Tuesday, January 10, 2023

What the House Judicial Obstruction Committee is really all about


From Keith Olbermann's Countdown podcast 1/9/23. 



No, not the one in Brazil, the one here still in full flower two years and three days after the Trump slobs were beaten back and this time the combatants will include, not the Proud Boys, but the Holman rule and the Linder letter.  

It starts today when the Taliban 20 forces its combination Speaker of the House and hostage, Kevin McCarthy, to pass a House rules package dressed up in patriotic persiflage but actually designed merely to keep the insurrectionists from being prosecuted.  The 2023 battle will be less mob rule and more Robert's rules of order but it will again take place at the Capitol. The House rules for the 118th Congress will establish something to be airily called The Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Justice Department or something stupid like that when in fact it should be called The House Obstruction of Justice Subcommittee. This subcommittee will give itself the right to review "ongoing criminal investigations," which is a nice way of saying insurrectionists serving in the House like Gym Jordan and Matt Gaetz, and Perry, and Greene, and Gosar, to say nothing of Trump, or anybody else being investigated for their complicity in the January 6th coup attempt they will be able to use a congressional subcommittee to stop those investigations OF THEMSELVES.

Or, at least they think so.

Gaetz and Jordan, who are behind this, are trying to dress it up as some kind of protection for political free speech, and rights this and first amendment that when in fact it is an attempt by Jordan and Gaetz to keep Jordan and Gaetz OUT OF JAIL.  

The problem with clever but lazy fanatics like Jordan and Gaetz is that they only read the headlines. They will hit the Department of Justice with demands for testimony, for evidence, of hearings, for witnesses and the Department of Justice will be able to tell Gaetz and Jordan TO SHOVE IT UP THEIR BASE. 

A deputy assistant attorney general will write to Chairman Jordan or Chairman Gaetz a note, dry as toast, invoking the Linder letter and Attorney General Robert Jackson and presuming they get a grown up to read it aloud to them Gaetz and Jordan will be in for a big surprise. On January 27th, 2000, which is so long ago but the day I turned 41, Assistant Attorney General Robert Raven wrote to the House Chair on the Subcommittee on Rules, Congressman John Linder about this exact precise subject. No, not only can't Congress have, or see, or ask, or demand anything about ongoing criminal investigations but that that has been the policy of the United States government whether run by Democrats or Republicans since about 1900. Raven quoted Robert H Jackson, FDR's attorney general in 1941 citing something like forty years worth of precedence at that point in 1941. Jackson wrote that all investigative reports are confidential documents of the executive department of the government to aid in the duty laid upon the President by the Constitution to take care that the laws be faithfully executed and that congressional or public access to them would not be in the public interest. Raven also pointed out in 2000 what should be obvious to anybody not quite as stupid and slovenly as Gym Jordan and Matt Gaetz, he quoted one assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, Charles J Cooper who had written, "providing a congressional committee with confidential information about active criminal investigations would place the congress in a position to exert pressure or attempt to influence the prosecution of criminal cases." The author of that quote, Charles J Cooper was the assistant attorney general under Ronald Reagan.

If a congressional committee is fully apprised of all details of an investigation as the investigation proceeds, wrote a deputy counsel to the president, Edward L Morgan, there is a substantial danger that congressional pressures will influence the course of the investigation. And that Mr. Morgan was deputy counsel to Richard Nixon.

It is an open and shut bright red line. Gaetz and Jordan and their Speaker hostage McCarthy are not the first yahoos who tried to save their own skins by pretending they have the right to review anything going on in the Department of Justice and given where the Republican Insurrectionist Party is going they will not be the last. However, DOJ will refuse. Completely. The House will then vote to find Merrick Garland or somebody else at DOJ in contempt and demand they be prosecuted for that contempt and that's when Jordan and Gaetz will realize that the only branch of law enforcement which can actually do that is the Department of Justice. Gaetz and Jordan will then be surprised as hell when the Department of Justice declines to prosecute the Department of Justice.

