New York Times reporter Nicholas Fandos expressed some hope for Congressional Democrats’ fishing expedition against Donald Trump based on the Mueller report findings in Wednesday’s encouraging “Talks Over Access to Report Might Be Back On.” Fandos expressed his usual hostility to the Republican side and deference toward the Democrats (click “expand”):
House Democrats said on Tuesday that they were willing to renew negotiations with the Justice Department over access to the special counsel’s full report and investigative files, but rejected a call to pre-emptively cancel a House vote to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt.
Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the Judiciary Committee chairman who issued a subpoena for the materials at the center of a simmering dispute, said he was ready to talk immediately to try to reach a compromise, but only “without conditions” preset by the Justice Department. The House has scheduled the contempt vote for next Tuesday after weeks of refusals by Mr. Barr and his department to comply with the subpoena.
If the vote proceeds, it would be only the second time in American history that Congress has held the nation’s top law enforcement official in contempt -- a sign of the deep animus the special counsel’s investigation has engendered between the legislative and executive branches. In addition to holding Mr. Barr in contempt, Democrats were expected to vote to grant House committees the power to go straight to court in similar future disputes.
For some reason Fandos skipped the details of the first “contempt,” which happened just seven years ago, during the previous Obama administration! Then-Attorney General Eric Holder earned it for his refusal to produce documents related to the administration’s “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking scandal (click “expand”):
Negotiations between the two sides have been rived with mistrust for months, with both sides pointing fingers over the escalating tensions. Democrats are wary that the Justice Department’s latest offer could be merely a stalling tactic to try to at least delay the contempt vote rather than a good-faith step toward accommodation. And the department has maintained that Democrats are being unreasonable in the scope and speed of their demands.
Under subpoenas issued by the Judiciary Committee, the two witnesses had been instructed to deliver on Tuesday a range of documents related to their work in the White House, including notes and records related to some of Mr. Trump’s attempts to thwart federal investigators -- attempts documented by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in the report he completed in March.
Mr. Nadler said that Ms. Hicks, who also served as a top aide on Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, did produce some documents related to her work before the election. He called it a “show of good faith,” though a copy of a letter from Ms. Hicks’s lawyer obtained by The New York Times says she handed over only four documents containing email chains.
In addition to documents, the subpoenas call for Ms. Hicks and Ms. Donaldson to testify publicly this month -- and there was no indication on Tuesday whether they would comply. Mr. Nadler made clear his position that both were still expected to show up before the panel. Ms. Hicks has been subpoenaed to appear on June 19 and Ms. Donaldson on June 24.
Fandos saw momentum toward impeachment:
But there appears to be little chance either former aide will testify, bolstering the case made by a growing number of House Democrats that the president is actively obstructing another branch of government from doing its constitutionally sanctioned oversight function, and that impeachment proceedings are the only proportional response.
Fandos neutrally relayed the increasingly odd ways, like calling John Dean to testify, that the Democrats are using to try and pump public attention into the Mueller findings, and somehow bring his “448-page report to life.” Interpretative dance, perhaps?