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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Will Trump’s Use Of Executive Privilege Help Him Avoid Congressional Oversight? It Didn’t Help Nixon

Like Donald Trump, Richard Nixon tried to stonewall congressional investigations into crimes allegedly committed in the White House.

“Why, we’ll just let it go to the (Supreme) Court. Fight it like hell,” Nixon said.

But the stone wall crumbled under pressure from the public, Congress and the courts, and its rubble formed the foundation for an article of impeachment.

As the Senate Watergate investigation began in 1973, Nixon took a position like Trump did on May 2, when he barred former White House counsel Don McGahn from testifying before Congress about potential obstruction of justice by the president.

To block current and former White House aides from testifying before Congress, Nixon claimed that “executive privilege” shielded presidential conversations from congressional oversight.

And just as Trump claimed on Wednesday that executive privilege allows him to withhold the complete, unredacted Mueller report from Congress, Nixon claimed it allowed him to withhold executive branch documents.

Why Nixon resisted

Nixon’s claims of executive privilege were a matter of political survival.

One of the crimes for which Congress was investigating Nixon was obstruction of justice, and he was guilty.

There is no credible evidence that Nixon knew about the underlying crime, the Watergate...

Infrastructure Week Isn’t a Joke Anymore

Two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, Infrastructure Week has come to promise five business days of drama and discussion about almost anything other than infrastructure.

With campaign season ramping up, though, that may be about to change.

The origins of this story begin on a Friday in June 2017, when Gary Cohn, then the chairman of the National Economic Council, teased that the following Monday would kick off Infrastructure Week at the White House. There was reason to believe that the occasion, centered on an overhaul of the nation’s air-traffic-control system, could plant the seeds for bipartisan legislation to upgrade the nation’s bridges, highways, and railroads. On the 2016 campaign trail, Trump had pledged to pursue a $1 trillion infrastructure package in office, an idea that, truth be told, had more Democrats excited than Republicans.

But the White House’s plan swiftly crumbled, in large measure because the president wasn’t on the same page. Instead of using Infrastructure Week to advance a campaign promise, Trump shifted all attention to his store of personal grievances, bashing his own Justice Department for submitting a “politically correct” version of his travel ban to the Supreme Court, and calling London...

Trump's Defiance of Congress Leaves Democrats With a New Dilemma

Even the announcement was delayed as long as possible.

It has seemed likely since before Democrats won the House of Representatives in November, promising to demand President Donald Trump’s tax returns, that the White House would refuse to hand the documents over without a fight. But after weeks of dickering and assurances that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was considering the legality of the request, the White House finally said, with just hours to go, that it would not produce the documents by the Tuesday deadline set by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal.


Also on Tuesday, a former White House official in charge of security clearances did not appear to testify to the House Oversight Committee, after the administration instructed him not to comply with a subpoena. Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said he’d move to hold the former official, Carl Kline, in contempt of Congress. The Washington Post also reported Trump would fight a subpoena calling former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify. And on Monday, the White House filed a lawsuit against Cummings and his own accounting firm to try to block the firm, Mazars USA, from handing over information about Trump’s finances...

Viewpoint: The Mueller Report Was My Tipping Point

Let’s start at the end of this story. This weekend, I read Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report twice, and realized that enough was enough—I needed to do something. I’ve worked on every Republican presidential transition team for the past 10 years and recently served as counsel to the Republican-led House Financial Services Committee. My permanent job is as a law professor at the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School, which is not political, but where my colleagues have held many prime spots in Republican administrations.

If you think calling for the impeachment of a sitting Republican president would constitute career suicide for someone like me, you may end up being right. But I did exactly that this weekend, tweeting that it’s time to begin impeachment proceedings.

Let’s go back to the beginning. In August 2016, I interviewed to join the pre-transition team of Donald Trump. Since 2012, every presidential election stands up a pre-transition team for both candidates, so that the real transition will have had a six-month head start when the election is decided. I participated in a similar effort for Mitt Romney, and despite our defeat, it was a thrilling and...

Analysis: Be Grateful for the Mueller Report

Passover and Easter are religious holidays of gratitude—gratitude for the release of the Jewish people from Egypt, gratitude by Christians for the sacrifice of Jesus in redemption for humanity’s sins. The Trump administration may have cynically calculated that releasing the Mueller report on the eve of a double holiday might dampen interest, but the timing seems oddly fitting, because the special counsel’s findings provide so much to be grateful for.

Undoubtedly, the special counsel’s report on the 2016 election makes for grim reading. A foreign government conducted a years-long campaign to undermine American democracy. It used the openness of our society and the technologies of our creation against us. Russia crafted “a social media campaign designed to provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States,” paired with criminal acts designed to assist the election of Trump. And they succeeded.

The Russian influence operation should be taught in graduate schools of political science and journalism—and in intelligence training programs. Operatives began in mid-2014 to identify social fissures and build a wide following. They passed as American citizens and organizations while assisting candidates Trump and Bernie Sanders. They shifted as the presidential race narrowed...