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Senate Republicans Are Awol In The Oversight War. / Mitch McConnell

U.S. POLITICS

Senate Republicans Are AWOL In The Oversight War.

It’s time for the subpoenas to start flying.

In a recent speech to the Federalist Society, Attorney General Bill Barr lamented what he sees as a broad assault on the executive branch. As Barr sees it, the legislative and judicial branches have been progressively encroaching on the prerogatives of the executive. And he’s right; federal district court judges, apparently tired of merely judging, want a hand in executive branch policymaking; thus, we see an endless stream of nationwide injunctions that thwart President Trump’s initiatives.

The oversight wars have begun. And the Republican Senate must begin to fight.

But Congress is certainly the greater offender; it is doing little but encroach on the executive branch’s power. This Congress won’t legislate; even on the issue of infrastructure, where there would appear to be bipartisan agreement, Nancy Pelosi has been AWOL. As a result, the Senate GOP’s actions have been limited to holding hearings and confirming judges and other Presidential appointees.

Instead of legislating, Pelosi’s House Democrats are doing something far more sinister: they are using their oversight powers to harass the White House and prevent it from functioning at all.

Endless subpoenas have been issued and investigations launched under the “pretext” of oversight. Take, for example, the request to subpoena Donald Trump’s tax returns under the pretense of evaluating how to reform tax law. Does anyone really think that House Democrats are about to unveil a tax reform bill? Of course not—they wanted to harass President Trump while he should be busy taking care that our laws be faithfully executed.

Attorney General Barr was right to lament this. The President is confronted, daily, with the country’s most pressing problems. Democrats’ three-year long campaign to impeach him with conspiracy theories and non-crimes has done incredible damage to our government and to our standing in the world.

But it’s not enough to point out the problem and be done with it. Democrats will not stop harassing the administration. As A.G. Barr points out, they have proudly adopted the moniker of “the resistance,” which indicates that they truly believe they are in a kind of civil war. Thus, Republicans have to find ways to make Democrats feel the pain of their actions, using the powers available to them.

The era of legislative battles is seemingly over; the Oversight War has begun. And the Republican Senate must begin to fight.

Attorney General William Barr / Bill Barr

Attorney General William Barr

A FEW PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATIONS

Why was Hunter Biden getting paid $50,000 a year by Burisma to sit on its board of directors? Why did the Obama administration sit idly by while Joe Biden’s son was selling his name? And, more importantly, why haven’t Senate Republicans subpoenaed anyone involved in this mess?

If Congressional Democrats are going to use every lawful means at their disposal to “resist” President Trump, then Senate Republicans should use every lawful means at their disposal to punish their bad faith rebellion.

If President Trump’s tax returns are a legitimate subject of an “oversight” investigation related to our tax laws, then surely Hunter Biden’s no-show job is a legitimate subject of an “oversight” investigation related to our anti-corruption laws. If Senator Lindsay Graham will not use his Judiciary Committee chairmanship to conduct this potentially fruitful investigation, then another committee must.

Moreover, I don’t recall Senate Republicans holding any serious hearings to get to the bottom of Hillary Clinton using a private email server for her government correspondence. The Senate, being responsible for the State Department and for potentially amending the Freedom of Information Act, surely has the ability to subpoena Hillary Clinton—and everyone else involved in this travesty—to get to the bottom of how State Department policies were violated and why, exactly, then-Secretary Clinton thought she had the unilateral right to delete thousands of emails from her server.

Hearings could also be held in the Senate Judiciary Committee to determine whether or not the Department of Justice is taking steps to ensure that it is properly meeting its Brady requirements in prosecutions of prominent figures. Recent filings by the lawyers representing retired General Michael Flynn strongly suggest that partisan bureaucrats were intentionally withholding Brady material in defiance of court orders in that case. This wouldn’t be the first prominent case against a Republican officeholder where the prosecutors were knowingly withholding Brady material; the conviction of Ted Stevens was thrown out due to similar misconduct.

Those are just three simple ideas for how Senate Republicans could end their pacifistic treatment of Democrats and wield oversight power against them. Now, we should wish to return to a peacetime world where Democrats and Republicans agree to constrain the use of their oversight powers and avoid using them for partisan political purposes or to harass the executive branch.

But we are not at peace.  Senate Republicans must not unilaterally disarm in the Oversight War.

If Congressional Democrats are going to use every lawful means at their disposal to “resist” President Trump, then Senate Republicans should use every lawful means at their disposal to punish their bad faith rebellion.

Written By

Will Chamberlain is a lawyer and the publisher of Human Events.

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