The Report

In just about an hour Attorney General Barr will make a redacted version of the Mueller report public. At this point I don’t believe that anybody believes that will satisfy the president, his opponents, or his supporters. Neither his supporters nor his opponents are deducing their conclusions from facts; they’re just restating their premises.

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about a misconception about how our system is supposed to function. Under our system the Congress does not have the authority to demand executive branch work product. The Congress’s powers with respect to the executive branch are limited to just two: the power of the purse and the power of impeachment. The powers of the court over the other two branches of government are even more limited. Basically, it has none. Whatever power the court exerts is just honored by convention. The Supreme Court has no authority to order the Congress or the President to do or not to do anything, as pithily observed by Andrew Jackson almost two hundred years ago.

What raises all of these questions and, indeed, what put President Trump into office to begin with is the dereliction of their duties by all branches of government. I guess that’s the material for another post.

3 comments… add one
  • CuriousOnlooker Link

    Well the power to pass laws (and veto proof with a 2/3 majority) is immense.

    As to the report itself; with the last couple of weeks I think the House will take up Mueller’s invitation to open impeachment proceedings against the President.

    It is an interesting dynamic in the House majority. Reminds me of the 2010-2012 Republicans.

  • Well the power to pass laws (and veto proof with a 2/3 majority) is immense.

    Precisely my point. But the Congress doesn’t have the power to subpoena executive branch work product or, more precisely, they can subpoena it and the executive branch can ignore the subpoena, claiming executive privilege which is effectively the same thing.

    Similarly, the Supreme Court could order that the president comply with the subpoena, the president could ignore the court’s order, and, failing impeachment by the Congress, that would be that. The court doesn’t have the power to enforce its decisions on its own.

    Something I find amusing is that the Democrats had control of the House from 1931 to 1997, the longest such stretch in American history. Since then control has changed hands pretty regularly. That means Democrats were architects of the budget process and more generally the post-war federal government. That seems to have been forgotten.

  • Guarneri Link

    The expected food fight ensued after the release. Yawn.

    I only really watched the Barr presser. What a shameful display. The media convicted him right on the spot. They hadn’t seen the report. They didn’t acknowledge that Rosenstein and the Mueller office participated. They only attacked Barr. It could only be described as despicable.

    Does anyone on this blog take these people even minimally seriously anymore? Anyone care to assess the damage done to the press institution or government oversight in general? This is a shame.

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