Former US Attorney Andy McCarthy took a shot at Speaker Kevin McCarthy for ignoring a ruling from the Trump DOJ Office of Legal Counsel when the Democrats were launching an impeachment inquiry against Trump in 2019. Qevin keeps trying to use Nancy Pelosi as an excuse for the actions he’s taking now, saying she “changed the precedent” of the House, while ignoring the fact that the Justice Department ruled against Pelosi: The Trump-era opinion that might stymie the Biden impeachment inquiry:
A Trump-era opinion issued by the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel is being highlighted as a possible barrier for House Republicans in their impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday directed House committees to move ahead with the inquiry without a House vote. A lack of support among his caucus made it unclear whether he would’ve had the votes to launch the probe.
Now, the Biden administration could focus one part of their legal defense on a 2020 DOJ opinion that took the position that impeachment investigations by the House are invalid without a vote of the full chamber.
“The Constitution vests the ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ in the House of Representatives … For precisely that reason, the House itself must authorize an impeachment inquiry, as it has done in virtually every prior impeachment investigation in our Nation’s history, including every one involving a President,” Steve Engel, a top lawyer for the department, wrote in the opinion.
Engel added, “no committee may undertake the momentous move from legislative oversight to impeachment without a delegation by the full House of such authority.”
And sadly for Kevin McCarthy, even Fox is blasting him for basically hamstringing his own committees by ignoring that ruling.
ROBERTS: Three committees looking into it, with we are reminded of a January 2020 rule from the then Trump administration DOJ that impeachment inquiries by the house are invalid unless the entire House takes up a vote to authorize such an inquiry. What do we know about this?
MCCARTHY: Well, John, this goes back to the 2019 Ukraine impeachment effort which at the beginning of it Nancy Pelosi much like what Kevin McCarthy has done here basically just authorizes, used her own authority to authorize an impeachment inquiry without getting a full vote of the house and that was to the consternation and condemnation of Kevin McCarthy and other top Republicans who argued that it was not legitimate unless you passed a resolution which established an impeachment committee and what its jurisdiction would be.
That resulted in the Trump administration at the Justice Department promulgating what you just described, which was this guidance that because the inquiry had not been authorized by the full House, it was not legitimate. Now, there were a few other rounds that got played out there. First, eventually the House did vote for the impeachment inquiry, not at the beginning, but eventually. And secondly, when they impeached Trump in connection with Ukraine, one of the articles of impeachment was the failure to comply with subpoenas from the House, so they did not accept on Capitol Hill what they promulgated at the Justice Department. We’ll see how it plays out.
ROBERTS: So Steven Engel was the head of the counsel back then, I call it a rule, but you point out it’s more guidance or legal opinion, he wrote “we conclude that the house must expressly authorize a committee to conduct an impeachment investigation and to use compulsory process in that investigation before the committee may compel the production of documents or testimony.” So, how might this aid Biden as they go through this inquiry in the house?
MCCARTHY: This is why you just kinds of shake your head at this whole escapade, John. If Jamie Comer at the Oversight Committee like four days ago had issued a subpoena from the Oversight Committee, that would be an enforceable subpoena and the administration failed to comply with it, that could be an article of impeachment.
The instead, what they have now done is under circumstances where they didn’t have the votes but they want to call this impeachment, they have established an impeachment inquiry without doing a vote or establishing a committee and establishing its jurisdiction which means the Biden administration much like the Trump administration in 2019 is basically just going to say that a subpoena that would have been perfectly legitimate four days ago is now illegitimate because there is no vote for impeachment inquiry.
ROBERTS: How could it hamstring the impeachment inquiry?
MCCARTHY: I think it’s more politics, John, than legal. These committees retain their authority as standing committees of the House. So, they were able to issue subpoenas anyway as the Oversight Committee or the Judiciary Committee. What this does is it’s a kinds of an overlay on all of that that allows the Biden administration to say this whole thing is illegitimate and McCarthy knows it because he would not put it to a vote, and the point that you made and I think Chad made earlier is still a sound point, which is — if they don’t have the votes to open an inquiry, why should Biden think they should be able to vote articles of impeachment down the road?
Of course Roberts had to end the segment by carrying some water for McCarthy, saying even if Republicans had the vote (which they don’t) Democrats would still call it illegitimate because of the party-line vote. Sorry John, but they’re calling it illegitimate because it’s nothing more than a fishing expedition.
Olbermann blasted McCarthy for ignoring the ruling on his podcast earlier this week. You can imagine my surprise hearing someone on Fox actually admitting the the same thing.