As you may have heard, the Democrats picked up a net 40 seats in the U.S. House last November, with two North Carolina seats vacant. Those victories gave the Ds a majority in the U.S. House.
As you also know, one of the joys of being in the majority is you get to pick the chairman of every Committee, Subcommittee, Select Committee, Special Committee and the senior House member of any Joint Committees (with the U.S. Senate).
Along with the chairmanships, comes the right to hire about 2/3 of the staff, schedule meetings and decide what topics those meetings will cover. In extreme cases it also confers (on most Committees) the right to issue subpoenas to compel compliance with a request for information, documents, or an appearance.
• I was once subpoenaed to appear before, as I remember, the Preparedness Subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee not long after I got back from Iraq.
• I would have showed up willingly, but I thought it would be cool to be subpoenaed.
• It wasn’t.
Earlier this week, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (R-NY), issued requests for documents from 81 – EIGHTY ONE – organizations, institutions, and individuals.
E.I.G.H.T.Y. O.N.E., Mrs. Bueller.
The Washington Post thoughtfully published the entire list and annotated it with why they are on it. That’s available on the Secret Decoder Ring page today.
The Dems claimed that because the U.S. House, when it was under the control of the Republicans, did no oversight of the Trump Administration, the Dems have to make up for two years of lost time.
As Col. Henry Potter might have said: Buffalo Bagels.
Eighty one requests for documents is way, WAY beyond a fishing expedition. It is right into those old pre-1991 gill nets that stretched for 40 miles and were 50 feet high. Today the limit is two miles, but just about any creature that swims into it – fish, mammals, reptiles, birds, whatever – are stuck.
The House Dems tried to soften the blow by suggesting that the materials they are asking for are the same as had previously been asked for, been subpoenaed for, or been seized by some other entity, so it shouldn’t be too much of a hardship.
Nevertheless, the letters require that the documents be produced by March 18, 2019 – two weeks from when the letters went out.
The letters are very specific. Let’s take a look at just one request from one page (of four) of former press secretary Sean Spicer:
“All documents relating to … Communications by President Trump or anyone acting on his behalf relating to Jeff Sessions’s recusal from any investigation related to the 2016 Presidential campaign. This includes, but is not limited to: (i) any attempts to block Sessions from recusing himself in or around March 2017; (ii) any attempts to cause Sessions to reverse his recusal decision; (iii) any criticism of Sessions’s March 2, 2017 recusal decision; and (iv) any attempts to limit, hide, or prevent a written ethics opinion related to Sessions’s recusal decision.”
Lemme see. Where did I put all the Jeff Sessions Recusal stuff? Oh, I remember now. NOWHERE! I was the Press Secretary.
Not only do all these people have to gather all these documents but consider this: Someone at the committee has to receive it, check it all in, cross-reference it, probably digitize it, analyze it, and make it available for the committee Members to look at.
I’m not sure there are enough people on the Library of Congress staff to go through all that, much less on the staff of the House Judiciary Committee.
It is not clear whether the Judiciary Committee is prepared to share these documents with other Committees with an interest in Trump-world: Oversight, Intel, Ways and Means, and on and on.
By making the time period for submission so short it will be impossible for the people on the list to compare notes. That means, Nadler and his fishing cronies want there to be discrepancies between, say, Jared Kushner’s submissions and, maybe, Michael Flynn’s submissions.
Perjury trap? Perjury gill net.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Washington Post’s annotated list showing why recipients are on it, the Judiciary Committee’s web page showing the exact request of each recipient, and a short article on gill nets.