By Jon Dougherty
Democratic arrogance and hubris never cease to amaze me. When they are in power, all of the rules and regulations and part of the Constitution that they care about matter; when they’re not in power, nothing matters and no laws or rules are enforceable.
To wit: House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) just threatened to have Attorney General William Barr and another other Trump Cabinet official who refuses to testify before his panel arrested, jailed, and fined.
On Tuesday, in response to low-information reporters who have no idea how to challenge blowhard politicians and no inkling to do so when they are Democrats asked Nadler what he planned to do if AG Barr blew off his demand that he testify before the committee this week and any resultant subpoenas issued to compel them to testify.
“Someone is in contempt of Congress, you send the Sergeant at Arms and you arrest them. Alternatively you fine him $20,000 a day, whatever. We could do this,” Nadler told WCBS.
Nadler called ignoring congressional subpoenas “a fundamental bid to take power away from Congress and give it to the president – to make the president much more of a monarch.”
“We cannot allow that,” Nadler continued. “Any president, any administration must be held accountable and Congress must be able to do its job.”
Except, of course, when it was the Obama administration and the offending Cabinet official was Obama’s first AG, Eric Holder.
On June 20, 2012, the GOP-controlled House Government Oversight Committee voted 23–17 along party lines to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for not refusing to documents the committee had subpoenaed regarding the “Fast and Furious” scandal. On June 28, 2012, Holder became the first U.S. Attorney General in history to be held in both criminal and civil contempt.
And nothing happened; the Justice Department inspector general later cleared Holder of any wrongdoing. And the Justice Department he ran refused to pursue the charges. Also, a federal court refused to honor the House’s contempt citation, which could have led to Holder being jailed.
None of that bothered Nadler then. But now, suddenly, because the president is Trump and his party is the Republican Party, he believes in the rule of law — or his version of it, anyway.
So, what’s the deal? Why is Nadler so exercised?
Because, as we reported, he wants to haul AG Barr before his committee and treat him like a fact witness in a trial, having him questioned by members of the panel but also the committee’s lawyers about the Mueller report — which the AG has already released in redacted form, to protect witnesses and other classified information.
Barr says, ‘Nope, I’m not doing that.’ And the president has said the same thing; he won’t subject Barr to that kind of unprecedented harassment.
As for the House Sergeant-at-Arms, no one in that position has performed anything like an arrest on a Cabinet official ever. Plus, there’s no Capitol Jail anymore, though Capitol Police have a holding cell.
And what’s more, how is the Sergeant-at-Arms going to arrest someone that POTUS Trump places under the protection of the FBI?
Not only does Nadler have an irrational hatred of the president, but his short memory, arrogance, and posturing could also actually cause a real constitutional crisis, at least in the short term, while further inflaming passions in our country and dividing us.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10