Trump suffered a devastating legal loss yesterday. A Federal Judge ruled that former White House Counsel Don McGahn, whose name came up more often in the Mueller report than any other member of Trump’s cabinet, must honor a House subpoena and testify before Congress. McGahn will likely appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court but it’s not clear that they will consider his case. The ruling by US District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson went out of its way to destroy the Trump team’s rationale for preventing McGahn’s testimony:
Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings. This means that they do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control. Rather, in this land of liberty, it is indisputable that current and former employees of the White House work for the People of the United States, and that they take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
She went on to write:
Today, this Court adds that this conclusion is inescapable precisely because compulsory appearance by dint of a subpoena is a legal construct, not a political one, and per the Constitution, no one is above the law. That is to say, however busy or essential a presidential aide might be, and whatever their proximity to sensitive domestic and national-security projects, the President does not have the power to excuse him or her from taking an action that the law requires. Fifty years of say so within the Executive branch does not change that fundamental truth. Nor is the power of the Executive unfairly or improperly diminished when the Judiciary mandates adherence to the law and thus refuses to recognize a veto-like discretionary power of the President to cancel his subordinates’ legal obligations. To the contrary, when a duly authorized committee of Congress issues a valid subpoena to a current or former Executive branch official, and thereafter, a federal court determines that the subpoenaed official does, as a matter of law, have a duty to respond notwithstanding any contrary order of the President, the venerated constitutional principles that animate the structure of our government and undergird our most vital democratic institutions are preserved.
One of the House committees considering articles of impeachment against Trump is looking at the Mueller report’s detailing of Trump’s obstruction of justice, so it’s stands to reason that they may want McGahn to testify in their investigation.
The Supreme Court yesterday granted a temporary stay to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars, allowing them to withhold Trump’s taxes from Congress while the SCOTUS considers whether to accept the lower court’s ruling or issue its own. It’s a good bet that the SCOTUS will take a look at the case, but on an accelerated schedule. If so, it seems likely that the House has a very good case.
The fallout continued yesterday over Trump’s firing of Navy Secretary Spencer, and it was reported that Trump wants pardoned SEAL Gallagher to appear at his campaign rallies. So it’s important we keep in mind what Gallagher was accused of doing. He was put on trial for the unnecessary killing of an injured young Muslim detainee, and then posing for selfies with the dead body. He was also accused of other transgressions while on the front lines. He was a sniper and was allegedly so fond of shooting civilians indiscriminately that his own squad sabotaged his sniper rifle. It was also alleged that, for no good reason, he shot a girl in a flower print dress. It was also alleged that, for no good reason, he shot another civilian, an old man. But a jury of Marines acquitted him of the killings and found him guilty of taking a picture with a corpse, which the Navy frowns upon. It’s likely that the prosecution didn’t have enough hard evidence to prove its case, but Gallagher’s fellow SEALs were the ones who turned him in and testified, which says a lot about the severity of their concern in the context of a warrior culture that treats whistle blowers like shit.
So Trump wants Gallagher at his rallies, which simply bolsters an observed fact: Whatever choice or decision he faces, Trump always takes the most vile, cruel, sadistic, reprehensible, vengeful, mean-spirited, destructive, dishonest, unscrupulous, immoral and/or self-serving course he can envision in that moment.
Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”