Presumably, the insurrectionists will be able to fundraise off this brouhaha, ha, ha, ha, and get the Republican umbrage machine to fire up and get Tucker "Jiminy Glick" Carlson to make some more vague threats of violence against somebody but the bottom line is they will not get to review the Special Counsel's case against Trump. Nor stop it. Nor review or stop the DOJ's case against Gaetz for sex trafficking, or anything else.  So, when hands are rung later today about the House subcommittee on the deep state won't let Matt Gaetz Venmo payments for underage girls or the House Subcommittee to get Trump off the hook and blame it all on Pelosi just remember the Linder letter, and look forward to watching Gaetz and Jordan squirm.

The Linder letter's evil twin is called the Holman rule and I'm a little bit more worried about the Holman rule. What I want to hear at the appropriate moment is that the the Justice Department has not merely completed funding the Office of Special Counsel Jack Smith for the next two years but has already paid his salary, all other salaries, all foreseeable expenses and all unforeseeable expenses for everybody involved in the special counsel's office for the next two years. Because, of course, Kevin McCarthy, gave away the store to become Speaker of the House until, like Thursday of next week or whenever they over throw him, and part of the store he gave away is the attempt to reinstitute the Holman rule. The Holman rule is another vestige of the 19th century, like the Supreme Court clerical error declaring that corporations are people with which the Fascists can now try to strangle the 21st century.

The Holman rule is something somebody told Marjorie Taylor Greene about. And that idiot actually remembered it. Two words in consecutive order, nice job Marge!  Marge treats this as if it were an incantation from a Harry Potter book rather than what it actually was. The Holman rule was congress trying to get a handle on out of control political patronage appointments to the civil service during the presidency of Ulysses S Grant.  Essentially the House could vote to eliminate the salary of any federal employee one at a time if need be. Over the decades congress has not done much that justifies the cost of the oil with which to fry it in hell but give credit where credit is due here, we have not seen many corrupt political patronage appointments by President Grant or his lackeys recently. This one worked. Even the House recognized that this was kind of an old deal in 1895.  They killed the Holman rule in 1895. It came back from the dead in 1911. It was the basis for a House bill unsuccessfully directed at 39 victims of the Red Scare in the 40's. It died again in 1983. And then it was resuscitated by the Republicans when they took the House in 2017. Congressman Ron DeSantis tried to use the Holman rule to punish his political enemies, and failed. Paul Gosar tried it, and failed.  And most Republicans recoiled at what amounts to employment terrorism within the government, and a line item veto within the government, and most importantly revoking budget items after the budget had been approved. Even Republicans don't like the Holman rule. The Democrats killed it again when they took power in 2019.  But what Marjorie trailer park Greene has been promising since the middle of last year was to get the Holman rule reinstated and use it to fire or to least cut the salary of anybody investigating or prosecuting Trump.

It is corruption to cover up sedition. It is probably not constitutional based on a ruling in that red scare case in the 40's because as the court then noted it is a bill of attainder and section 9, article 1 of the constitution prohibits bills of attainder. To translate, and God I remember this from 7th grade Social Studies, thank you Mrs. Rice, a bill of attainder is a legislature, NOT A COURT, declaring somebody guilty of something and punishing them without a trial.  Legal in the England of the 1700's, NOT legal in the United States of any year, decade, or day.  

So, if Greene gets the Fascists to pass a Holman rule action to cut Jack Smith's salary, or Merrick Garland's salary, or the salaries of everybody at the FBI it probably would not hold up in court. On the other hand it could create yet more red tape and time delay to hold up the prosecution of Trump. 

So, the prophylactic solution to this anti-democracy, anti-constitutional, anti-law effort by Representative Cavewoman would be make sure everybody in special counsel Smith's office is already paid through 2024. Don't spend it all in one place. And then tell Marge to shove the Holman rule up her district.

So, the main attempt to protect Trump, and Gaetz, and Jordan, and Greene, and whoever placed the Jan 5th pipe bombs, and that I mention the pipe bomber right after I mention Greene is just a coincidence.  The main attempt will fail. The secondary attempt may fail of its own weight, and if it doesn't it can be headed off at the pass. This leaves the Democrats and the administration more time to deal with what they should have precluded while they still had the majority the Republican terrorist plan to refuse to raise the debt ceiling, cause this country to default on its debts, and then, you know, crash the world economy.    

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