Nadler’s Contempt

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday held a press conference responding to the effort by Representative  Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for his testimony last week. McCarthy was relaxed and jovial as he approached the entrails of the self-destructing anti-Trump movement with a voracious appetite.

For too long the media and their client Democrats in Congress have operated in an environment in which the rule of law meant only one law: “Get Trump.” That “law” made everything done in service to that goal “legal” and everything in opposition to the goal “illegal.” Cries of a “constitutional crisis” are simply rehashing the received wisdom that there is a new, unwritten amendment to the Constitution called the “Get Trump” provision.

Thus, an exercise of delegated power by an elected president over the unelected subordinate branches could be called (without intended irony) an attack on democracy. The Obama era ushered in a convergence of power among the powerful federal agencies, the media, and the Democrats. In the early part of the Trump Administration, it even appeared strong enough to overcome the inconvenient election of a candidate who ran in opposition to the cabal.

But, as they say, something that cannot go on forever must eventually stop. With Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in charge of the Department of Justice and all “Get Trump” operations, there appeared to be no exception to the new law. Rosenstein dutifully used the Department of Justice against Trump’s allies while seeming to grant immunity to Trump’s enemies.

It’s easy to be an attorney or a lawmaker when the law is whatever you need it to be to help get your target. But Rosenstein is leaving and the Attorney General has committed the unforgivable sin of suggesting that the law is something that doesn’t change depending on whether it helps or hurts Trump.

Thus, it is with considerable embarrassment that Nadler now flops about like a fish finding that the waters of the friendly “Get Trump” legal environment are receding. If you read the House Judiciary Committee’s vague explanation of the contempt citation, you find that balloon inflated with hot air so it can float above the dangerously sharp underlying facts of the case. Lest the true motive of revenge become even more apparent than it already is, obfuscation is required.

Still, it boils down to this: Barr isn’t following the “Get-Trump” playbook and for that he must be punished. According to a House Judiciary Committee release:

Today we consider a report recommending that the House of Representatives hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for defying a valid subpoena issued by this Committee. This is not a step we take lightly. It is the culmination of nearly three months of requests, discussions, and negotiations with the Department of Justice for the complete, unredacted report by Special Counsel Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election, along with the underlying evidence.

Nadler bloviated further, raising the common talking point that “this decision represents a clear escalation in the Trump Administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated duties.” There must be a conference call or a chat room because the “constitutional crisis” talking point was echoed by the New York Times, NBC, The Hill, USA Today, the Washington Post editorial board, the Week, and on and on. It’s simply embarrassing that, in a free country, the so-called independent media outlets (which is really just a corporate leftist media conglomerate) allow themselves to be directed, scripted, and coordinated to a single message with a precision and fidelity that the Communist Chinese would envy.

On May 1, the Department of Justice issued a letter that irrefutably demolishes the “contempt” case against Barr. The author, Stephen Boyd, himself a bit of a deep-state acolyte who helped oppose the publication of the incredibly important House memo exposing FISA abuse, has apparently changed sides. Boyd pointed out that the attorney general, “offered [Nadler] and other congressional leaders the chance to review the report with redactions only for grand-jury information (because disclosure of that information is prohibited by law). That would permit you to review 98.5% of the report, including 99.9% of Volume II, which discusses the investigation of the President’s actions.”

Boyd wrote a follow-up letter on Monday, in which he succumbed to a little exasperated mocking of Nadler’s pursuit of a contempt citation. Nadler would not even read the less-redacted materials the Department of Justice provided, causing Boyd to write: “The Committee [issued its subpoena that predicated the contempt motion] even though you have yet to take advantage of the Department’s offer to review the less-redacted version of the Special Counsel’s report—which naturally raises questions about the sincerity of the Committee’s interest in and purported need for the redacted material.”

Nadler did little or nothing to contest the Department of Justice’s key opposition to the subpoena—that it can’t legally turn over grand jury information without a court order. But Nadler did write this:

With respect to grand jury information, in past cases involving allegations of presidential misconduct, or misconduct by other high-ranking public officials, the DOJ, as a matter of course, has sought the permission of a court to release relevant information to Congress, if not to the public. Notably, this includes several cases that were not impeachment inquiries—including the investigation into former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy and the Iran-Contra investigations—as well as other investigations that were not governed by the independent counsel law.

Perhaps. But there is no current court order allowing release of that material and Nadler has done nothing to establish a legitimate need for the information.

To Boyd’s point, if Nadler won’t read what Barr can give him, then how does he know there’s anything of interest in what remains? Thus, Nadler has given the Justice Department nothing to put in a petition to a court asking for permission to release the material.

The Russia investigation has turned into a Democratic opioid crisis as the media and congressional Democrats continue to try to chase the dragon-hoping that the next high will be as good as the last. Gone is the unifying crisis of removing a Russian agent from the White House. Now Americans are slowly waking up to the reality that under Trump the economy has posted eye-popping GDP and unemployment numbers and this, after all, is the real crisis of the Left.

Democrats depend on dependency to propel them to power. The success of the American individual makes sweeping social justice policy seem less relevant and even dangerous. Kevin McCarthy made this exact point during his press conference in which he openly and gleefully displayed his own contempt for Nadler’s contemptuous contempt resolution against the attorney general. The days of everyone agreeing that the Constitution has an implied “Get Trump” clause are over. With an attorney general like Barr, we may yet see the blindfold restored to lady justice.

Photo Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

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About Adam Mill

Adam Mill is a pen name. He is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and works in Kansas City, Missouri as an attorney specializing in labor and employment and public administration law. He graduated from the University of Kansas and has been admitted to practice in Kansas and Missouri. Mill has contributed to The Federalist, American Greatness, and The Daily Caller.