the horrendous abuses they have witnessed,” says Bruce Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability.
Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of Washington dismissed arguments by Republicans that the House must first vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry, calling the notion politically “appealing” but legally “fatally flawed.”
“No governing law requires this test — not the Constitution, not House Rules, and not [the grand jury secrecy rule], and so imposing this test would be an impermissible intrusion on the House’s constitutional authority,” Howell wrote in his opinion.
The White House’s stated policy of noncooperation with the impeachment inquiry weighs heavily in favor of disclosure. Congress’s need to access grand jury material relevant to potential impeachable conduct by a president is heightened when the executive branch willfully obstructs channels for accessing other relevant evidence.
The House Intelligence Committee says “the illegitimate order from the Trump Administration not to cooperate has no force.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper also rejected Trump’s threats.
“This letter informs you and Ms. Cooper of the Administration-wide direction that Executive Branch personnel ‘cannot participate in [the impeachment] inquiry under these circumstances,’ ” Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist wrote in a letter to Cooper. “In the event that the Committees issue a subpoena to compel Ms. Cooper’s appearance, you should be aware that the Supreme Court has held . . . that a person cannot be sanctioned for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena unauthorized by House Rule or Resolution.”
Cooper, saying her duty was to the law and the Constitution, testified anyway, despite a blatantly illegal attempt encouraged by Trump by House Republicans to occupy the closed meeting room.
White House advisers say Trump has launched into temper tantrums demanding to know why he can’t stop people from testifying.
“Anyone who suggests the law does not give him that authority gets a verbal lashing filled with vulgarity,” says one.”
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