By Alec Pruchnicki
The wheels of justice are slow to move, but when they do they grind exceedingly small.
The people of the country have done our part, for now, and produced a Democratic House of Representatives. Many of the congressional investigations of the Trump administration that have been undermined, if not completely buried, now can be done honestly and openly using usual congressional protocols.
When first thinking about this article on November 11th, I couldn’t identify anything that countless political writers, commentators and pundits wouldn’t also be discussing by the time WestView comes to press. But, with the firing of Jeff Sessions and the appointment of Matthew Whitaker, it became clearer that the Mueller investigation might soon face a greater risk of being undermined, or even shut down, than it did a week ago.
Under Democratic control, the House has various weapons to combat this. They can subpoena Mueller, or any of this staff, to testify in front of the appropriate committee. In the long run, there is even a greater potential use of the special prosecutor and his staff. They could be hired by the committees.
At some point, the Mueller investigation will end, either by underfinancing, shutting down, or simply by completing its report and presenting it to the House. The investigators will then no longer be under the control of the Justice Department, no matter who is running it, nor of indirect White House control. Mueller has a large excellent experienced staff, by all accounts, and it would make sense for them to be hired by the appropriate committee. There might be rules concerning what they can do, or whether they can use information they are aware of from the investigation, but there does appear precedent for this.
When the Republicans conducted hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, they hired an outside prosecutor to conduct some of the questioning of the witnesses. It would be poetic justice that the precedent they set could now be used against them. Also, many years ago the Senate hired an outside counsel named Sam Dash, with a supporting staff, to question witnesses in the historic Watergate hearings. Although the House might have different rules from the Senate, since the Democrats will soon be in charge they can make or change the rules. The numerous House committees investigating conspiracy with the Russians, national security, tax evasion, and even impeachable offenses could hire many of Mueller’s staff members. Not only will these interrogators be relatively immune from White House interference, but their questioning can be done in open sessions under penalty of perjury when appropriate. And the committee chairmen will soon include our own representative Jerry Nadler as head of the Judiciary committee.
Should President Trump be frightened? There is a story about how General Robert E. Lee had a scared soldier brought to him because of some disciplinary infringement. When he saw the frightened soldier he said, “Don’t be scared, you’ll get justice here,” to which the soldier replied “that’s what I’m scared of.” Should Trump be nervous that he will get justice from the House? Yes.